Main Content

Back to Blog List

The UPS Store Small Business Blog
  • 27 November 2023
  • Public Relations

The Science Behind In-Store Music and How to Create the Best Ambiance for Your Small Business

One aspect that small business owners often overlook is the importance of in-store music and its role in creating a positive ambiance. While many may perceive it as background noise, the choice of in-store music can actually have a significant impact on customer decisions and overall shopping experience.


In a retail setting, the carefully curated playlist of songs can contribute to creating a cohesive brand image. The right combination of music genres and specific tracks can help establish an emotional connection with consumers, making them feel comfortable and more inclined to spend time in the store.

In this article, we will delve into the science behind in-store music and provide valuable tips on how to create the perfect ambiance for your small business.

Understanding the Power of In-Store Music

Music is often referred to as a universal language, capable of evoking deep emotions and connecting people on a profound level. When carefully selected and strategically integrated into a retail environment, in-store music can help create an ambiance that aligns with the brand identity, values and target audience.

By curating a playlist that is relevant to both the brand and its consumers' preferences, retailers can create an immersive shopping experience that captivates shoppers, keeping them engaged and influencing their purchasing behavior.

On the other hand, if the choice of music or the volume is inappropriate, it can have a negative effect on customers, leading them to leave the store prematurely.

That is why it's important for small business owners to recognize that there is actually a science behind in-store music. It goes beyond just playing any random tunes in the background. By understanding how different sounds and melodies can affect consumers' mood and behavior, retailers can strategically use in-store music to their advantage.

The Psychology of Sound in Retail

In the world of retail, the power of music cannot be overstated. It goes far beyond creating a pleasing ambiance; in fact, it has the ability to tap into our subconscious and greatly influence our buying behavior. Understanding the psychology of sound in retail is crucial for store owners and marketers alike.

The tempo, genre and volume of the music all play a significant role in shaping customers' perception of time, their mood and, ultimately, their purchasing decisions. Whether it's a slow melody that encourages customers to slow down and browse or an upbeat tune that creates a sense of urgency, these musical choices can greatly impact the overall shopping experience.

Moreover, music has the ability to tap into the pleasure principle. This means your customers are more likely to buy items that they associate with pleasure, such as workout gear, party items or fun clothing, when listening to the right music.

But choosing the right music is entirely up to you. Here are some notes to consider.

Tempo and Volume

When the volume of the music is too loud, it can hinder shoppers from effectively communicating with each other and seeking assistance from store staff. This can create frustration and potentially lead to missed sales opportunities for businesses.

Additionally, the tempo of the music played in-store can also affect shoppers' experiences. Fast-paced or hectic music may cause customers to feel rushed or overwhelmed, while slower and more calming tunes may encourage relaxation and extend browsing time.

Creating carefully curated playlists that strike a balance between creating a pleasant ambiance and allowing for clear communication is crucial. By finding this middle ground, retailers can ensure that their customers enjoy a comfortable and conducive shopping environment where they feel secure in engaging with staff and asking questions about the store's offerings.

Genre and Lyrics

While there is no one specific genre that can be recommended as universally effective for all retail stores, understanding the genre preferences and tastes of target customers is key.

By choosing an appropriate genre or a mix of genres that resonates with their specific customer base, retailers can create a unique atmosphere that sets the stage for positive purchasing experiences. Whether it's a lively pop playlist to energize shoppers or soothing classical music to provide a sense of calmness, retailers have the opportunity to secure more control over their store's space through well-curated background music.

It's important for retailers to track customer reactions and gather feedback on the impact of different genres on mood and buying decisions. By analyzing data and adjusting playlists accordingly, retail businesses can continuously refine their in-store music strategy to create an optimal shopping environment.

The Correlation Between Music and Sales

The University of Bath's School of Management conducted a study that revealed an intriguing finding – in-store music can have a significant impact on sales. According to their research, the presence of carefully curated background music can lead to a substantial increase in sales, specifically during weekdays.

The study's findings suggest that in-store music creates an ambiance that captures shoppers' attention and enhances their overall experience. The melodies playing in the background can evoke particular emotions or trigger nostalgia, creating a positive association with the store itself and its products. This psychological connection increases the likelihood of customers making purchases.

Furthermore, the research indicates that certain songs or musical genres might be more effective at driving sales than others. This highlights the importance of carefully selecting music that aligns with the target demographic and brand identity of the retailer.

How to Choose the Right In-Store Music for Your Small Business

Choosing the right in-store music for your small business is an important decision, as it can greatly impact customer experiences, drive sales and create a memorable atmosphere in your shop. By carefully selecting the perfect tunes to complement your brand and create the right ambiance, you can keep customers engaged, enhance their shopping journey and encourage them to return for more.

Here are three essential tips that will help you make the best choice when it comes to in-store music.

Understand Your Target Audience

When it comes to in-store music, it's important for retail stores to understand that different people have different preferences. This is especially true when considering the generational divide in music tastes.

For instance, Generation Z may not have the same appreciation for classic rock as Generation X vice versa. Each generation has its own unique cultural experiences and musical influences that shape their preferences.

By considering factors such as their age, hobbies and influences, you can curate a music selection that resonates with them on a deeper level.

Think about the songs that will transport them to a nostalgic moment or evoke positive emotions. Consider what they might have grown up listening to and what might remind them of cherished memories. By tapping into these familiar sounds, you create an atmosphere that draws consumers in and keeps them engaged.

With millions of songs at your disposal through various streaming platforms, take advantage of the vast array of options to cater to different tastes and preferences. But more importantly, create playlists that align with your customers’ interests, not music that you personally prefer.

Consider the Nature of Your Own Business

Creating a positive and immersive experience for your consumers goes beyond just the products or services you offer. The overall ambiance and tone play a crucial role in shaping their perception of your business. In this context, the music choices you make can greatly enhance the atmosphere and further connect with your audience.

When selecting the songs to be heard in your store, it's important to take into account the atmosphere you want to create. For example, if your business is selling candles in a bright, airy, aesthetic storefront, rap or heavy metal probably isn’t the type of music to play.

Balance Volume and Tempo

One aspect that often goes overlooked is the volume and tempo of the in-store music. While music can enhance the ambiance, it should be carefully curated to ensure it doesn't become overwhelming or disruptive.

The volume level should be set at an appropriate level that allows people to comfortably hold conversations and ask questions without feeling drowned out or overwhelmed. It's important to strike a balance where the music adds to the atmosphere but doesn't become a hindrance to communication.

Creating a Musical Experience for Digital Storefronts

In the digital age, owning a physical store is not the only way to connect with your audience and create a memorable experience. By leveraging music, you can enhance your digital relationship and engage your audience in a unique way.

One effective strategy is to create tailored playlists on popular streaming services. By curating songs that align with your brand's persona and values, you can create a musical experience that resonates with your target audience. Another idea you might consider is to encourage your audience to tag you in playlists they create that align with your brand for social media or other promotional efforts.

Additionally, if you operate an online-only store and aren’t catering music to your customers, using the right music can help you stay focused and on-track. In fact, a study found that listening to certain genres of music can boost your productivity and relieve your stress and anxiety.

When customers visit your store, they are not just there for the music. They are looking for a complete and seamless experience that goes beyond what they hear. From printing out helpful signage to setting up a phone service to make communications with your storefront simple for everyone, The UPS Store can help you craft the best all-around experience possible. Learn how by using our resources at The UPS Store Small Business Resource Center.

Back to Blog List