Music for Malls: Creating a Holistic Customer Experience
In a post-pandemic world, shopping malls continue to be an emotional leisurely activity. People don’t just shop for functional reasons, like buying essentials, or consumer staples. According to a survey by McKinsey, consumer spending is revving up, with 51% of them reporting a desire to splurge and indulge themselves in a fit of post-pandemic revenge spending. And a driving factor for their expenditure is the ambience, including the music for malls.
Higher-income millennials are looking to outspend all other groups on discretionary as well as curated experiences. Even the innately homebodies don’t seem to mind an occasional day out as the horror of the last two years slowly wanes. Thus, in such a fast-paced world, rife with opportunity, it is imperative to understand what drives our key demographic and how to curate an overall ambience that reflects their key values.
Gen Z’s and millennials are experience-driven as compared to their older counterparts who are functionality driven. They prioritise spending on experience-related products which are now seen as essential to maintain and elevate their standard of living.
This consumer behaviour has led to the rise of ‘retailtainment’ or experiential retail. It aims to create a bond between shoppers and brands through a facilitating medium by bringing products to life, through light, sound, movement and interacting directly with the shopper.
What determines the music for malls
At the heart of sales, there is customer experience. There are three critical variables that come into play in order to create the right music for malls and retail stores.
Age group of your clientele
The general demographic of customers visiting your mall should influence your decision-making when it comes to picking the right music for them.
For instance, for the Gen Z audience, you might want to find out the trending tunes on Tiktok or Reels to get them grooving on their visit. For the slightly older millennials, 90s nostalgia music tapping into their love for boy bands, R&B and hip hop might be a good idea but don’t shy away from the latest chart toppers either. Most Gen-Xers are biassed toward timeless country music, and the 70’s and 80’s classics. They like a laid-back and warm vibe. And the older generation a.k.a the Baby Boomers are synonymous with R&B/Soul and Jazz.
Nature of your establishment
Is your establishment a fast food restaurant or a fine dining one? Is it a premium designer store or one of a chain departmental shops?
The right soundtrack also goes a long way to establishing a unique brand positioning. If your brand projects itself as a high-end one, then your optimal music is quieter and low-tempo. However, if your business depends on a high customer turnover, faster-paced, popular tunes are more likely to carry you through.
Time of the day
Usually, combined with the other two, there are particular times of day which are ‘rush hours’ when people flood into your business. There’s a certain type of music or soundtrack which works during these hours. To pick up business during slow hours, you might need a different type of playlist.
Music, people, memory, and choices
A 1990 research by Gordon Bruner in the Journal of Marketing stresses the intersection between music, feelings, and subsequently, choices. Humans, he says, have an emotional reaction to music. By playing well-curated soundtracks, you’re appealing to a side which is less logical, and more emotional. A side which is prone to buy things impulsively because of the ‘feel-good’ factor attached.
In addition to that, different elements of music, such as time, pitch, and texture can elicit different neurological responses. And the power of that difference can be harnessed to target a specific demographic.
Certain music also leads to the retrieval of associated memories and episodes of personal significance, giving rise to feelings of familiarity. Familiarity makes consumers less guarded, putting them at ease with their purchases. And happy customers make for happy spenders.
Studies have shown that when subjects are listening to their favourite songs, the brain releases dopamine – the happy hormone.
Different pace, different impact
Fast-paced music causes an increase in our breathing and heart rates to get us pumped. For example, stores which depend on a large customer turnover where shoppers are required to make fast purchase decisions can gain from playing groovy, fast, danceable music.
On the other hand, slower, calmer music reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. This is optimal for high-end stores where shoppers require a longer timeframe to pick something, as they are investing more money in it, and also to curate an overall premium customer experience.
Additionally, famous music makes the shoppers feel a sense of community with other shoppers, making them more comfortable in the environment, which causes them to splurge freely. Don’t we all feel a little more excited when we can groove in sync to a Dua Lipa bop while picking out a new dress?
All of this gives shoppers an immersive, unparalleled experience, who, in turn, spend their money at your shop, and keep coming back for more!
How the right music for malls influences the shopper’s behaviour
It is irrefutable that music adds to the ambience of a mall, and also significantly increases the time your customer spends with you.
To make your products engage directly with your clientele and to communicate your brand positioning, it is crucial to create the ‘right’ atmosphere. Through curated soundtracks for music in malls, you even have the liberty to rebrand and revamp the image of your business.
Studies show that the more pleasant the music, the higher the customers spend at your store. A great soundtrack has also shown to significantly increase impulse buys made by them.
Moreover, it positively impacts your employee’s moods, making them provide better hospitality, which in turn, boosts sales. A testimony to this lies in a 2013 research by DJS which showed that the staff at a business is 77% more productive while listening to music.
Give every space in your mall its own soundtrack
The mall is both a unified experience and an amalgamation of all the different retail experiences. Music lends a different personality to each type of store as well as the common areas in the building.
In the lobbies of your mall, R & B, jazz, classical, or ambient music works the best at relaxing shoppers and putting them at ease as they stroll through the shops at their leisure. Who would ever pass up on a chance to lounge with a newspaper as Beethoven played in the background?
Fast Fashion Stores
Whereas, if your store sells fast fashion accessories and apparel, it would make sense to play dance-worthy EDM and hip-hop. A classic case study is how Abercrombie’s teen brand Hollister changed their loud, beachy music to play the latest and well-curated pop, hip-hop and EDM numbers to battle a lower volume of customers across their stores. Now, they attract their original target audience of teenagers plus their parents!
Bookstores are frequented by readers and non-readers of all age groups. So it would be prudent to play soft background music involving non-lyrical, instrumental songs, musical masterpieces such as Kenny G, or country music, to make the overall experience more immersive. It would also serve as a cosy spot for readers to spend a few minutes with a book before they make a purchase.
Supermarkets and Drugstores
Supermarkets and drugstores, on the other hand, would do well if you played classics from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s or non-lyrical hits. Listening to Marvin Gaye or Supertramp makes one feel happy and unfettered, and who’s to say that your fresh produce won’t fly off the shelves?
Fast Food Joints
Fast food restaurants are the flag bearers of experiential retail, and hence, the music you play there should fit in and work in tandem to create an ambience of indulgence, and you can never go wrong with the feel-good oldies or pop and EDM chart toppers of the week.
Fine Dining Restaurants
On the other hand, if you have an upscale dining space in the mall, choose a softer jazz playlist. Let the soothing tones of the saxophone lend a pleasant atmosphere to your patrons as they savour their meals.
Luxury Goods Stores
Premium designer stores have a niche target audience. The classy music and soft tones work here to elevate your brand positioning and add an air of sophistication.
Arcades and gaming centres work well with playing fast and high tempo music. Racing heartbeats, a high-pressure environment, with stakes, set the right mood for an excitement filled gaming outing.
Since the food court is an amalgamation of top food brands and local delicacies, funk or indie rock are ideal. You want people to be relaxed, but still very interested and engaged in exploring the offering of cuisines around them. Swaying to the tunes while eating correlates the memory of the food court with one of thrill and enjoyment.
Music for malls and enhancing the customers’ retail journey
Simply put, different music makes people feel different things. Picking the right music for the right sections of the mall can help keep people around for longer increasing their expenditure. It can also determine their pace of movement, their decision-making and their perception of the space. Therefore, picking the perfect playlist for your mall can be a driving factor for your sales and growth.
Soundsuit helps you plan music in advance using its smart scheduling function. You can not only play different moods and styles of music for malls at different times of the day and on different days or moments of the week, but you can also target your music to specific customer segments, e.g. “Women, from 30 to 50 years old, trendy” or “Mixed, 18 to 30 years old, trendy + alternative”.
Your music playground is now infinite while very precise and predictable. You can spend your time and energy managing your business and customers while getting peace of mind that the right jazz music will play for the right patrons at the right time of the day.
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