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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Music and Consumer Experience

JOHN T. LANG

Occidental College, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs177

Consumers are besieged by music. Corporations use music to shape consumer experience and purchasing behaviors, to build emotional connections with consumers, and to enhance the corporate brand image.

Auditory cues can and do modulate many different aspects of consumer perception and behavior in retail environments. For example, people move more slowly in retail environments featuring slow tempo or quiet music. This means that retailers often use slower, softer music when they want customers to linger. However, in fast-paced restaurants or bars, where there is quick table turnover, increasing the loudness, or beats per minute, of background music can result in a significant increase in rate of consumption of food and drink as well as in the overall amount that people consume.

Moreover, ambient music and purposefully programmed sound is such a taken-for-granted element of a built space that consumers notice only when they enter a music-free environment. Although it is a typically overlooked aesthetic structure, sound is an important design element of a built space devoted to consumerism. Music directs consumers to places of consumption. It also keeps out the unwanted noises of the commercial infrastructure such as heating and cooling systems, hard vertical and horizontal surfaces that produce echoes, random utterances and conversations, as well as the general social scene and traffic ...

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