Saturday, May 14, 2016

Music in Stores and Restaurants

One thing in particular that I hate about shopping, when accompanying my wife, for example, is the music in each store. Even grocery stores play music, usually contemporary popular music, most of which I don’t recognize. Probably people in marketing have discovered that shoppers respond, often unconsciously, to upbeat music. It has probably been proven that consumers spend less time making a decision when music is played in the background.

Actually, according to the research found on the Internet, fast tempo music leads to more impulse shopping while slow tempo music causes shoppers to linger and to spend more money as a result. The volume of the music plays a part, too. Older customers, according to the research, prefer to have the music in the background and are more apt to leave stores where the music is in the foreground. Younger customers, on the other hand, prefer to have the music in the foreground and will often remain in a store to hear the music. James J. Farrell in One Nation Under Goods: Malls and the Seductions of American Shopping, a booklength examination of how Americans are manipulated by the marketplace, admits that music “increas[es] our productivity as consumers by increasing our proclivity to purchase products.” Our response to music is one way out of many that consumers are manipulated to act in illogical ways, Farrell says.

I am particularly bothered by loud music in restaurants. Many of my experiences in restaurants, as of late, have proven to be unpleasant because of the loud music. I don’t know what restaurants hope to achieve by having the volume turned up.  According to the research, customers drink more and eat faster when the music is loud. A restaurant with loud music is also perceived as being more fun. A restaurant critic in Washington, D.C., I have discovered, rates restaurants on not only the quality of the food but also the amount of noise. Someone younger will find loud music more stimulating and more inviting. I think of loud music as annoying. It is often difficult to talk to the person next to me because of the noise. I much prefer to take my food somewhere outside or to sit in the car while overlooking a pleasant scene.

Noise pollution is such a fact of our lives. I have spent much of my adult life searching for a quiet environment. Sometimes, ironically, I want nothing more than to fully experience the nuances of my music. At other times, I want to hear nothing more than bird songs or the rhythm of cicadas, their songs rising and falling in the evening. Within this crowded world of ours, we should be able to know quiet at times and should have some options on what we allow to enter our ears.