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Right music can spur shoppers to spend more

Creating the comfortable and accommodating atmosphere for customers can contribute immensely to the survival of your business in the current turbulent economic conditions, argues Craig Cesman, Chief Executive of audio branding experts DMX Music.

Cesman's argument comes as South African consumers are reeling from the current tough economic conditions characterised by high inflation and interest rates and concomitant dwindling disposable income.

Consumers are worse off now than in 1998, when the prime interest rate, charged by banks to their best customers, surged to a record 25,5%, because they are now paying more for food, fuel and electricity. Also, a decline in the rand has exacerbated the situation by pushing up import costs.

Despite these gloomy conditions, contends Cesman, people will not stop going out or buying clothes and food. "But people will start to be selective about where they spend their money than was the case when the domestic economy was booming in the last couple of years," says Cesman.

According to Cesman, more and more consumers will start gravitating towards stores or restaurants that offer better value and experience. "Its about the experience."

Cesman contends that the right music can go a long way in enhancing the customer experience and making the customer feel more comfortable. This much is borne by a UK retail study titled Store Atmospherics.

A key finding of the study is that the choice of music in a retail setting has serious consequences in the mind of the consumer in both positive and negative ways. Almost 20% of the respondents in the study said music has encouraged them to spend more time in a store; this result increases to 27% for shoppers between 21-39 years old.

Another key finding of the study is that the wrong music can have adverse results. More than 40% said music has encouraged them to leave the store altogether. Older shoppers aged 40 and above, are much more likely to walk out as a result of music.

Moreover, when asked for their reaction to the statement, "In-store music increases sales," nearly 70% of retailers agreed, and 12.2% said they "agree strongly". The majority also agreed that in-store music makes customers shop longer in the stores and helps the retailer differentiate its stores from the competition.

According to Cesman, businesses should not only look at music when designing a comfortable atmosphere for consumers.

"It is the integration of all the atmospheric elements working together to benefit the shopping experience. It's a 360-degree approach ... but it incorporates staff attitude, the feel of the stores, the connection that customers have with the brand. Music can play a role in all of these," he says.

Cesman says music is a powerful tool that can alter the mood, emotions and behaviour of people, and now smart South African retailers and businesses can take this into account when putting that philosophy into practice with their in-store music.

If you create the right atmosphere you will not only survive these turbulent times but also get a bigger share of the customer's wallet.