Music for Restaurants: the Musical Variable in Buying Behavior

Music for restaurants: the atmosphere

We have reached the second chapter in the series exploring the subject of music for restaurants.

Have you ever heard of Marketing Mix? The four famous variables of Price, Place, Product, and Promotion that permit the company, the brand, the space to reach its objectives. But are these four unique variables still necessary to distinguish yourself from the masses?

The musical variable in the process of distinction

From the jungle of brands, those with soul distinguish themselves. We must tell a story to provoke emotions. At the end of the day, this is what we want. To buy something in a store, eat pasta in a restaurant- these are actions immersed in an atmosphere that influences us without our realizing. Colors, smells, and, in our case, music are the new variables to add to the blazoned Marketing Mix. Moving away from the classic formulas that have influenced the market for years is a distinctive sign of what businesses, restaurant or bar, wants to distinguish themselves from their competitors.

The musical variable in Sonic Branding

To summarize, the old Marketing Mix is now passé. If I had said vintage, it would have implied that it was trendy. We can speak about 4Es and about how much, in my modest opinion, Jakob Lusenski revolutionized the world of Sonic Branding (and my own world).

But let’s take a step backward to 1974. I wasn’t around, but Mehrabian, Russel and environmental psychology were. Milliman and his study regarding the effects of music on the atmosphere was based on the PAD Model that we will analyse later.

Take a look at Milliman’s article which I spoke about here:

Pleasure, Arousal, and Dominance are values that create a favorable atmosphere for consumers. Pleasure like how the consumer enjoys being confronted with a product or service. Arousal as a positive response to a stimulus, in our case a glass of wine accompanied by good music. Dominance as the positive influence on the consumer. Why, then, does Milliman analyse the musical variable in relationship to this antique model, at first glance disconnected from the soundscape?

How to apply the PAD Model to music for restaurants

The values of Pleasure, Arousal, and Dominance can be analysed in relation to:

  • growth in the amount of time spent inside a restaurant or store
  • decrease in the amount of time spent in-store
  • more purchases of food and clothing
  • more alcohol consumed

Milliman’s study gave us the necessary data to confirm that:

With slow background music, clients remained longer, consumed about the same amount of food, but had more alcoholic beverages than average…and that the slowness or fluidity of the background music created a more relaxing environment and a better approach.

The atmosphere is made of elements like light, dimensions, shape volume, tone, aroma, openness, softness, fluidity, and temperature.

Musicians and sound designers know that there’s much more behind volume and tone, the fundamental elements of music.

Musical variables and their effect on buying behavior

=There are numerous studies and inquiries that bring us to the same conclusion: music plays an important role in the atmosphere and on purchasing behaviors. Music must be as controlled as it is variable, monitored and utilized according to certain criteria.

Concluding the proven studies, going back 40 or 50 years, they had already joined environmental psychology, marketing, musicology, and semiotics to suggest to us, to inquire about the great power that music has on the marketing process and permitting brands to take advantage of sound designers capable of developing an identity that is auditory as well as visual.

Stefania Palumbo