Free Subscription

  • Access 15 free news articles each month


Try one month for $5
  • Unlimited access to news,insights and opinions
  • Quarterly and weekly magazines
  • Independent research reports and forecasts
  • Quarterly webinars with industry experts
  • Q&A with retail leaders
  • Career advice
  • Exclusive Masterclass access. Part of Retail Week 2021

The soundtrack of retail


ipod digital musicGone are the days when supermarkets could get away with playing a commercial radio station to their patrons.

The wrong music won’t only distract shoppers but it may make them spend less time (and therefore less dollars) instore.

Kirsty Dollisson, MD of TorchMedia, says music is becoming a more complex consideration in the Australian grocery aisle.

“We’ve been playing a lot with instore radio to make sure that it reflects the time of day,” says Dollisson, whose clients include Woolworths.

She says major retailers are realising music needs to be different depending on the time of day and shopping situation.

“Music can be used to try and calm the shopper in the grocery space, but in fashion execution it’s more about making them stay longer.

“It all comes back to the shopping occasion.”

Tuning into your customers

Dollisson suggests that early bird retailers play contemporary hits from the 80s, 90s, and today for positive singalongs.

“Morning music is about setting a positive mood and getting people excited about the day and feeling upbeat.”

As the day progresses, grocery retailers should switch to a mixture of less recognisable tracks, such as light house music or abstract jazz.

Dollisson says music along those themes will help reduce shopper anxiety: a common experience for last minute evening meal shoppers.

Reducing shopper anxiety will in turn lead to calmer shoppers that are more inclined to dwell and consider new products.

When it comes to fashion retail, many stores still tend to pump out contemporary tunes as loudly as possible.

This is a ambience tactic usually attributed to US youth retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch, which plays dance music so loudly it demands attention from foot traffic.

“What I like about this is that they’ve gone for it,” says Matt Newell, strategy partner of retail design agency, The General Store.

“They have that big soundtrack that kind of pushes everybody outside of 30 years old out of their store.”

Newell says this tactic works for larger fast fashion operators, but other fashion chains should consider their market first.

“Using audio in retail spaces can be really hit and miss. If you do it too much then it can really drive people away.

“When we designed [Shoes of Prey’s store music] it was all about lowering the customer’s heartbeat and increasing dwell time.”

Other retailers to have created bespoke soundtracks include Dick Smith’s Move and Melbourne fashion chain, Fat.

shoes of prey 5
Shoes of Prey’s flagship in Sydney.

You have 7 free articles.

Masterclasses are for professionals only

Only $5 p/m for first 3 months
Become a Professional Already a professional? Login
  • Daily exclusive Members Only content straight to your inbox
  • Access to exclusive Retail Week events including all 4 Masterclasses 28 February - 3 March
  • Retail insights and intelligence
  • On-demand videos with industry professionals
  • Weekly careers advice specific to retailers
  • Independent research reports and forecasts
  • Q&A with industry experts
  • Content, content, content! Weekly and quarterly magazines