Melodic choices: influencing customer behavior via music

It ought to be old hat and self evident given the known salutary effects of music but apparently no one has derived a direct correlation between music and consumer choice. The Wall Street Journal brings that out in a story earlier this week  about how "music played on websites can evoke memories and feelings that affect purchases and choices visitors make on the site". 

The article cites a recent study in the latest issue of the Psychology of Music.  Entitled "Congruency between instrumental background music and behavior on a website" the abstract points out that earlier research on the topic involved studying the effect of background music on consumer behavior used music associated with lyrics but failed to use a no music control condition.

A compelling aspect of the findings of the French researchers came from observing participants while "instrumental music (jazz and djembe) was played or not while they browsed the website of a well-known seaside resort and participants were instructed to select a type of accommodation. It was found that djembe music which originated in Mali in West Africa  was associated more with a choice of outdoor accommodations  and youth hostels.  Jazz music, on the other hand, was associated with greater interest for hotel accommodations with an astounding 1600% greater likelihood of the consumer choosing a hotel.Jazz apparently caused participants to think of comfort while the Djembe drum stoked ideas of open country and adventure per the researchers.

 The Journal does point to a potential limitation of the study: participants were all relatively young and only two forms of non-vocal music were employed in the study.  Regardless, it could behoove hotel websites to pivot towards that demographic with an option to shut out the music in case it proves to be a distraction for older and/or non-musically inclined customers. And while targetting the young perhaps also incorporate another growing trend that is proving less and less to be a fad: the use of bitcoins to pay for the musically enhanced hotel room. One purveyor, the inelegantly named CheapAir, has already done so.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.