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The Effects of Music on Shopper’s Perception of Safety

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Just like sight, sound is a critical way that we process our environments and our safety within them. It’s common knowledge that a business must maintain its physical space to project an image of safety and security for its patrons, but it’s also vital to consider sound in the same way. Think about it—you wouldn’t go alone into a shop with a run-down façade that makes you feel unsafe. You would also be less inclined to go into a store that was eerily silent. The emptiness of a department store for instance, is magnified by the sound of silence and makes a customer feel like they’re being watched.  Showing up to a silent convenience store late at night can be intimidating and make a potential customer feel uneasy.

According to a recent article by Fast Company, music does have a direct impact on our emotions. In addition to making us more likely to feel happy or sad, it can also influence feelings of comfort, due to the impact that the audio environment has on our brains. Upbeat music can make us feel more confident, for instance.

A study by the University of Michigan goes even further, suggesting that music with lyrics make people feel most safe. The study surveyed participants about their likeliness to use train terminals under four different conditions. One store had no music, one had bird sounds, one had instrumental music, and the final had music with human vocals. The study found that participants reacted most favorably to music with human vocals, when compared to instrumental music and ambient bird sounds, although all of them were better than no music. Psychologically, hearing human voices gave the participants a feeling of social presence, which led to a greater sense of security. This study translates directly into the realm of business, as participants were reportedly to be more likely to do business with places with human voices over otherwise identical places playing ambient music or bird sounds.

Your problems as a business owner arise when customers’ feelings of fear can stop them from visiting your business entirely. Music can be a simple way to make a tangible difference in your business environment.

Nick Pizana



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