Cue: Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas In Our Hearts.”
The start of the Ber months calls for the start of the holiday countdown. While it’s high time for stores to be generous with discounts and put bucketloads of items on sale, Christmas music also relentlessly fills the consumers’ ears as early as the first of September.
You might think malls and stores are just quick to update their playlists in time for the season.
But in reality, stores are swaying you into pulling out your cash or credit card out of your wallet…and getting you to do more than just window shopping.
The psychology of music
Shopping is an experience. Thus, sight, feel, taste and other sensory facets of a consumer contribute to one’s decision whether or not to buy a certain product.
The auditory sense, in particular, highly affects a consumer’s purchasing power.
Rudiments of music such as type, tempo and genre have certain effects to one’s mind, like auditory hypnosis. Say, for instance, loud music makes people move through the store at a fast pace, whereas slow ballads make customers stay longer.
According to Maureen Morrin Ph. D. of the American Psychological Association, consumers who have unplanned purchases spend more when shopping with background music. On the other hand, contemplative shoppers consume slightly less than the usual when background music is playing.
Persuasion to purchase
How does your brain respond to Christmas carols all around? According to motivational psychologist Ron Friedman Ph.D., there’s something problematic with such marketing tactic.
Retailers presume that Christmas music puts consumers in a good mood due to sales peak on holidays. “But this is a statistical fallacy, one that conflates correlation with causation”, he said. In reality, it’s the season that boosts the sales, not the Christmas music per se.
Some consumers also think that stores are manipulating them to spending more money through Christmas music. Doing so actually pushes away consumers
This phenomenon is called reactance–when we feel pressured by external factors to act or think on a certain way, we tend to reassert our autonomy by acting the opposite.
As per the Journal of Business Research published in 2005, 20% of participants in the study where less likely to shop at the store where Christmas music was playing in the background.
‘Mere exposure effect’
According to Victoria Williamson Ph.D. who conducts study on psychology of music at University of London, there’s a U-shaped relation between the number of times we hear music and subsequent reaction to it. The “mere exposure effect” explains how a music you like is played on the loop gets annoying.
Therefore, people who are already stressed out on holiday preparation may cause further distress upon hearing a certain song.
On the other hand, consumers who are relaxed may get a boost as it triggers cheerful memories.
Research conducted by Lisa Cavanaugh, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Southern Carolina’s Marshall School of Business, has found that consumers are likely to spend when religious Christmas songs are played, whether or not the customer is religious.
The study also revealed that non-religious Christmas music makes consumers to purchase items for themselves.
How about you, how does holiday music affect you?