Marks and Spencer has announced it’s get rid of all in-store music. But why did stores start playing music in the first place and what does it actually do to our intellects?
If you want to sell hosepipes and spanners, you could play Dolly Parton or Kenny Rogers. To make red wine at an in-store tasting that little bitter darker and deeper, try the thundering voices of Carmina Burana. To shift more silk ties, it could be worth slipping on Nirvana or Pearl Jam, apparently.
Background music in stores – disparagingly referred to as “muzak” – has been shown to have an effect on our buying habits, but Marks and Spencer has decided to trench it altogether. The company is removing it from all its UK stores, following “extensive research and feedback” from staff and customers.
Shops and restaurants can use music “to target those effects that are most likely to increase marketings in a devoted business”, tells Adrian North, prof of music psychology at Australia’s Curtin University in Perth.