Periodicity.: July - September 2013
e-ISSN......: 2236-269X



Eduardo Biagi Almeida Santos

Universidade Nove de Julho, Brazil



Otávio Bandeira De Lamônica Freire

Universidade Nove de Julho, Brazil

Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil



Submission: 30/07/2013

Revision: 13/08/2013

Accept: 14/08/2013



This present paper shows the influence of music used in a retail environment in relation to consumer behavior. For obtaining the information, we based this research on a literature review in national and international journals, by 4 databases including: Proquest, EBSCO Host, CAPES periódicos and Mendeley, in the period of 2008 and 2012, by the keywords: music behavior, music in retail environment, background music, music consumer, environmental music, music and consumer behavior and music in purchase decision. The use of music has been applied in traditional areas such as psychology, trough the discipline of environmental psychology (DONOVAN; ROSSITER, 1982); marketers use this tool as a motivator in a purchase decision in different shopping environments. This paper shows that there is an influence of background music in purchase decision but it’s still needs an explanations of some variables. At the end this paper will present some suggestions for future research.


Keywords: music in purchase decision, music in retail, consumer behavior, background music, music and consumer.



            The use of music has been studied in traditional areas such as psychology, on issues such as learning and human behavior. Marketers use this feature as a motivator in the purchase decision of consumers shopping in different environments due to easy way of manipulation of the music and the fact that music isn’t offensive to the consumer.

            Kotler (1973) exposed in his paper that the tangible product or service was only a small portion of the total consumption, the other part filled by the local atmosphere or from which the product was purchased or consumed and, in some cases, the atmosphere is primary product. Atmosphere as a marketing tool is defined by Kotler as a space consciously created to create certain effects on consumers and influence their purchase decision; the atmosphere consists of various elements such as brightness, size, smell, temperature, music, softness, smoothness and shape. The literature review done by Kellaris (2008) shows us that music was heavily used in consumer environments as motivating. In addition, the store, elements such as lighting, color, style or music may have more immediate effects on decision making than marketing inputs that are not sent at the time of purchase (BAKER, GREWAL, PARASURAMAN, 1994).

            In 1982, Donovan and Rossiter adapted the model PAD (Pleasure, Dominance and Activation) to retail as a way to better study the relations environment/behavior from consumer with focus on the approach/remoteness using a scale of 36 items measuring consumer emotions. It is considered approaching behavior the desire to stay in the environment, tendency to explore and interact, the desire to communicate with others, feelings of satisfaction with the experience and purchase intent. The behavior of remoteness is the desire to leave the environment, tend to ignore the details of the environment, a sense of dissatisfaction and low purchase intent (FERREIRA, 2007).


            The purpose of this study is to do a literature review of national and international papers during the period 2008 - 2012 with the objective to understand what has been studied in this area.

            A total of 4 databases were searched including: Proquest, EBSCO Host, CAPES periódicos and Mendeley. The keywords were: music behavior, music in retail environment, background music, music consumer, environmental music, music and consumer behavior and music in purchase decision. References from bibliographies were also examined to identify further studies, also, was made a search through Google Scholar using the same keywords.


            The first study to consolidate the term “atmospherics” was Kotler (1973) in his paper “Atmospherics as a marketing tool”. This term starts from the principle that the people respond beyond the stimuli coming from the product itself, all the others objects that is present in the environment influences their decision. Atmospherics is the effort to design buying environments to produce specific emotional effects in the buyer that enhance his purchase probability (KOTLER, 1973), the atmosphere at the store not influence just emotional but the consumer’s acts, and consumer’s reaction to the environmental stimuli, in terms of perceived time and how fast or how slow the consumer will drink (GUÉGUEN, JACOB, 2010; MACIEL, et al, 2010; BROEKEMIER, MARQUARDT, GENTRY, 2008; GUÉGUEN, et al, 2008; VACCARO, et al 2011). Kotler divides atmosphere in four senses, the first one is the visual dimension (color, brightness, size and shape), the second one is aural dimension (volume and pitch), the third one is the olfactory dimension (scent and freshness) and last one is the tactile dimension (softness, smoothness and temperature), the fifth sense, the taste, does not apply to atmosphere, because the atmosphere cannot be tasted.

            Berman and Evans (1995 apud TURLEY, MILLIMAN, 2000) divide atmospheric stimuli in four categories of variable, Turley and Milliman (2000) increases one more (human variables) to improve the research in this area and to evolve a major comprehension of the phenomena.


            The purpose of this section is to introduce theory behind many studies relating music (atmospheric variable) with consumer.

            The relationship between environment and behavior, have been studied by psychologists trough the discipline of environmental psychology (DONOVAN, ROSSITER, 1982).

            However, environmental psychology was heavily used in the matter of approach and avoidance - based on the paradigm SOR (Stimulus - Organism - Response) which suggests that environmental stimuli results in behaviors of approach and avoidance. Donovan, et al (1994) describe a stimulus – organism – response as a paradigm “… relating features of the environment to approach – avoidance behaviors within the environment, mediated by the individual’s emotional states aroused by the environment” (p. 284). Approach are positive responses to the environment in which the person feels the need to stay in that environment and explore it, the behavior of avoidance manifests itself when the person does not want to stay in the store or spend time watching or exploring the store (TURLEY, MILLIMAN, 2000). Approach – Avoidance are considered to have four aspects by Mehrabian and Russell (1974 apud DONOVAN, ROSSITER, 1982) all these aspects describe the consumer behavior in a retail environment.

            One of the models developed to measure approach/avoidance was known as PAD model (Pleasure, Arousal and Dominance). The model consist in three emotional dimensions: Pleasure – dimension that refers to how the consumer feels good, happy and satisfied; Arousal – dimension refers to the degree that the consumer feels stimulated, alert or active towards the situation presented; and finally, Dominance – dimension that refers to how the individual feels dominated or free to act towards the situation, this model was developed by Mehrabian & Russell (1974 apud DONOVAN, ROSSITER, 1982). Those three dimensions was divided by 36 items,  contented – depressed, happy – unhappy, satisfied – unsatisfied, pleased – annoyed, relaxed – bored, important – insignificant, free – restricted, hopeful – despairing, stimulated – relaxed, excited – calm, jittery – dull, aroused – unaroused, frenzied – sluggish, overcrowded – uncrowded, wideawake – sleepy, controlling – controlled, dominant – submissive and influential – influenced.  The PAD model has a conditional interaction between pleasure and arousal, so, in a neutral environment, moderate arousal enhances approach behaviors, whereas very low or very high arousal leads to avoidance behavior. In a pleasant environment, the greater arousal, the greater approach behavior, in an unpleasant environment, the higher the arousal, the greater the avoidance behavior (DONOVAN and ROSSITER, 1982).

            In retail context the emotional dimension pleasure and arousal indicates higher tendencies for consumers to react positively. From this theoretical proposal the vast majority of papers found that relate music and consumer behavior use this theory to explain their results (EROGLU, MACHLEIT, 2008).


            In topics like consumer psychology music is used to provide a memory recall, information process, attitude formation, emotion, etc. (KELLARIS, 2008). Bitner (1992 apud MARCELINO, et al, 2011) says that when the environment is pleasant the consumer tend to be more comfortable, stay more time in the store, be more available to spend more than calculated by him, and come back to the store at a later moment in time. In consumer research music is treated as an independent variable or stimulus because influences a wide variety of cognitive, affective and consumer behavior (KELLARIS, 2008; GUEGUEN, JACOB, 2010; ANDRADE, BARBOSA, 2009).

            Table 1 is a summary table of the studies between 2008 and 2012 relating music and consumer.

Table 1 – Summary table of studies relating music and consumer purchase behavior




Independent variables

Dependent Variables

Broekemier, Marquardt and Gentry (2008)

126 subjects

Laboratory experiment

Music (Happy - Sad)

-       Shopping intention

Andrade and Barbosa (2009)

52 women’s, including customer and employees

Field experiment


-       Time perception

-       Return intention

Guéguen and Jacob (2010)

120 customers (48 males and 72 females)

Field experiment

Musical style

-       Amount of time

-       Amount of                                          money

Maciel, et al (2010)

782 customers ( 393 males and 389 females)

Field experiment

Musical style

-       Time perception

-       Mood

-       Return intention

Marcelino, et al (2011)

782 customers (393 males and 389 females)

Field experiment


Approach – Avoidance (PAD Model)

Mandila and Gerogiannis (2012)

200 subjects

Cross – sectional research

Music style

-       Time spent

-       Money spent

-       Satisfaction

Andersson, et al (2012)

550 subjects

Field experiment

-       No Music/Music Slow tempo

-       Fast tempo


-       Time spent

-       Approach – Avoidance (PAD Model)

-       Money spent

Vaccaro, et al (2009)

248 students

Field Study (Survey)

-       Music

-       Scent

-       Time spent

-       Product involvement

-       Store image

-       Behavioral intent

Lai and Chiang (2012)

30 subjects


-       Background music

-       Pleasure and arousal

-       Approach / Avoidance

Guéguen, et al (2008)

40 beer drinkers

Field Experiment

-       Environmental music (High versus slow tempo and different styles)

-       Numbers of drinks ordered

-       Amount of time spent to drink each glass of beer

-       The number of gulps for each glass

Vaccaro, et al (2011)

248 subjects

Field Study (Survey)

-       Background Music

-       Three emotion dimensions (happy, sad and irritating)

-       Prior shopping experience

-       Return patronage intentions in retail and service settings

Cheng, Wu and Yen (2009)

128 subjects

Laboratory experiment

-       Music (fast and slow)

-       Color (warm and cool)

-       Pleasure and Arousal


            Guéguen & Jacob (2010) conducted a study in a flower shop where consumers were exposed to an environment with romantic songs, pop songs (songs usually played at florists) and no music. The result was that consumers spent more time in the store when romantic music was played, but found no correlation between romantic music, pop music and music-free environment when the chosen factor was the average ticket spending by consumers.

            The study of Broekemier, Marquardt and Gentry (2008) sought to determine which of the two dimensions of music, happy - sad or within the popular music/non popular, had significant effects on the purchase intention. The research showed that when respondents were exposed to the dimension happy - sad, there was a direct effect on purchase intent; purchase intent however was higher when played happy music/popular music.

            Vaccaro, et al (2009) investigate through a field study the relationship of consumer perceptions  of the atmospherics elements scent and music-retail consistency on consumer responses of product involvement, store image, behavioral intentions and time spent in retail and service environment. The participants of this study visit a variety of stores and services providers to assess the atmospherics and recorded their responses in a questionnaire, the results was analyses by a multiple regression and shows that music and scent was statistically significant with time spent.

            Andrade and Barbosa (2009) investigated the effect of music on motivation and behavior of sellers and influence on perception and consumer behavior in a women's clothing store. Questionnaires were given to customers, vendors and cashiers - stockers, creating three situations, the first and the third playing music alternating with the usual music in store, and the second situation playing a disc with songs taken as a family (international soundtracks). The results showed a positive relationship to the items related to purchase intention and intention to return to the store. When played songs taken as familiar, the perception of time remained in the shop was below the other two situations.

            When it concerns the relationship between musical style, satisfaction and the amount of money spent in the store, the kind of music don’t have influences in the amount of money that consumers plan to spend, but the musical style jazz and lounge music has strong influence and makes consumers spend more (MANDILA, GEROGIANNIS, 2012). Also found in this same study, the fact that the volume of music and gender affect consumer satisfaction.

            Other studies have related musical genres with the perception of time that the consumer stays in the store (differentiating male and female), the mood of the consumer during the shopping experience, the decision to return to the store (MACIEL; et al 2010), and attitude approach/remoteness (MARCELINO; et al 2011). Both studies used as music genres forró, gospel, soul and axé. The first demonstrated that there are significant differences in perception of time remained in the store over the musical style (axé with more score and soul with lower score). With respect to gender (male and female), men are less sensitive to variations in musical rhythm. With regard to the gender of the consumer mood axé was what caused less positive feelings consumers of both sexes, and the case of the probability of return, the musical genre that got the axé was the lowest average.

            The second study was based on the model PAD (Pleasure, Dominance and Activation) of Mehrabian and Russell (1974, apud DONOVAN, ROSSITER, 1982) adapted to retail by Donovan and Rossiter (1982), which consists of 36 items distributed in 18 sensations and demonstrated that the gospel music genre caused a higher level of approximation for both sexes.

            Also based on PAD model, Andersson, et al (2012) sought to explore whether music played in retail environment affects consumer behavior using gender (male/female) as moderator. The results showed that female consumers were more positive when present in the environment without music or slow songs, and male consumers were more positive when present in the environment with music and fast-paced music. An interesting point found in research is that the music has negatively affected the level of satisfaction, but consumers tended to increase the average ticket in an environment with music.

            Guéguen, et al (2008) studied the effect of environmental music on beer consumption. The experiment was conducted in two bars in the west of France, with 40 subjects; the environmental music was manipulated to be played at 72 db (Low level condition) and 88 db (high level condition).  The observation were made during 3 nights, 2 observers situated in 2 different places in the bars where the experiment took place were used; the observers were instructed to count the drinks ordered until the subjects left the bar, for each observant note the time spent for each drink and the other observer note the number of gulps by each customer. They found that when the sound level was high this led to an increase consumer’s drinking speed.

            Lai and Chiang (2012) purposes on their study a method for placement background music on shopping website and examine the effect on user’s emotions and cognitive responses. They manipulate background music in an online bookstore playing the music by 2 min, 4 min and 6 min, with a constant volume (60db). When the background music was played after browsing could induce higher pleasure, arousal and approach behavior. When the background music was played at the start of browsing the participants showed less pleasure and arousal.

            Cheng, et al (2009) show in their paper the effect of ambient factors (music and colors) in physical stores and the website design. They relate two environmental variables (music and color) and two dependent constructs (pleasure and arousal), the method used was experiment 2x2 (music tempo: fast / slow x color hue: warm / cool). The study was conducted on 128 subjects interacting on a web page and after responding to a questionnaire containing 12 – item semantic differential scale (pleasure and arousal model). The results showed that participants felt more aroused and pleased under the fast music condition than those exposed to the slow music condition, when participants were exposed to warm color condition they reveal a higher level of arousal than those exposed to cool color condition.

            Vaccaro, et al (2011) examined the relationship of liked atmospheric music with consumer perceptions of three emotion dimensions (happy, sad, and irritating), prior shopping experience, and return patronage intentions in retail and service setting. 248 participants visited some retail and services stores and answered a survey with questions about liked mood, music dimensions, avoid return patronage and prior retail patronage. The results of this study show that liked music is significantly related to consumer’s prior shopping experience, and liked music is correlated with emotion’s dimension, so, when subjects heard happy and “liked” music they had highest shopping intentions.

6.         CONCLUSION

            The purpose of this study is to do a literature review of national and international papers during the period 2008 - 2012 with the objective to understand what has been studied in this area.

            According to Kim and Kim (2012) “… retailers continually manage and control their stores’ physical atmospherics. The influence of physical surroundings in retail stores is considered a very important issue for retailers in that retail environmental cues…” (p. 818). The influence of music on consumer behavior has been demonstrated in studies involving the purchase decision of the consumer and his stay at the point of sale. One commonality found in studies was that when music is regarded as familiar to the consumer, it brings more positive responses in relation to purchase intention, the perceived time, the approach/remoteness, satisfaction and average ticket spending (ANDRADE, BARBOSA, 2009; MACIEL, et al 2010; MARCELINO, et al, 2011; VACCARO, et al, 2009; LAI, CHIANG 2012; GUÉGUEN, et al, 2008; VACCARO, et al 2011; GUÉGUEN, JACOB 2010). Another important point to emphasize is that the consumer is affected differently when separated by gender. Women have been shown to be more sensitive in the buying decision depending on the genre than men.

            As demonstrated in this study, there are few national studies linking music with consumer behavior. Some suggestions for future research are to relate this issue with the dimension consumer loyalty, and change the locations of the experiment, whereas there are several covariates that may influence the response to the music. An example is the study conducted by Mandila and Gerogiannis (2012) in a coffee bar environment, where the authors found as covariant the number of people present in the coffee bar during the study. Consumers evaluate better the entertainment and elegance issues of the place when there were 3 or more people present in environment.

            Table 1 shows that the most used dependents variables are: shopping intention, time perception, return intention, amount of time, amount of money, mood, approach / avoidance, time spent, satisfaction, money spent, product involvement, pleasure and arousal and return patronage intention. Turley and Milliman (2000) increased one more variable in atmospherics variables based on Berman and Evans (1995 apud TURLEY, MILLIMAN, 2000) there was external variables (e.g. exterior signs, entrances, size of building), general interior variables (e.g. music, lightning, temperature, color), layout and design variables (e.g. space design, waiting areas, department locations), point of purchase and decoration variables (e.g. point of purchase displays, signs and cards, wall decorations) and human variables (e.g. employee characteristics, employee uniforms, crowding), other suggestion is to relate music with some human variables to try to discover if some characteristics of the employees combining with background music or environmental music can increase or decrease arousal and what effect can be induced on customers.

            Another point described by others review is that there is a necessity to go beyond the S-O-R Paradigm and approach / avoidance paradigm (KELLARIS, 2008; TURLEY, MILLIMAN, 2000; EROGLU, MARCHLEIT, 2008) to expand the theories or create another one that can give some other explanation found in experiments. Kellaris (2008) says that “…to understand the potential influences of music, researchers must get inside shopper’s heads and examine how music influences cognitive processes that shape evaluations, preferences, and choices” (p. 841).

7.         REFERENCES

ANDERSSON, P., K.; KRISTENSSON, P.; WÄSTLUND, E.; GUSTAFSSON, A. (2012) Let the music play or not: the influence of background music on consumer behavior. Journal of retailing and consumer services, v. 19, n. 6, p. 553-560.

ANDRADE, F., A.; BARBOSA, S., C. (2009) Influência da música ambiente sobre o comportamento de clientes e funcionárias de uma loja de varejo de moda feminina. Psicologia IESB, v. 1, n. 1, p. 11-20.

BAKER, J., GREWAL, D., PARASURAMAN, A. (1994). The influence of store environment on quality inferences and store image. Journal of the academy marketing science, v. 22, n.4, p. 328-339.

BROEKEMIER, G.; MARQUARDT, R.; GENTRY, J. W. (2008) An exploration of happy/sad and liked/disliked music effects on shopping intentions in a women’s clothing store service setting. Journal of Services Marketing, v. 22, n. 1, p. 59–67.

CHENG, F. – F.; WU, C. – S.; YEN, D. C. (2009). The effect of online store atmosphere on consumer’s emotional response – an experimental study of music and colour. Behavior & Information technology, v. 28, n.4, p. 323 – 334.

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DONOVAN, R. J.; ROSSITER, J., R.; MARCOOLYN, G.; NESDALE, A. (1994). Store atmosphere and purchasing behavior. Journal of retailing, v. 70, n. 3, P. 283 – 294.

EROGLU, S., A.; MACHLEIT, K. A. (2008). Theory in consumer – environment research. Handbook of Consumer Psychology, p. 823-835.

FERREIRA, D. C. S. (2007). Efeitos de música ambiente sobre o comportamento do consumidor: análise comportamental do cenário de consumo. Tese (Instituto de Psicologia) – Universidade de Brasília, Brasília.

GUÉGUEN, N.; JACOB, C. (2010) Music congruency and consumer behavior: an experimental field study. International Bulletin of Business Administration, ISSN: 1451-243X Issue 9, EuroJournals.

GUÉGUEN, N.; JACOB, C.; GUELLEC, LE, H.; MORINEAU, T.; LOUREL, M. (2008) Sound level of environmental music and drinking behavior: a field experiment with beer drinkers. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, v. 32, n. 10, p. 1795 – 1798.

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LAI, C. - J.; CHIANG, C. - C. ( 2012).  Effects of placement point of background music on shopping website. Work: A journal of prevention, assessment and rehabilitation. v. 41, supplement 1/2012, p. 5419-5421.

MACIEL, D., F.; ARRUDA, D., M., O.; LEOCÁDIO, Á; GELEILATE, J., M., G.; MARCELINO, D., M., N. (2010) A influência de estilos musicais no humor, tempo percebido e decisão de retorno em loja de consumo popular. IV Encontro de Marketing da ANPAD.

MANDILA, M.; GEROGIANNIS,V. (2012) The effects of music on customer behavior and satisfaction in the region of Larissa – the cases of two coffee bars. International conference on contemporary marketing issues (ICCMI).

MARCELINO, D., M., N.; GELEILATE, J., M., G.; ARRUDA, D., M., O.; MACIEL, D., F.; LEOCÁDIO, Á. (2011)  A influência da música ambiente no comportamento de aproximação e afastamento do consumidor: um estudo baseado no modelo PAD. Perspectivas Contemporâneas, v. 6, p. 45-79.

TURLEY, L., W.; MILLIMAN, E. R. (2000) Atmospheric effects on shopping behavior: A review of the experimental evidence. Journal of Business Research, 49, p. 193-211.

VACCARO, V. L.; YUCETEPE, V.; AHLAWAT, S.; LEE, M. – S. (2011) The relationship of liked music with music emotion dimensions, shopping experience and return patronage intentions in retail and service settings. Journal of academy of business and economics, v. 11, n. 4, p. 94-106.

VACCARO, V., L.; YUCETEPE, V.; TORRES-BAUMGARTEN, G.; LEE, M. – S. (2009). The Impact of atmospheric scent and music-retail consistency on consumers in a retail or service environment. Journal of international business and economics, v. 9, n. 4, p. 185-196.


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