Man playing guitar

Did you know that many stores’ sound consultants suggest creating a “permanent party atmosphere” to attract younger crowds to shop? Emily Anthes notes that loudness may annoy the sound-sensitive customers, but overall, it pays really well. She points out that shoppers make more impulsive purchases when they are overstimulated. Apparently, boosting sales by using sounds is a thing: Loud music leads to sensory overload, which weakens self-control (“It’s So Loud, I Can’t Hear My Budget!” – “Psychology Today” magazine).

Woman carrying shopping bags out of a business that succedded in boosting sale by using sounds

How Does Sound Affect Us?

“Overload makes people move into a less deliberate mode of decision making,” says Kathleen Vohs, an associate professor of marketing at the University on Minnesota. “People might be more likely to be lured by brand names, fooled by discounts on items that they might not really want, and susceptible to other influences.”

Just like any other architectural component, sound has become a very popular way of persuading customers as they enter an establishment. Think about what your business could do to positivley use this information. What age crowd are you serving? How do you want them to feel visiting your place? How do you want your employees to feel? Maximizing productivity or boosting sales by using sounds is all under your control.

Use this information appropriately: Do not use loud music to keep your employees overstimulated at work. But remember that, for example, providing small doses of stimulation to employees during break hours can help to recharge the brain, consequently leading to a more productive work performance.

Boosting sales by using sounds in a restaurant setting

In restaurants, music can affect mood as much as the colors and materials you select. For example, in addition to red colors that arouse the appetite, slow music encourages patrons to linger – motivating them to splurge on that dessert or extra drink.

A recent review of 157 retail stores, published in the Journal of Business Research, showed that background music significantly boosts customers’ pleasure as well – and often the time and money they spend in a store.

Boosting sales by using sounds in a mall

Other sounds affect us too, such as the chattering of customers. Many restaurants stopped using sound absorbing materials to create environments that feel more alive and successful. Consult your architectural designer on what materials to use for your business to create appropriate sound control and sound transmission level.

In other settings, sounds can be used to create a feeling of calm and relaxation, appropriate not only to venues such as spas or beauty parlors, but also hotels.

Water feature in a hotel lobby, creating a sense of calm and relaxation

Jade Dragon Hotel, China, designed by Mindful Design Consulting. Rendering by Ryan Knope. This hotel lobby was designed following different aspects of Feng Shui. This is one of the three entrances to the hotel having water as the main theme. The feature at the center of the atrium provides a soothing sound of fresh running water. It echoes throughout the tall space, bringing feelings of relaxation and comfort to the guests. 

The sound of ocean waves as the ideal one for bringing in feelings of calm and relaxation

Sounds to Use in Business Spaces

Here are some sounds that have been proven to affect us in certain ways and can be used in business settings.

TEMPO: In restaurants, slow music encourages patrons to linger, motivating them to splurge on that dessert or extra drink. Faster, more contemporary music attracts younger crowds.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: When a wine store played French music, most customers bought French wine, while German music spurred sales of German wine, according to a University of Leicester study. Researchers theorize that regional music makes shoppers think of that country, and therefore primes them to buy its wine. Boosting sales by using sounds should be done with great regard to such details. 
LYRICS: Good news for waiters everywhere: A recent French study revealed that playing songs with “prosocial” lyrics – those about empathy and helping others – can increase tips.
OCEAN WAVES: Did you know that the sound of waves has exactly the same rhythm as the ones produced by the breathing of a sleeping human body? That explains our tendency to relax when we hear the sound of waves in the background. This particular one urges the body to go into sleeping mode. Not a bad design element to complement your spa or massage parlor.
CHIRPING BIRDS: Sounds produced by birds bring about feelings of calm and reassurance. This is a result of our evolutionary history, when we would listen to and observe animals’ behavior around us to make sure we are safe. When the birds were happily chirping, we knew there were no predators. This is a great idea as a background for your working space.

The sounds of bird chirping as a great way to increase productivity in an office

One more interesting fact: You are about 1/3 as productive in large open offices as in quiet rooms. Therefore, psychologists recommend to wear headphones if you have to work in an open office, and to listen to something reassuring like the sounds of birds. This will get your productivity back up.

Using sounds to increase productivity in an open office

Written materials used in this article came from work of Julian Treasure (learn more about how sounds affect us) and Emily Anthes.

If you are thinking to open a new business or are in the process of rebranding and remodeling your existing business, contact us to get a free consultation from Mindful Design Consulting. Click HERE to price your project design.

Also, take a look at the “Branding By Interior” e-book, the only book written on this subject at this time. It brings insight into how you can turn your business into a market-dominating competitor by using human cognitive responses.