Sample Dissertation: Effect of Music on Consumer Behaviour

The present study was carried out to ascertain the effect of music on consumer behaviour in UK’s most popular footwear retailer: Clarks.Due to intense competition in the footwear retailing market, the company has taken recent steps to broaden its target market by selling fashionable shoes to younger more fashion conscious shoppers.Store atmospherics, particularly music played, was proposed as a likely option for attracting these customers.

Existing literature was reviewed to ascertain the effects of these.

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Certain views exist that suggest music is essential in certain retail environments. It could influence consumers into staying longer in store, positively affect their mood, and even purchase more items within the store. While other views claim that its main relationship to purchasing behaviour is in its indirect effect on mood, which could in turn positively affect purchasing behaviour. Quantitative surveys were carried out with 50 customers in store to ascertain their music preference and the process through which music affects their choice of stores and their purchasing behaviour. This questionnaire was distributed to customers within a Clarks store. Data was collected and analysed using SPSS and Excel.

Results gathered form the quantitative study illustrated that a majority of customers venturing into the store (40.9%) are aged 25 – 34. Customers aged under 50 account for a majority of visitors to the store (78.6%), while those over 50, which are traditionally Clarks’ market segment, account for only 21.4% of visitors to the store. The music preferences of most visitors to the store were Pop/Alternative, R&B/Slow and HipHop. 64% of all respondents work within offices. Likert scale responses illustrate that most customers agreed that they notice the music playing in the background (72.8%) and liked the music playing in the background (52.6%). 68.9% also claimed that the sort of music played affects their mood within the store, while 46.6% would not mind staying longer in the store as long as the music being played is appropriate. The sort of music playing does not influence their choice to patronize, or purchase more shoes. However, 65.5% claim that it positively affects their mood. Customers aged 25 – 34 have a higher preference for Pop/Alternative, R&B and Hip Hop music.

Therefore if the segment of customers sought all indicate that they prefer Hip Hop, R&B and Pop/Alternative music, which could positively affect their purchasing behaviour by influencing their mood. Then it is possible that Clarks could better attract and retain this segment of customers by changing the sort of music being played within its stores. The company could also train staff in empathy, which could in turn positively affect customers’ moods.


Kotler first described the concept of store atmospherics in 1973. Atmospherics are all the factors that go into making the atmosphere and general ‘feel’ of a retail store: the decor, the music, the temperature, humidity, and so forth. Atmospherics go a long way towards determining whether a customer remains in the store longer, spends more (or less) money and returns at a later date. In this dissertation, the researcher will examine the affects of background music on purchasing decisions with general reference to the UK footwear retailing industry, and with specific reference to the UK’s most popular footwear retailer, C & J Clarks Ltd.

a.The nature of the industry

According to information presented in Mintel (2008), the UK footwear retailing industry has been characterised as having low barriers to entry. This fact has resulted in a large amount of specialist and non-specialist retailers all competing for substantial market share. Specialist footwear retailers are those considered to generate more than 50% of sales from footwear, whilst non-specialist footwear retailers generate less than 50% of sales from footwear. The majority of specialist and non-specialist footwear retailers maintain strategies focused on product quality and price.

Recent trends show that the footwear industries low entry barriers have also resulted in several low-cost retailers now entering the market such as: Primark, Tesco, Zappos, and Amazon, just to name a few. These retailers focus on a secondary differentiation strategy based on customer need as well as price. Such retailers provide low-cost footwear, which has led to a shift in consumer purchasing behaviour. Some customers previously willing to pay a higher price for better quality footwear now prefer to buy low-cost footwear sold by these specific retailers.

Although the footwear retail industry has been recently flooded with new entrants, the market remains highly segmented. Keynote (2008) suggests that three main segments exist in the footwear retail market: upper (AB), middle (BC1), and lower (DEF). Whilst some retailers have been able to secure customer loyalty through effective brand positioning, others have not. The latter have either been forced to compete based on price, or go bankrupt.

When examining purchasing behaviour even further, it becomes evident that certain atmospheric conditions also contribute to the customer’s shopping experience. This therefore raises the issue of the sustainability of current positioning within the footwear retail industry. It is suggested that appropriate generic strategies coupled with atmospherics will aid in determining the purchasing behaviour of the footwear retail customers of today and tomorrow.

b.The organisation’s positioning within the industry

C&J Clarks Ltd., established in 1825, is a family owned business and the UK’s most popular footwear retailer. The company leads the industry in terms of sales with a market share of 9%, estimated sales of 45 million pairs of shoes, and a turnover of ?973 million in 2007 (Gemma, 2007). It operates as a specialist retailer, selling its own brand of footwear for men, women and children (Keynote, 2008).

Clarks is positioned as a middle market, comfort retailer characterised by its contemporary footwear designs and marketing. Its stores are well lit, clearly laid out and conservative. This marketing strategy is tailored to cater for its most loyal and profitable market segment of BC1 50+ population who were attracted to its brand name and comfortable, not necessarily fashionable shoes (Mintel, 2008). These product ranges are distributed through a range of outlets encompassing 552 UK stores, 1900 UK stockists, 210 outlets in the US and a myriad of wholesalers in Asia and the Middle East (Clarks, 2009).

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c. Nature of the perceived issue

Clarks’ current consumers are mostly return customers who have a high level of brand loyalty. However there is a large untapped market that Clarks has been slow/failed to attract. This includes the segment of fashion-focused individuals who frequently buy shoes because of their design and would not mind paying a premium due to brand advantage (Gemma, 2007). There is also the segment of comfort-focused, under-50s who prefer to buy comfortable shoes for work and leisure. They represent a significant and promising portion of Clark’s customers.

In order to reach these untapped markets, Clarks has invested in improving its image by introducing some new fashion-end product designs that appeal to the current market trends. The company is also trying to find a synergy between its traditional comfortable designs and changing customer trends.

Despite these initiatives, certain customers that fit into this target segment proclaim dissatisfaction during store purchases, or fail to convert into customers after entering the store. Clark’s store design is currently suited and effectively delivered at its target segment. The stores are brightly coloured, with black leather seats in the middle of the store and Pop/Alternative music playing. However, the target customers are generally younger, usually more fashionable, have a different lifestyle with differing tastes in fashion, art, and music. Therefore, is Clarks’ current marketing strategy effective given their current positioning, brand perception and the potential market they are missing out on?

Whilst items such as cost and quality have generally been the focus at Clarks, the company is beginning to direct more of its attention to the concept of store atmospherics and their affect on consumer purchasing behaviour. When examining this concept, it is important to ask if Clarks’ store atmospherics are effective in attracting the younger generationShould Clarks’ work further on the general ‘feel’ of a retail store: the decor, the temperature and humidity, and most importantly on the choice of background musicWould a focus on the background music played in its stores help Clarks’ to strike a chord with the younger generation and influence their purchasing decisions?

Competing stores that sell the sort of shoes these younger consumers want usually have different store designs and adopt different styles of art and music. Aldo, for instance, plays hip hop and other music that is quite popular amongst younger people, and generally have a more “younger” store designs with mannequins and fashion shows displayed on TV. Top Man and River Island play rock music and have a more contemporary store design.

These stores have adopted different store design concepts and are therefore more successful in targeting the sort of customers that Clarks wants. Would Clarks therefore be more successful in attracting this new segment if they played background music that suits younger customers better and does not make them feel like they are in a store targeted at older people?

d.Research aim

The intent of this research dissertation is to examine the affects of different types of background music on purchasing decisions. The research will examine and suggest what type of background music Clarks should adopt in order to attract the younger generation and reach this untapped market.

The research objective is therefore to ascertain the effect of music on consumer behaviour within Clarks, by answering the following questions:

What is the impact of music on the volume of consumer purchases

What type of background music should Clarks adopt in order to attract younger customers


This study examines the role of background music in a retail environment.

a.Marketing Strategies

Marketing strategy is broadly defined by Baker (2008), as representing the communications process underlying an organisation’s effort to leverage its core resources on existing market opportunities in order to achieve sustainable competitive advantage. This definition has been supported by a number of theorists, who postulate that marketing strategy is the general procedure and underlying notion upon which the firm’s approach to the market depends (McDonald, 2008) as it illustrates the company’s best opinion as to how to profitably leverage its resources into the marketplace (McDonald, 2008).

A successful marketing strategy therefore involves a company selecting and analysing a profitable and sustainable market segment; developing an appropriate marketing mix to cater for this segment; marketing the right brand and retaining these customers through an effective use of its resources (Doyle, 1997). This view of relating the company’s resources to its marketing activities provides the basis for defining the major marketing capabilities which could be used to create sustainable competitive advantage – capabilities which all stem from the central processes within which marketing is concerned (Hooley et al, 2004).

However a marketing strategy built without an understanding of the changing organisational environment and how each of industrial force impacts on its value creation is bound to fail (Doyle, 1997). Therefore for a firm to build and sustain its competitive advantage in a highly competitive industry, it should acquire a thorough understanding of its organisational environment, and how each industry factor impacts on its business strategy (Porter, 2008). A knowledge base, which could be the foundation of a beneficial customer driven – business strategy.

b.Music and its affects

Music has become an important instrument in examining consumer behaviour and it motivates individuals to spend more time in stores. Since the 1970’s and Kotler’s (1974) pioneering work, the importance of atmospheric affects on consumer behaviour has gained popularity among academic researchers. A number of studies reveal the positives of musical congruity upon desired outcomes (Oakes & North, 2008). According to Dune and Morin (2001), variations in the intensity of pleasure induced by background music have an influence on the store assessment. The choice of music can have a positive or negative affect on consumers. It can be used to relive stress or to create a good atmosphere so as to increase business.

Music has a significant affect on consumer’s attitudes. A research on happy/sad music has been conducted and found that happy/sad music had a significant direct affect on shopping intention while the direct affect of like/dislike music was marginally significant. However, the combination of the two music dimensions investigated is perhaps most noteworthy. According to Broekemier and Gentry (2008), shopping intention was greatest when subjects were exposed to happy music.

Store image and mood of the customers can be changed with the music. In the case study by (Morrison, 2006), it was found that specifically programmed music can play a role in the total shopping experience and can be an important tool in creating a memorable identity for specific retail brands. If the music was specifically designed to fit a particular demographic and physiographic, then customers tended to relax and stayed longer in the store. In research conducted by Bailey and Areni (2006) found that, in the case of a respondent who waited idly and hence monitored the passage of time, familiar music reduced perceived duration compared to unfamiliar music. The study by Alpert and Alpert (1990) showed that when an evoked mood matched the mood of the purchase occasion, buying intention was higher than when the music and moods were inconsistent.

Garlin and Owen (2006) found that the mere presence of music had a positive effect on patronage as well as the feeling of pleasure. Tempo is an important structural component of music that directly relates to the arousal response (Day et al, 2009). Slower tempo, lower volume and familiar music resulted in the subject staying marginally longer at the venue than when the tempo or volume was high, or the music less familiar. The higher the volume and tempo of the music, the longer customers perceive time duration.

The study by Morin et. al., (2007) found that the presence of music operates at the perceptual level by contributing to the holistic quality of the service-scape and creating a greater contrast against which the provider stands out more powerfully. It therefore is reasonable to assume that other ambient factors might operate according to similar mechanism.

In other research by Cameron et. al., (2003), the study of low-cost waiting context, music was found to exhibit both cognitive (on wait-length evaluation) and affective (on mood) influence. However, music’s positive contribution to overall experience evaluation appears to be through mood and not through wait-length evaluation.

c.Music in other environments

Music has many affects on society as a whole. It can be used for relaxation, affection with others, to express emotion, and myriad of other affects. This also relates to business, in that those things that affect us in music can be used to influence us as consumers (Coloma & Kleiner, 2005). A research by Hallam and Price (1998) indicates the introduction of background music of a calming nature into the classroom significantly improved the performance of a group of emotionally and behaviourally disturbed children on a math task and led to a significant decrease in rule breaking behaviour over the period of study.

A study conducted by Milliman (1986) on the influence of background music on the behaviour of restaurant patrons isolated the background music as an atmospheric variable that could affect the atmosphere of a store (in this case a restaurant). With the slow tempo background music used in this study, patrons stayed longer, ate about the same amount of food, but consumed more alcoholic beverages. Evidently the slower, perhaps more soothing background music, created more relaxing environment (greater approach condition). It is also interesting to note that the number of customers that left the restaurant before being seated remained about the same whether slow or fast tempo music was played. This would tend to support the conclusion that the background music contributed to an approach environment regardless of its tempo.

It has been said that background music can communicate particular meanings or associations. A study conducted by Zhu and Meyers-Levy (2005) focused on distinguishing between the meanings of music. When background music affects product perceptions, Zhu and Meyers-Levy concluded that ad background music could confer either referential or embodied meanings. This means that people discern and use music when forming their product perceptions. This appears to depend on how intensively they process the advertisement and the resource demand imposed by the verbal and material input.

A more recent study by Edworthy and Waring (2006) has shown significant results about the loudness and tempo of background music on exercise performance. It has been shown that the speed of music directly affects performance and heart rate. The results of this study also show that both the volume and the tempo of the music, as well as the use of the music per se, has affects on performance itself, heart rate and some subjective parameters. It also shows that volume and tempo of music interact in an interesting way. Looking at the task performance, the study shows more than anything else the speed of the music affects the speed at which the participant runs. Faster music produces faster speeds, but louder volumes do not produce faster speeds. There is an interaction between treadmill speeds, music volume, and music tempo in that fast, loud music is particularly effective in increasing speed of running during the test period. It was also found that volume has an affect in the fast music condition but not in the slow music condition. Thus heart rate increases if the volume of fast music is increased but not if the volume of slow music increased. Thus it has been shown that the speed of the music directly affects performance and heart rate. The added benefit of playing music loudly only appears to apply when music is played fast.

The present results show that music can, like background speech, disrupt writing fluency. Writers apparently slow writing production to preserve quality when writing is accompanied by background music. It does not matter if the music is vocal or instrumental or both, despite some students’ anecdotes that instrumental music does not disrupt their writing as much as vocal (Gilroy & Ransdell, 2001).

A research conducted by Gotell et. al., (2002) confirmed observations in the music therapy and nursing literatures, to the positive influence of background music on patient communication, mood and compliance. These results suggest that background music and singing are useful interventions for late-stage dementia patients.

In a research conducted by Kallinen (2002), the results show that music tempo may have an impact on reading. There are several possible explanations why the reading rate and efficiency decreased when the tempo of the music was slowed down. The slow music may have produced a more relaxed feeling for reading. Women showed the most positive judgments on news in the no-music condition, whereas men showed the most positive judgments on news in the slow-music condition. Slow background music could be played for men and no music or fast music for women to create more positive attitudes to news. In this study, both subject driven (gender) and object based (music) differences in reading were found.

Brodsky (2001) found that the tempo of background music consistently affected both stimulated driving speed and perceived speed estimates. As the tempo of background music increased, so did both simulated driving speed and speed estimates. Without background music, subjects’ accelerated to moderately quick speeds while they perceived their velocity to be fairly slow. Another finding of the study is that the tempo of background music consistently affected the frequency of virtual traffic violations.

The results of the research conducted by Kellaris and Cox (1989) on the effects of background music in advertising cast doubt on the contention that product preferences can be conditioned reliably by a single exposure to appealing or unappealing music. However, this does not mean that affective conditioning never occurs.

Hallam et. al., (2002) conducted a research on the effects of background music on primary school and found that, where the type of background music played can be clearly defined by a group of listeners as calming and pleasant or arousing and unpleasant, it can have distinctive effects on task performance and the reporting of intended altruistic behaviour. The effects of music on task performance are mediated through its effects on arousal and mood. However, the research reported provides only a very small contribution to our understanding of the ways that music might affect behaviour and various forms of studying. The findings also show that some music can disrupt concentration and generate moods which may lead to less altruistic states of mind.

d.Music and Scent

The research conducted by Spangenberg et. al., (2005) found that consistency between an ambient scent and music in a retail setting leads to more favourable evaluations of the store, its merchandise and the store environment. Behavioural intentions to visit the store are also positively affected by consistency between ambient scent and music. Mattila and Wirtz (2001) examined in their study the notion that consumers perceive environmental cues in a holistic manner. They propose that consumer responses to a physical environment may depend on the ensemble effects, and they examined this proposition using two ambient cures, music and scent. In another case study by Michon (2005), it was found that slow tempo music influenced shopper’s positive affect, whilst fast tempo music and ambient odours mediate shopper’s perception of the mall environment.

In research conducted by McDonnell (2007) on music, scent and time preferences for waiting lines, it was found that music and scent can increase customer satisfaction among customers kept waiting in a line and reduce queue rage. This research also found that the need for time management indirectly influenced customer satisfaction when a customer is waiting for service by a negative affect on emotions that have a negative association with service evaluation. This offers a new perspective and opportunity for marketers.

e.Music and Retail

Klemz and Boshoff (2001) conducted research on environmental and emotional influences on willingness to buy in small and large retailers. In the retail industry, there is stiff competition between small retailers and big retail outlets. Klemz and Boshoff conducted research in a small town in mid-western USA and found that customer’s perceptions were different between the large and small retail districts. It was found that small retailers in the downtown retail district use empathy to influence customer’s willingness to buy, whereas large national chain retailers in the one stop district use assurance to influence a customer’s willingness to buy. It was also found that small retailers in the down town district manage empathy primarily by managing responsiveness whereas large retailers balance tangibility, reliability, and responsiveness to manage perception of assurance.

Music may be used to help create a distinctive image and position in the market. There are numerous examples of service providers who use music to help create atmospheres that are consistent with their service offerings (Herrington and Capella, 1996). In one study conducted in the USA in a supermarket, it was found that music does make a difference in the supermarkets and is seen as an established part of a supermarket experience. The researches said “it is music we like that gets us going rather than music per se”. The reason for selecting a supermarket environment was because most of the US households shop for groceries from supermarkets at least once a week (Progressive Grocer). Herrington and Capella (1996) also pointed out that restaurants often play appropriately ethnic music. For example; Asian restaurants play bangra music, Pizza houses play Neapolitan love songs, Greek bistros play Zorba’s dance, etc., but given the vast range of musical taste in the population at large, supermarkets face the challenge of selecting music that not only does not offend but makes a positive contribution to the store’s ambience.

According to a study by Sullivan (2002), it shows that in a restaurant setting, music can be used to affect the behaviour of individuals. It was examined that restaurant owners wishing to increase the level of expenditure on food and drinks should consider playing music at a relatively low volume. The study showed that the type of music is less important and tempo had no significant affects on expenditures. It suggested that it is not the presence of music that is important, but rather the perception of whether that music is typical for that particular environment. The findings of this study also indicate that the presence of any type of music in the waiting area can affect the perceptions of time of those waiting (passive activity) and may make the wait seem more bearable.

A research conducted by Yalch and Spangenberg (1990) found that music enhances a retail environment and thus results in increased store traffic, greater customer satisfaction and higher sales. The further finding of the initial research is the clear difference in perceptions of the amount of time spent shopping as a function of shoppers, age and type of music.

Popular music is no longer limited to low-income youth (Henderson, 2009). Music can influence the disposition of shoppers and manifest itself in choice of store, propensity to purchase, basket size and intent to repatronage (Soars, 2009). A study conducted in Greece by Daskalopoulou and Petrou (2005) indicates that the store size, product variety, location and belonging to a chain variable exert the largest positive effect upon the probability that a store experience will result in an above average performance. Miranda et. al., (2005), in their research regarding shoppers’ satisfaction, found that shoppers’ intention to remain loyal to their primary store was in fact influenced by several other contextual factors. A number of staff related factors are also linked to consumer’s subsequent loyalty intentions and constitute key components of the servicescape (Harris & Ezeh, 2008).

A research conducted by Chebat et. al., (2001) on background music and instore selling, found that retailers using background music in their stores favour the generation of some types of cognitive responses, which may negatively influence the attitude towards the employees and the store if the music does not fit in the sales encounter.

The findings of the research conducted by Eroglu et. al., (2005) show that, consistent with the schema incongruity theory, shoppers’ hedonic and utilitarian evaluations of the shopping experience are highest under conditions of slow music high density and fast music low density. Furthermore, significant main affects of music tempo were found for behavioural responses such as future approach avoidance tendency toward the store and extent of browsing behaviour.

Vida et. al., (2007) conducted research on background music on consumer responses in high-end supermarkets. The results show that shoppers linking of the music in the natural retail setting and the perceived music fit with the store image and positively affected the length of shopping time which indirectly influenced consumer expenditure. They also found that music valence does not influence shopper’s behaviour directly and had no affect on the money spent in the store, and only an indirect affect on the time spent in the store. The result of their research provides evidence that the background music not only induces positive feelings in shoppers but also plays an important role as an intrinsic element of the store atmospherics and retail branding.

The results of another research by Oakes & North (2008) on background music had wider implications for the retail and services environment. The findings from this study suggest that musical presence, tempo and linking can provide a much more cost-effective option for managers by reducing perceptions of wait duration. These findings are also likely to have implications for managers of organisations seeking to manage perceptions of the amount of time that telephone customers are placed ‘on-hold’. The results revealed perceived wait duration to be a positive function of background musical tempo, thus supporting the prediction of the storage-size model of perceived duration.

Jacob et. al., (2009) conducted research on background music and found that music exerted a positive affect on the amount of money spent by customers. They found that when romantic music was played, customers spent more money than when no music was played or when pop music was played. In this experiment, no difference was found in the amount of money spent by customers when pop music was used as background music and when no music was played. This study also shows the comparison between the three conditions that romantic music had a positive effect on the amount of money spent by customers. No difference was found between the amount of money spent in the pop music or no music control conditions. So it cannot be that customers spent less money in the flower shop when they heard pop music than when they heard romantic music because pop music had a negative effect on them. Since they also spent less money when no music was playing, it must be that romantic music influenced them. The results suggested that background music in itself does not encourage customers to spend more money but there has to be congruence between the music played and the products offered.

f. Music and Customers

A study by Oakes (2000) reveals a significant relationship between specific musical variables and desired customer behavioural outcomes. These can be displayed in a visual framework entitled the musicscape. It has been found that live music, for example classical or jazz music, played on the piano in a restaurant may create high expectations of service as compared to the recorded music. The type of music used in the services organisation can also affect the length of time customers stay in the premises and the amount he or she buys. The study also found that music could manage customer’s perception of time and time pass more quickly when consumers have enjoyable music to listen to. Areni (2003) also noted that time passes more slowly if customers dislike atmospheric music. Therefore it is important to play music that consumers enjoy.

Happy/sad music had a significant direct affect on shopping intentions while the direct effect of like/dislike music was marginally significant. However, the combination of the two music dimensions investigated is perhaps more noteworthy as shopping intentions were greatest when subjects were exposed to happy music (Broekemier et al, 2006).

Sweeney & Wyber (2002) have described the role of cognitions in music. They described that music is well known for its effectiveness in triggering moods. Music is the only thing that can affect people during their time shopping in the store. Retailers have also recognised the importance of music in stores and also the fact that music differentiates a store from its competitors. In the research, it has been found that most of people enjoy music. It has been found that when classical music was played, shoppers had a high perception of service quality and pleasure if the music was of a fast tempo. When slow music was played, it was found that everyone liked that music more than other music and it also had a very strong independent affect on consumer’s pleasure and their perception of service quality. Pleasure and service quality had a positive affect on consumers when they were in the store and most of the shoppers spent more time exploring the store.

In a research by Milliman (1982) in a supermarket, consumers were exposed to no music, slow tempo music or fast tempo music. It was found that, in regard to the affect on customer pace, slower music produced slower traffic flow than no music, and faster tempo showed faster flow than no music, but was not significant based on the statistical measures of the study. But there was a significant difference between slow and fast tempo.

In another case study by Areni & Kim (1993), on the influence of background music on shopping behaviour, it was found that classical music influenced shoppers to spend more money. Additional findings suggested that, rather than increasing the amount of wine purchased, customers selected more expensive merchandise when classical music was played in the background.

Research conducted by Minor et. al., (2004) on customer satisfaction with musical performance resulted in a model suggesting six factors underlying customer satisfaction with live musical performance. Many of these factors reflect attitudes towards the sound of the group and individuals’ performance sound, musical ability, musician’s appearance and audience. Other factors reflected elements of the servicescape facility and stage. These elements suggest implementable recommendations to those in charge of hiring bands, managing facilities and to the bands themselves. An easily remedied element affecting consumer satisfaction is sound volume. By making simple adjustments to the sound system and bands, engineers can optimise this element for consumers. Further providing better quality sound through purchase of better sound equipment appears justified by these results.

Mattila and Wirtz (2006) conducted another research to test a theoretical framework that explains arousal congruency affects on consumer perceptions of an intrinsically pleasant service environment. The results of their research suggest that an intrinsically pleasant service environment might not be enough to guarantee pleasure and satisfaction. Specifically the amount of pleasure and satisfaction derived from the service experience might be dependent on the degree of congruency between the consumer target arousal levels and the actual arousal level of the service environment. High arousal congruency would greatly enhance customers’ perceptions of pleasure and satisfaction, while low arousal in congruency would adversely affect the level of pleasure and satisfaction derived. The results from this study also showed that in the state of arousal congruency for both pleasure and satisfaction were maximised.

It is widely expected that consumers enter into a consumption experience with a set of expectations of what they would like to happen. Another research by Wirtz et. al., (2007) found that satisfaction in pleasant service environments is driven by arousal level expectations being met by the arousal quality of the service environment, while such matching affects are much weaker or even fail to influence satisfaction in unpleasant settings. However, consumers’ in-store behavioural responses to services environments do not necessarily mirror their satisfaction evaluations.

A research by Wilson (2003) on the effects of music on perceived atmosphere and purchase intention in restaurants reported that different styles of music, and the absence of music, influence patron’s perceptions of the restaurant environment. A positive relationship was also found between patron’s perceptions of the restaurant and their perception of music. A factor analysis of responses to the restaurant provided evidence that different styles of music and no music led to differences in the general perceived characteristics of the restaurant. Due to the fact that the number of people dining in the restaurant fluctuated considerably on the same day before, during and after the testing period it is difficult to assess the influence of music on the actual sale, however classical music was associated with relatively few people remaining in the restaurant after 11 pm and a greater number of people leaving the restaurant earlier in the evening.

Results from the structural analyses conducted separately for low and high pleasure-intensity conditions suggest that more intense pleasure, via its impact on attitude towards the servicescape, not only succeed in inducing a more positive attitude towards the sales personnel, but also strengthened the relationship between consumer’s attitudes towards the sales personnel and store evaluation (Dube & Morin, 2001).

A research conducted on the style of background music and consumption in a bar by Jacob (2006) found the style of background music had an effect on customers’ behaviour. Drinking songs were shown to increase the length of time and the amount of money spent by patrons. The combined results of these studies prove that music influences drinking behaviour. The original contribution of study is that it shows that the style of music not just its level also influences consumer behaviour.

A research conducted by Kallinen and Ravaja (2003) showed that there are consistent personality-related differences in people’s emotional and other responses to news messages with two quite distinct audio characteristics i.e., slow vs. fast speech rate and rising vs. falling background music melody. The findings were largely in agreement with the principle of similarity-attraction; that is, people may be attracted to computer-mediated messages with audio characteristics manifesting emotions or a personality similar to their own.

A research conducted by Furnham and Strbac (2002) showed that an introvert’s performance is significantly lower than an extrovert’s performance in the presence of background music and noise but not in silence. It was also predicted that there would be a main affect for background sound. That is, overall performance would be better in silence than in background music and office noise. On the reading comprehension, introverts performance was impaired further by the addition of vocals to the background music and for extroverts their performance was improved by this factor (Furnham et. al., 1999).

Caldwell and Hibbert (2002) conducted research on the influence of music tempo and musical performance on restaurant patron’s behaviour and found some interesting and occasionally unexpected comparisons to previous research into the affects of music in service settings. When analysed separately, both music tempo and preference were found to be significantly related to time spent in the restaurant. As concerns the affects of music on spending, in initial analyses (in which the affects of the independent variables were assessed separately) both music tempo and musical preference appeared to significantly influence total spending and the amount spent on food and drink in the restaurant. Spending on food and drink was higher under the slow music condition and for people who rated their liking of the music higher.

g. Music and Productivity

A number of surveys have been carried out, mainly in United State of America, as to whether background music actually proved to have a beneficial effect on production. In 1962, a management consultancy called Case and Company carried out a test of Muzak on productivity at the Brooklyn factory of American Machine and Foundry CO. The study discloses significant improvements in the production performance (Grayston, 1974).

h. Research Questions

Based on the reviewed literature, there seem to be conflicting theories on the particular effect that music has on consumer behaviour. A number of theories claim that they do drive the consumer to spend more money in store, while others claim that it reduces the perceived impact of time on their stay, and thereby makes them feel less time conscious, which could in turn lead them to check out more items and buy more products

The research objective is therefore to ascertain the affect of music on consumer behaviour within Clarks, by answering the following question:

To what extend does music impact the volume of consumer purchase


a.Research Philosophy

Answering the research questions will entail adopting a positivist philosophy, in which the social world of firms and customers upon which this study is to be based exists externally and are not related to the researcher (Easterby-Smith, 2002). Therefore the data will be gathered objectively without being exposed to subjective interpretations of findings, which may vary amongst individuals. A deductive approach will also be adopted based on the positivist philosophy. Collis and Hussey (2003) imply that a deductive approach is a more effective method of carrying out positivist research as the methodology upon which the research is based is depicted from existing literature and theories, and not hypothesised by the researcher.

Easterby-Smith et al., (2008) states that an understanding of the research philosophy being adopted in management research is useful as it helps clarify research designs, showcases the best research approach and it also aids the researcher in identifying, creating and designing studies which may not be consistent with their past experiences.

b.Research Approach

The deductive approach is the dominant research approach in natural sciences, where laws present the basis of explanation (Collis and Hussey, 2003). This approach represents the most common view of the nature of the relationship between theory and research and results gotten from this approach are developed through logical reasoning (Bryman and Bell, 2007).

Triangulation, as proposed by Saunders et. al., (2008), will be utilized in the course of this dissertation project. Triangulation is essential when the study aims to capture data using different data collection techniques. Therefore this study will aim to collect data using structured quantitative methods and also secondary empirical studies.

Primary and secondary data gathering techniques will be used to analyse the research questions, which are aimed at finding the extent to which music influences the volume of consumer purchases. Secondary data will be gathered from market research sources regarding the retail environment and the affects of music on consumer behaviour. A vast majority of secondary data will be collected from previous research and empirical studies on what has already been written or observed in relation to music and consumers. Secondary data will also be gathered from market report sites such as Keynote and Mintel that may have reports on music and retail.

Primary data however will be gathered using quantitative surveys in Clarks stores asking customers questions on their purchasing behaviour and the extent to which music affects it. Questionnaires will be designed based on theories already depicted in the literature review, using a deductive approach. These questionnaires will be handed out to customers in the store where they will be briefed on the purpose of the research and asked for their help in filling out each individual question. The questionnaires will then be collected after each customer is done. Customers that failed to answer required questions will be omitted from the data analysis for the fear of incorrect or partial data.

c.Research Strategy

The study will be conducted on approximately 50 customers of Clarks store. Data will be collected through questionnaires distributed to customers within the store. Saunders et. al., (2007) suggests that questionnaires, or surveys, are an appropriate means for gathering information in answering the “who”, “what”, “where”, “how much”, and “how many” questions.

i.Explanatory Study

The goal of an explanatory study is to study the causal relationships between variables being measured during quantitative or qualitative studies (Saunders et. al., 2008). Explanatory studies aid in the identification of relationships contained within the data. The most common method used to conduct an explanatory study is that of variable correlation. Particular variables are analysed and correlated in order to find similarities between responses. This process is undertaken in order to provide any area of generalisability of the phenomena observed.

The focus of this research is to find the affects of background music on the volume of consumer purchasing. The explanatory method used in this research will be explained further in the analysis section of this dissertation.

ii.Quantitative Study

Two methods are commonly used when conducting research, quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative methods of research present data in a numerical fashion, whilst qualitative research methods focus on providing words. Due to the fact that this research study will utilise questionnaires, a multi-method approach to data collection will be used. A multi-method approach refers to the use and combination of more than one data collection method used during research analysis (Tashakkori and Teddlie, 2008). It has been suggested that a multi-method approach to data collection allows the researcher to better answer research questions.

This research study will utilise both questionnaires and secondary data in the collection and analysis of information gathered in order to answer the research question raised during the literature review. The dual approach will be used due to the fact that it is a more efficient way to analyse a different range of facts from different respondents (Easterby-Smith, 2002).

The multi-method approach to research is becoming increasingly popular in management studies where a combination of primary and secondary data may be used (Saunders et. al., 2007). The researcher’s decision to collect both quantitative and qualitative data through questionnaires but analyse the data using a statistical model results in the application of a multi-method approach. Tashakkori and Teddlie suggest that the multi-method approach is useful in helping researchers to answer questions. This approach is also said to allow for more efficient evaluations, which allows the findings to be more trusted.


The ability to gather primary data during this study was dependent on gaining access to an appropriate source within the organization. The level to which this source is appropriate relies on the research question, related objectives and research designs (Saunders et al, 2008). Therefore, the researcher, being close friends with an employee, was in a favorable position to get access within the organization.

The access was granted by the researcher going through a chain of command, first from the branch manager, to the head of marketing and finally to the head of market research. The researcher’s point of call was his friend’s immediate store manager, who immediately passed him on through to the most appropriate entity within the organization that was most suited to offer assistance. Easterby-Smith (2002) suggests that the best way to gain access into an organization is through known contacts.

d.Data Collection Methods

i.Sample Selection

Saunders et. al., (2008) suggest that a sample population is suitable for research whereby sampling the entire population is not possible, too expensive, time constrained, or when results are quickly needed. The majority of these factors apply to this research study; therefore the researcher has chosen to use a sample from the population in question. A sample size of 50 customers has been chosen for questioning.

Oppenheim (2005) describes a non-probability sample as a sample in which the probability of each case being selected from the total population is unknown. It is also suggested that in a non-probability sample it is impossible to answer research questions or to address objectives that require statistical inferences about the characteristics of the population. Therefore a non-probability sample would be the best use when describing the research undertaken for this dissertation.

The main reason for the choice to use a non-probability sample lies in the fact that Clarks store are located throughout the world and therefore it would be nearly impossible to use the entire sample population for this study. In this way, the researcher can focus on a few locations and distribute questionnaires to a variety of different customers. Saunders et. al., (2008) suggests that this type of non-probability sampling can be used to gain information regarding customer’s attitudes and behaviours. It is also for these reasons that the researcher has chosen to employ the non-probability sampling method.

Saunders et al (2008) states that though the non-probability sample may still be used to generalise some assumptions, these would not be based on statistical grounds. However, it could still be used to answer other forms of research questions that deal with the attributes and behaviour of the respondents.

Though it may still be argued that customers who entered the store may be representative of customers in that city or region, the different demographical characteristics of different regions makes it fairly impossible for this study to conclude on the assumption of a probability sample.

ii.Primary Data Collection

It is suggested that both primary and secondary data can be analysed using quantitative means. The fact that the researcher has chosen to collect his own data allows for more control over the structure of the sample and the data obtained. This method will also afford the researcher more confidence in gathering information pertinent to answering the research question. As a result, the researcher has chosen to distribute and collect questionnaires from 50 Clarks’ customers. This questionnaire method is described by Saunders et. al., (2008) as the delivery and collection questionnaire method. Respondents will receive the questionnaire whilst engaging in the retail experience and will be given able time in which to complete the questionnaire. The questionnaires will then be collected and analysed for any errors. Customers will then be asked follow-on questions if the need arises.


Prior to the distribution of the questionnaires, guidance was sought regarding the development of the questionnaire and which questions should be included. A pilot questionnaire was also tested on a sample of 7 individuals and subsequently revised based on feedback. Saunders et al (2008) suggests that the validity and reliability of data collected in the course of a research study, depends on to a large extent on the design of the questions, structure of the questionnaire and the rigour of pilot testing.

This study was therefore designed on the premise that an authentic questionnaire could only be achieved by appropriately designing a questionnaire to tackle all the research questions using the right quantitative methods. The questionnaire was divided into different cross sections depending on the level of analysis inherent and the type of information sought.

Questionnaires will be used in order to obtain valuable information from customers. The questionnaires will follow a standard structure and help will be given to any customers needing assistance with the questions. Questions contained in the questionnaire will centre on the customer’s overall shopping experience and any factors that may have enhanced or inhibited the experience. Questions will also be asked in regards to waiting times and how the process could be enhanced. The questionnaire will also contain questions centred on atmospherics and background music.

These questions will aim to gather information regarding customer’s moods and feelings about specific music. Comments will be solicited in regard to what type of background music could best enhance the customer’s retail experience and if any type of music could result in longer time in the store, or an increased volume in purchase. After the initial question phase, questionnaires will be gathered and collated. The excel tool will be used to aid in the process of collating data. The SPSS tool will then be used to analyse the information contained in the questionnaires.

iv.Data Analysis

Raw data in and of itself if useless, therefore it is necessary to employ data analysis tools in order to provide meaningful information. This section describes how the researcher analysed the data collected and the tools that were used to aid in the analysis process.

The excel tool and SPSS tool were both used when analysing the data collected. Univariates, which are total sample distributions of one variable at a time (Oppenheim, 2005) was utilised in analysing the frequency and percentage occurrence of each variable; including both ordinal and nominal, category and rating scale questions. Since the aim of this study was to focus on a more complex, analytical research, the real interest of the researcher was in the interrelatedness between certain variables. Frequency tables, bar charts and pie charts were therefore employed in the expression of the univariates.

Bivariate analysis, which was employed in the 2nd part of the data analysis, involved the analysis of interrelatedness between different variables. This analysis was carried out mostly using correlation and graphical analyses. Every effort was taken in order to group variables during the questionnaire design. This therefore aided in the correlation of the data.

v.Reliability, Validity, and Generalisability

Reliability refers to whether or not the data collected during research when analysed yield consistent findings (Saunders et. al., 2008). As the researcher has chosen the positivist approach, this result in issues surrounding whether or not the same results would be yielded on different occasions. Another issue concerning reliability as described by Robson (2002) is the possibility of bias on the part of the researcher.

Because the sample size is relatively small, it may be suggested that this study has issues concerning the generalisability of the information presented. Due to this fact the researcher is not entirely confident that the information gathered is the greatest representation of the general customer population.

vi.Ethical Issues

Specific ethical issues that may arise during the course of this research include the following:

The data gathered from customers may pose a threat to the organisation under study, if unfavourable research findings got out to competitors.

Customers would be worried about their data being gathered and used for illicit emails asking for further information.

vii.Limitations of Research

The following limitations were identified for this study:

The time frame given for the dissertation is quite short and may hinder extensive research.

The number of customers being questioned does not represent a probable sample of all customers patronising Clarks stores nationwide. Thereby affecting the generalisability and reliability of the research findings.

A quota sampling method could have been more appropriate as it would enable the researcher to get representative samples from all age groups in Clarks. Though the researcher did get a representative of all age groups in this study, the number of respondents gotten may not have been totally representative of the demographics of Clarks’ customers.

Some questions in the questionnaire turned out to be irrelevant, these could have been used to find more relevant data about the customers.

Data analysis was done basically through frequency and correlation analysis. A more in-depth analysis with a large array of data may have been more easily interpreted using advanced multivariate analysis. This could have enabled the researcher to find other hidden assumptions about the consumers’ behaviour.


a.Age Range

The age of all respondents who participated in this survey are summarised in figure 5. A total of 44 respondents filled in the section. 40.9% of the respondents were aged 25 – 34; 20.5% of the respondents were aged between 35 – 44 and 45 – 54.

Figure 1: Age range of respondents

b.Music Preference

A total of 45 respondents answered questions related to their musical genre preference. The highest portion of individuals (27%) chose Pop/Alternative music as their most preferred genre. Followed by R&B/Slow music, Hip Hop music (18%) and Rock (17%). 14% of respondents chose traditional music as their most preferred genre. The genre distribution is illustrated in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: Music preference of respondents

c.Income Range

A total of 37 respondents filled this section. 24.3% (n = 9) had an income range between ?20,000 – 30,000, 21.6% (n = 8) had income ranges well below ?15,000 and 18.9% of respondents (n = 7) were between ?30 – 40,000. Respondents whose income ranges were below ?30,000 made up 59.5% of all respondents (n = 21). The income range of all respondents who participated in this survey is shown in appendix 8.3.1.

Figure 3: Occupational environment of respondents

The occupational environment of respondents is summarised in the pie chart illustrated in figure 6. A total of 42 (84%) respondents answered this section. 33% (n = 14) claimed to work in a formal office environment, 31% (n = 13) in an informal office environment and 16.7% (n = 7) in educational institutions; mostly as teachers. Collectively 64.3% of all respondents work in an office environment be it Formal or Informal. A number of respondents also claimed to work in medical facilities (4.8%) and retail environment (7.1%) amongst others.


Figure 4: Likert scale response from Q1-Q4

The line chart illustrated in figure 4 showcases the respondents’ responses to four of the eight Likert scale questions asked regarding their preference for shopping and music. The following is a description of the responses gotten for each question asked.

In Question 1: “I notice the music playing in the background”, 31.1% of respondents strongly agree that they notice the music playing in the background, while 41.7% somewhat agree. Altogether 72.8% of all respondents agree that they notice the background music playing. 14.7% of respondents are undecided on whether they noticed the music playing before the questionnaire was distributed, while 12.4% disagree to noticing background music within the store.

In Question 2: “I like the music playing in the background”, 13.7% strongly agree that they like the music playing in the background, while 38.9% somewhat agree that they like the music playing in the background. Altogether 52.6% of all respondents claimed that they liked the sort of music playing inside Clarks as the questionnaire was being taken. 11.9% of respondents were undecided on whether or not they liked the background music, while 35.5% dislike the background music playing.

In Question 3: “The sort of music played affects my mood within the store”, 42.2% of all respondents strongly agreed to the statement, while 26.7% somewhat agreed. Altogether, 68.9% of all respondents agree that the sort of music played within the store affects their mood. Be it positively or negatively. 17.8% of respondents were indecisive, while 13.3% disagreed to the statement.

In Question 4: “Because of the music playing, I do not mind staying longer in the store”, only 10.9% strongly agree that they do not mind staying longer in the store. 35.7% somewhat agree, totally 46.6% of respondents that agree not to mind staying in stores longer if the music being played is favourable. 24.4% are undecided, while 26.7% somewhat disagree, and 2.2% strongly disagree.

Figure 5 below contains the remainder four questions for the general Likert scale questions regarding music preference and purchasing attitude. In Question 5: “I frequently lose track of time when suitable music is played in store”, only 25.6% of respondents agree to the statements. 23.3% are indecisive, and 30.2% of all respondents disagree. Altogether, 51.1% of respondents disagree to losing track of time when suitable music is played in store.

Figure 5: Likert scale response from Q5-Q8

In Question 6: “The sort of music played influences my choice of stores to patronize”, only 6.2% of respondents strongly agree to the statement. 11.4% somewhat agree, bringing the figure of respondents that agree to 17.6%. 13.7% are undecided, while 37.6% somewhat disagree, and 31.1% strongly disagree. Altogether 68.7% of all respondents disagree that the sort of music played influences their choice of stores.

In Question 7: “I would buy more shoes if the sort of music played suited my taste”, 2% of respondents strongly agreed, while 4.9% somewhat agreed. Together, only 6.9% of respondents agreed that their volume of purchase is affected by the music played. 29.5% are undecided, while 36% disagree, and 27.6% strongly disagree. Altogether 63.6% of all respondents disagree that music influences their purchase volume.

In Question 8: “The mood I am in affects my footwear purchasing behaviour”, 28% of respondents strongly agree, while 37.5% somewhat agree. Altogether 65.5% of respondents agree that their mood affects their purchasing behaviour. 20% are undecided, while only 14.5% of respondents disagree to the statement.

Figure 6: Music preference amongst respondents

Figure 6 above highlights the major footwear preference of all respondents. The genres with the highest preference amongst all respondents are Pop/Alternative (48.9%), R&B/Slows (42.2%), Hip Hop (22.2%), Rock (13%), and other genres not listed (18.6%). A higher portion of individuals had a more positive preference for Pop/Alternative music, R&B/Slows, Rock and Hip Hop. However, only Pop/Alternative and R&B had the lowest negative vote.

Ratings on Rock music illustrated that most respondents were stuck in the middle on their preference for the genre. 36.3% positively rate it as a preferred music choice, while 32.6% negatively rate it as a preferred music choice.

Ratings on Pop/Alternative music illustrated that most respondents rate it positively (62.2%) as a preferred form of music in their everyday life and during shopping activities. Respondents also rated R&B/Slows highly as a preferred genre with 68.8% positive votes, while Hip Hop got 48.9% positive votes.

Bivariate analyses on the distribution between age groups and their preference for music yielded different results. 40% of all 15 – 24 respondents had R&B/Slows as their preferred form of music, while 30% liked rock, 20% liked hip-hop and 10% preferred Pop/Alternative music.

25 – 34 year olds yielded differing results. A higher portion 31.3% still preferred R&B/Slows. 24.5% chose Pop/Alternative, Hip Hop (24.6%) and Rock (7.8%). None of the respondents under 34 chose traditional music of any sort as their preferred form of music.

Respondents aged 35 – 44 also chose R&B/Slows music as their most preferred form of music to be played in stores, as a higher percentage (41.3%) of respondents chose that alternative. 20% chose Pop/Alternative, 7.8% chose Rock music, Hip Hop (13.3%), while 6.4% had no preference whatsoever.

Respondents aged 45 – 54 chose Pop/Alternative as their most preferred genre of music, with 34.5% choosing this option. 20.3% chose traditional music, 13.3% like hip hop music, while 16.4% had no preference for music whatsoever. 19.5% of respondents aged 55+ had no preference for any genre of music, while 30.1% preferred R&B, and 25% had a preference for traditional music.


Table 1: Correlation between Music Preferences

RockPop/AltR&B/SlowsTraditionalHip-HopNo Pref.
No Pref.**.0031

Correlation studies between respondent music preferences highlighted a number of factors. Consumers that preferred Rock music were also more likely to prefer Hip Hop music and Pop/Alternative music. Those that preferred R&B music were also likely to prefer Pop/Alternative and Hip Hop music. Those that preferred Pop/Alternative music are also more likely to prefer Rock music, Hip Hop music and R&B music. However, those that preferred traditional music also correlated with those that had no preference whatsoever for music. Pop/Alternative music preference correlated strongly with R&B Slows and Hip Hop music. While traditional music preference correlated strongly with individuals with no music preference whatsoever.


The following are major points that have been added by a few respondents with reference to additional information sought regarding their music and purchasing behaviour preference. The questions were included as an additional option in the questionnaire, where only 10 respondents opted to include information.

Female (25 – 35): “I like music a lot, but I do not think that really affects how I choose to purchase items in store”

Female (15 – 25): “The sort of music played within stores should be good…., unless I would feel like the store isn’t meant for me”

Female (45 – 55): “How is music meant to affect the way I buy my shoes. Its good for the atmosphere to be conducive, but buying a shoe is based on a number of factors and not just the music in the background. I think it is not that important a factor.”

Female (45 – 55): “I like traditional music. When I walk into some stores, it makes me feel happy and I want to dance. That makes me feel good and happy and more lively. But it does not make me want to buy more shoes. No it does not.
Female (35 – 45): “Music is good, and it is good when appropriate music is playing, but that does not really make me want to buy more shoes.”

Female (25 – 35): “I think music is important. For instance when I walk into a store like Aldo, I feel good, because they play appropriate music and that makes me want to dance, move a bit, and through that I feel happier and am more receptive of the customer assistants. I may even chuckle and buy an accessory because I am feeling happy. I believe music should be appropriate”.

Female (25 – 35): “Hmm… music and shoe sales. I think if Clarks wants to attract younger customers, then maybe the sort of music played should be appropriate to fit with their needs. However, Clarks has been known as a store for grannies and older people. I even feel old being in this store, so it makes it hard to envision what they could do. But yes, I think appropriate music could be used to lure in younger people and make them feel at home. But I really do not feel that it could enable them buy more items in store. No I do not think so. Sorry.

Female (35 – 45): “I do not understand how music can affect my choice of store or the amount of shoes I buy. I really do not understand it”

Female (15 – 24): “Music and Retail. I do not think it has that much importance, like for instance, music and a bar or something. Most people choose to go to bars and clubs because of the sort of music playing.

Female (15 – 24): “I really do not come here (Clarks) that much because I feel it is a brand mostly for older people. But they sell comfortable shoes that is why I like it. If I were to choose a place where I like shopping, I’d choose Aldo, Kurt Geiger or Faith. They have a cooler feel and much better music. Music is not really the reason I go to these places, but it is one of the factors that makes me feel comfortable and at ease whenever I get there. I hope you understand.”



The present study was carried out to answer the following research question: To what extent does music impact the volume of consumer purchaseThe research question was based on customer observation within a retail store, Clarks. The company is seeking to attract a unique group of younger individuals that are more impulsive shoppers and could drive sales growth. The store’s idea was to introduce new fashionable designs and use that in attracting this segment of customers. However the company was unsuccessful in its feat as a vast majority of the customers that still patronized the store still fit into its ABC1 50+ customer segment.

Store atmospherics is one of several factors that are believed to attract desired customer segments into particular retail and relaxation locations. For instance, particular customers may choose to go to a traditional restaurant as opposed to a chain or franchise because of the store atmospherics like music played, restaurant design and the general culture they are trying to protrude (Morrison, 2006). This ideology was therefore transferred to the retail environment to ascertain whether store atmospherics just like the sort of music played in the background does have an effect on the perception of customers within the store and their purchasing behaviour.

The initial hypothesis postulated prior to review of existing literature was that if the customer liked the music playing within the store, they might feel more at home, and thereby stay more in the store, be more receptive to sales assistant, and also purchase more products. If this were the case, then Clarks should be able to attract more customers of the required market segment by slightly altering their cultural environment and seeing how this positively communicates to their target market segment.

The review of the literature portrayed a number of factors. There is a wide amount of literature regarding the effects of music on customer behaviour and perception. Music on its own is widely acclaimed as a mood changer, especially when a happy music that the customer seems to like is playing. It has a significant affect on consumer attitude that can drive the consumer’s decision. Several theorists have found that specially designed or selected music can positively affect a consumer’s perception of a store and its products, while several other theorists believe that the effect of music lies solely in its mood changing behaviour and its effect on purchasing behaviour is based on how the mood change would affect a consumers decision to purchase items.

The literature also postulates that background music can communicate particular meanings to customers. The loudness and tempo can positively affect performance. Large music can affect the speed of performances, while slow music can induce thoughtful intellectual processes. It can also positively affect patient communication, mood and compliance in a hospital environment and has been known to be particularly helpful in treating certain ailments. Music in addition to the right scent is known to induce favourable evaluations of the store, its merchandise and store environment. Intentions to visit certain stores could be affected by the sort of music playing in the background.

Judging by the literature review, it was confirmed that there is indeed potential to attract the required segment of customers by playing the appropriate music and having an enticing cultural environment. Therefore, a quantitative survey was proposed in order to ascertain customer preference and attitude regarding music within Clarks stores. The survey method was chosen, as it was more appropriate for ascertaining customer perception, especially within a fast paced retail environment. Questionnaires were handed over to 50 customers within the store, which they answered within a span of 5 – 10 minutes and returned back to the researcher. The results from the questionnaire were collated into SPSS and Excel and analysed appropriately.


The sampling method employed in this research was intended as a probability sample of Clarks’ total customers. However, due to the limitations of this research, it was performed in only one location, even though Clarks’ customers are scattered all around the world. It is therefore safe to assume that the demographics in figures 1 – 3 may only be a fair estimate of Clarks’ customers. Since the choice of respondents was unbiased; there may be a fair similarity between the demographics of this study and that of Clarks as a whole; however this can only be proved with further research.

The demographics of the sample were not necessarily an issue in this study as the main aim was to uncover the attitude and behaviour of the respondents and not the demographical characteristics. Therefore a non-probability sample was deemed equally effective (Saunders et al, 2008).

The age range of respondents, who patronise the store in London, may well be different from the age range of customers in other cities. However, irrespective of the region, the demographical findings still give an idea about the musical preference of customers that patronize Clarks.


Considering the research question: To what extent does music impact the volume of consumer purchaseIt is safe to assume that we could answer the question more appropriately by considering the following dimensions:

Customer demographics and music preference in comparison to that of Clarks

Customer perception on the effect of music on their purchasing behaviour.

i.Consumer Demographics VS Clarks

The age range of customer surveyed, as illustrated in Figure 1 show that a vast majority of customers (40.9%) visiting the Clarks store surveyed are of the age range 25 – 34. This survey is unbiased, therefore for the organization to explicitly state that they target 50+ individuals, and for individuals actually visiting the stores to be much younger than that, illustrating that there may be a gap between the company’s perception of their customer segment, and the customer’s expectations of service (Zeithaml, 1988). It may also indicate that there may be another reason that attracts younger customers into the store apart from the widely held assumption that the company sells its products to over 50s.

The musical preference of all visiting customers illustrated that the majority of them (27%) preferred Pop/Alternative, while 24% liked R&B/Slows and the other Hip Hop. Rating scale results from figure 6 illustrates that respondents felt more strongly about Pop/Alternative music, R&B/Slows and Hip Hop music. Correlation coefficients also illustrated that customers that preferred Pop/Alternative were also more likely to prefer R&B/Slows and Hip Hop music. These results indicate that most customers visiting the Clarks stores have these three genres as their preferred genres for music. According to Garlin and Owen (2006), customers are likely to respond well when these genres are played within the store.

However, Clarks only plays Pop/Alternative music, which in itself only satisfies 27% of customers visiting the store (Figure 2). On an average day with 1,000 visitors, the form of music playing will positively affect only 270. Since there is a strong positive correlation between consumer preferences for the three major genres of music, there is likelihood that if these forms of music were alternated, then the store would be able to satisfy customers that want Pop, R&B and Hip Hop, literally satisfying 69% of all customers within the store. Attaining this feat would, as indicated by Morin et al (2007), positively affect the mood of customers within the store. They are listening to music they like and comprehend with. They would be more likely to sing along, dance a bit, and hang around more within the store.

Combining both age and music preference, as illustrated in figure 7, respondents aged 15 – 24 are more likely to prefer R&B music, while those aged 25 – 34 have a considerable mutual preference between R&B, Pop/Alternative and Rock music. While customers aged 35 – 44 have a high preference for R&B music. Surprisingly, those aged 45+ have a higher preference for Pop/Alternative music that most other genres. It is therefore explanatory that Clarks decides to play a majority of Pop/Alternative music as most customers aged within their target segment, prefer this music, thereby confirming Hooley et al’s (2004) view that the main aim of customer segmentation is for the company to target their preferred customers with the appropriate tools.

Therefore Clarks plays Pop/Alternative music mostly because their target customers prefer it. However, this segmentation is flawed. According to the data in Figure 1, 40.9% of all respondents are aged 25 – 34, and since the questionnaires were offered mutually, without prejudice, to all customers entering the store. The questionnaires being distributed over a 4 hour period from 2 – 6pm, was done to account for any variations that may occur in intraday store customer demographics. Based on that notion, it is safe to assume that 4 out of 10 customers entering Clarks, a majority, are aged 25 – 34. The widely held assumption of demographic, which is 50+ only accounts for about 21.4% of all customers within the store.

Based on this argument, it seems that Clark’s target customers, in reality only account for 21.4% of all visitors to its stores. Though this segment of customers do appear to be loyal and properly accounted for, what happens to the 80% or so other customers that are much younger than the target segment. They prefer a different sort of music and cultural environment. They are motivated by different brands, objectives, and taste in art and music genres. The findings that Clarks cannot target a vast majority of its preferred customer segment with the most adequate cultural environment indicates that there is indeed a large gap between managerial perception and customer expectations (Zeithaml, 1988).

This gap, according to Hooley et al (2004) is a huge reason why several companies are unable to target desired market segments that could drive profitability. If Clarks appropriately catered for all significant segments, such as those below 50, they may not be having the same issues they are currently having with respect to attracting the required segment of people into its stores. In accordance to theories by McDonald (2008), more customers entering within the store would be more at ease and feel comfortable with the cultural environment, and be more likely to spend more time within the store without any cause for discomfort.

Analysing consumer age and music preference further, respondents aged 45 and below have a higher preference for R&B, and Hip Hop music compared to other genres. Since this positively correlates with preference for Pop/Alternative, and all been rating highly by respondents, we could safely assume that these three music genres should be made compulsory in Clarks, as opposed to the one just being used now. They could satisfy more customers by utilizing a variety of songs from different genres as most customers would naturally stay more than 10 minutes within the store, enough to hear at least 2/3 different sorts of music, one of which may just be capable of changing their mood in a positive light, according to theories postulated by Milliman (1986).

The income range and occupational environment of all respondents show that majority of them are average income earners and work within offices (whether formal or informal). Though not a major objective of this dissertation, the occupational environment and income range indicate the segment of customers that are most attracted to Clarks’ shoes. These are mostly 25 – 34 year old individuals that work within offices and earn average salaries. Their most preferred forms of music are Pop/Alternative, R&B and Hip Hop. As most Clarks shoes are known to be comfortable, it could be safe to assume that their major reasons for patronizing the store is based on the functionality of the products sold, and not necessarily based on its brand image and target demographic.

ii.Music and Purchasing Behaviour

By analysing Clarks intended and realised customer demographic, we have established that there is a major gap between the company’s defined target segment, and the customers that actually patronise the store, especially within the region that was surveyed. This realisation illustrates that the company may not be adequately positioning its products and branding to target the required market segment. It may also illustrate that the company’s customers are attracted the brand for reasons other than its store atmospherics.

The Likert scale questions were designed to ascertain what the respondents felt regarding the background music, and were meant to be the main factors either confirming or discrediting existing theories on the effect that music has on consumer behaviour. The generally positive responses to the first question on whether the respondent noticed the music playing in the background, indicate that music is indeed an integral part of store atmospherics and is recognized and noticed by all visiting parties. Most customers entering into the store notice the music playing and that opens up the opportunity for it to influence their consumer behaviour if possible.

The second question on whether the respondents either liked or disliked the music playing in the background also indicated that a majority of them did like the music playing. 38.9% of respondents agreed that they liked the music. However, an increasing portion (26.7%) disagreed to liking the background music. These respondents may belong to the age group of individuals that prefer another form of music, for instance R&B, Hip Hop, Rock or even Traditional, and may not be thoroughly receptive of the sort of music playing in the background. The realisation that a majority of store visitors do witness the music playing in the background, while a significant portion do not like it, may indicate some form of discomfort amongst some visitors to Clarks, as expatiated by Edworthy and Waring (2006). In this instance, these visitors may be less responsive to sales assistants and get bored more easily as they wait to be served within the stores.

If 35.5% of respondents disagree to liking the music playing within the stores, it would indicate that 35 out of 100 customers generally feel discomfort within the stores as a result of the music playing in the background. This figure would greatly reduce the chances of the store in selling more than usual during high sales period, and even during less busy periods, customers may slip out of short queues because of pre-existing moods, or probably because the store assistants have failed to convince them more appropriately about the products on offer. This large figure of respondents could have been avoided if more appropriate music was being played to all customers within the store.

This argument is compounded by responses to the third major question, which is on how the music played within the store affects customer mood. Theories by Gilroy and Ransdell (2001) and Kallinen (2002), had previously indicated that music that consumers recognise and like can positively affect consumer’s mood. This theory has been corroborated by these research findings, which indicate that 68.9% of all respondents claim that the sort of music being played in the background can affect their mood. Though it was not indicated whether it affects their mood positively or negatively, it could be concluded, based on Kallinen 92002), that music that respondents like have a more positive, than negative effect on customer mood, except in instances whereby the music played invokes a bad memory.

If the sort of music played affects consumer mood within the store, then it could be assumed theoretically that based on previous figures, the 52.6% of store customers that do like the music being played in the background at Clarks, have had a positive mood change as a result of the music playing. Because of the sort of music playing within the background, 46.6% of respondents would not mind staying longer in the stores, also illustrated in Figure 4. These findings are in accordance with theories expressed by Hallam et al (2002), who also stated that customers often lose track of time when appropriate music is being played in store backgrounds.

If customers frequently lose track of time whenever music is being played in the background, it gives store attendants more time to serve as many customers as possible, it also reduces the perception of time wasted amongst customers, who may feel more at ease with spending more time within the store. The 28.9% of respondents that disagree may be as a result of respondents who do not believe that music or store atmospherics is a proper determinant of the reason they stay within the stores. They may not consider its direct effect. For instance customers having a generally good mood may wish to stay longer within the stores. When asked whether it is as a result of the music, they may disagree. But the music may have been instrumental in giving them a good mood in the first place, as pointed out previously, which could then have an indirect effect on the customer, as indicated by Hallam et al (2002).

When ascertaining the more direct and explicit effects that music could have on consumer behaviour, the results did not indicate that many positive agreements. For instance respondents generally disagreed or were more undecided about questions pertaining to the effect of music on their choice of particular stores, or on their decisions to purchase footwear within the store. These questions were drafted as direct effects to ascertain the conscious belief of respondents regarding their awareness of the effect that music does have on their consumer behaviour. These questions were drafted based on theories developed by Klemz and Boshoff (2001). They argue extensively that the sort of music played within stores has a positive effect on purchases within stores. However, this argument is contradicted by Herrington and Capella (1996), who state that music has a more profound effect in entertainment stores and locations, where music forms a significant portion of the stores service offering, and not in retail locations.

For instance they claim that in a store selling musical instruments or records, the sort of music played could create awareness for particular instruments, artists, brands or genres, which could in turn influence customers to purchase them. While particular restaurants and bars, where visitors usually go to have a good time and dance would positively affect investor mood if they played appropriate music. However, in retail locations where music is not a major part of the service offering, it really does not matter what form of music is played as long as the products sought by customers are available. It seems these theories have been confirmed in our empirical findings in which, 68.7% of respondents disagree that the sort of music played influences their choice of stores, while 63.6% also claim that music does not affect their decision to patronise stores, neither does it affect their volume of purchase within stores.

These findings are representative of the fact that music has no direct influence on consumer behaviour within retail stores that do not sell anything affiliated to music. However, in terms of indirect effect, the final question from the Likert scale: “The mood I am in affects my footwear purchasing behaviour”, may open up channels for further discussion. Though the sort of mood is not expatiated in the questionnaire, the responses to the question, in which 65.5% of respondents agree, indicate that there may be a way to link music to consumer purchasing behaviour. Question 3 from the Likert scale in which most respondents agreed that their mood positively affects purchasing behaviour within the store, could be linked to Question 8, in which most respondents also agreed that their food affects footwear purchasing behaviour.

Therefore if the store played more appropriate music, it could affect the consumer’s mood in such a way that they are more likely to purchase more products within the store. Likable and recognisable music being played could make the consumer more jovial, and consumers that are more jovial, according to responses in question 8, are more likely to influence consumers towards purchasing more items within the store. These findings are indicative of Jacob et al’s (2009) theory which states that music may not have a direct effect on consumer behaviour, but indirectly, it influences them.

iii.Combining both Factors

Based on previous discussions, we can now safely deduce that Clarks is focusing its marketing strategies on the wrong customer segment. They are known to explicitly target 50+ individuals who make up only 21.4% of their visitors. However, the vast majority of their visitors are of a different segment. They are mostly younger than 50, work in offices and like different sorts of music. These results indicate that Clarks may not be appropriately focusing on its real customers, and therefore be losing out on potential customers in the process. The realisation also indicates that there is an existing gap between managerial perception and customer expectation.

The true segment of customers, which are mostly 25 – 34 like Hip Hop, R&B and Pop/Alternative music, while Clarks only, plays Pop/Alternative music. Based on the Likert scale responses, these customers come into the store and notice the music playing in the background, however only a few of them actually like the music. Since a majority of these respondents have claimed to have a mood change if appropriate music is playing, and stay longer in stores as a result. If this segment of customers could also lose track of time within stores and have a positive mood change, then it is highly possible that music could be a significant contributor to new efforts to target this customer segment.

If the store atmosphere was adapted in such a way that R&B and Hip Hop music was played in addition to the Pop/Alternative music already playing, and the store design was also adapted to suit them more appropriately, it is possible then that the store would be able to attract and keep more customers in store, even during sales season where customer service is low. In having this done, the store could improve turnover and visits from desired customer segments. This could also go a long way in changing the store’s current brand perception.


The demographics of customers surveyed in this dissertation are mostly of the age range 25 – 34. They work mostly in the office environment and have a preference for different forms of music. The Likert scale answers also indicate that customers notice and like the music playing in the background. They also indicate that the sort of music played affects their mood within the store and that they do not mind staying longer in the store while music is playing. However, the sort of music played does not influence customers’ choice of stores, or their purchasing behaviour within stores. Indirectly, music could affect consumer mood, which could in turn affect consumer-purchasing behaviour.


It is thereby recommended that Clarks do the following in order to ensure that they can attract and keep their pursued market segment:

Mix the store playlist with more popular Hip Hop and R&B music that could entice younger and more fashion focused customers into visiting Clarks more often.

Introduce certain marketing strategies aimed at curbing the existing brand image of Clarks that links it strongly to the 50+ market segment. If appropriate branding strategies were adopted, then consumers may begin seeing the company in a new light.

If feasible, an effort should be made to redesign existing stores in such a way that it attracts and retains younger customers within the store, long enough for them to find appropriate footwear and purchase them.

Music in itself cannot induce purchasing behaviour, however, a good mood can. Therefore efforts should be made to provide staff with adequate training in fields such as empathy. These could go a long way in providing customers with the level of service that would induce positive moods within customers.

b.Market Research

A nationwide survey using the same research methods employed in this study should be carried out. The sample should be a probability sample of not less than 1000 customers encompassing all major regions. This would enable the company to get a thorough overview of what their customers want across regions. It would also assist in verifying the findings of this data.

In-depth focus group sessions could be carried out post-research in order to verify the findings of the research. This could also enable the research department to find out the underlying factors that motivates the customers to have different preferences irrespective or their age groups.

This study should be repeated in different seasons in order to ascertain the difference in consumer preference. Leisure activities may influence their choice of footwear in summer, while the weather could be a better determinant of behaviour in the winter. Walking may constitute a major leisure activity in summer, and this may be different in winter.


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Table 1: Consumer responses to Likert Scale questions

Strongly Disagree4.
Somewhat Disagree8.026.711.126.730.237.636.012.5
Somewhat Agree41.738.926.735.
Strongly Agree31.113.742.210.918.

Table 2: Consumer responses to their Music preferences

RockPop/AltR&B/SlowsHip HopOthers
Not at all15.

Table 3: Bivariate analysis of Respondent Age and Music Preference.

RockPop/AltR&B/SlowTraditionalHipHopNo Pref

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