Music volume influences food choices

Wednesday, 30 May, 2018

Music volume influences food choices

Everything about a restaurant’s ambience can impact food sales, from lighting to decor, and now even music volume. Research has found that even consumers with the best intentions of ordering a healthy meal may be swayed to order a greasy pizza at a restaurant that plays louder music.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences found that the volume of ambient music influences whether a consumer chooses healthy or unhealthy foods because it impacts heart rate and arousal. Faster beats encourage feelings of excitement resulting in cravings for unhealthy foods like burgers, while slower ones help people relax meaning they’re more likely to order a salad.

Dipayan Biswas, PhD, Marketing Professor at the University of South Florida Muma College of Business, and his team separated menu items at a cafe in Stockholm, Sweden, into healthy, non-healthy and neutral categories (like coffee and tea). Over a number of days, they analysed consumer buying habits while the cafe played different genres of music at 55 and 70 decibels (Db). This revealed that 20% more people ordered something unhealthy when exposed to louder music than those who dined during the quieter time.

While 55 Db music was playing, 32% of the food sold was healthy while 42% was unhealthy. The preference for unhealthy food increased during the 70 Db music, in which only 25% of food sold was healthy compared to 52% that was unhealthy.

Biswas explained: “Restaurants and supermarkets can use ambient music strategically to influence consumer buying behaviour.”

So next time you’re buying food, take note of the music.

Image credit: © kerdokas

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