Shopping Sounds

Reporter: Cassie Silver

They're the sounds we hear at the shops every day and think nothing of...but what we don't realise is it's our ears doing the shopping for us. Music is making our decisions.

But can music make us feel a certain way about a product? Professor Adrian North from Curtin University has found a new link between the two.

"We know if you play fast music in a supermarket, people will shop more quickly, they'll go from point a to point b more quickly, whereas if you play slow music, they'll go more slowly but because of that people browse more and some research finds they spend about 33 per cent more" Adrian says.

Together with student Amanda Krause the pair conducted an experiment on campus with a simple orange juice stand

"What we wanted to know was whether it can influence perceptions of the quality of the product in question" he says.

A free glass of juice was music to students ears and then they were then asked to fill out a questionnaire, where it's from, how fresh it is... and how much you'd be willing to pay

With Aussie band "Men at work" playing.....tasters predicted the oranges were... from the land down under

"It tasted like it was local, Australian grown" said one participant.

When the sounds shifted to Chinese folk music or the Beach Boys from USA, so did their tastebuds

" What we found was if you play music from different countries then people are more likely to think that the orange came from that country" Adrian says.

As for the quality of the juice.... urban and industrial sounds didn't leave the sweetest taste in their mouth

"A little thick maybe, but standard orange juice. I'd go with standard" commented another participant.

"Immediately what our research would suggest is you need to move that fresh produce inside cause the sound of those cars and lorries rumbling past makes people think that your fruit is more likely to be out of date" Adrian states

When switching the sounds to natural streams and flowing water, there was a big shift

"It tasted really fresh and nice and sweet" says one participant.

"Fresh, sweet tasting. Yeah it was really good" said another.

Adrian goes on to say "we found that across the board, the nature soundtrack was better. It lead to perceptions of the taste of the orange juice being fresher, sweeter"

People were also willing to pay more money depending on the tune

"Two soundtracks, a nice nature soundtrack - a babbling stream - we also had a street noise soundtrack, with cars, horns, honking" Adrian says, "when people heard the natural soundtrack playing in the background, they were prepared to spend over four dollars a litre on orange juice in the supermarket, whereas when we had traffic noise then people were only prepared to pay about two dollars a litre for that same orange juice

Music is everywhere and Adrian says some stores have it all wrong

"The run up to Christmas where you'll start hearing all these jolly lively Christmas songs whilst of course you're running around the shop in an absolute panic trying to find something to buy - there what you really need is something that's going to calm you down and make the shop feel less crowded"

So next time you go shopping you'll be sure to keep your eyes and your ears open

"If a business really gets the music right and plays something customers are really in favour of, then people won't play a blind bit of attention whereas if they play music that customers don't like, that's when people start to do something about it and start complaining" Adrian says.

Curtin University is conducting another experiment and requires volunteers, for more details visit,

www.researchaboutlistening.com