The Influence of Music for Restaurant Customers


After numerous studies into the effects of Background Music on consumers, it goes without doubt that it can make an impact on influencing sales. Research shows that when making purchase decisions, the consumer responds to more than just the concrete product or service being offered. This supports the idea that the atmosphere within a store or restaurant impacts the purchases made. Several factors including lighting and temperature contribute to the atmosphere in a consumer environment, with music being a core element. There are many components of music which can influence purchases and behaviour including the volume, tempo and genre. Similarly to the influence of background music on shopping behaviour, there is no one size fits all model. It is important to analyse the type of restaurant and tailor the music to fit your customers and their consumer patterns.

Effects of Music on Restaurant Customers

To increase the knowledge on the effects of background music for restaurants, research was conducted on a medium-sized restaurant in Dallas, Texas. Based upon observations, it was noted that the restaurant was above average priced, of high quality and appealed to a demographic of mostly middle aged people in the upper-middle income bracket. The study took place over a course of 8 weeks and tested different activities taking place in the restaurant, and effects which different types/tempos/volumes of music had upon them. The results showed as follows:

Timing of Service Influenced by Music

Under slow-tempo background music treatment, it took an average of 29 minutes for customers to be served once they had been seated. This compared to a 27 minute wait under the fast-tempo background music, resulting in a 2 minute difference, which is arguably insignificant.

Customer Time Spent at Table Influenced by Music

Once the customers had been served their food, there was a significant difference in the time spent at the table between those experiencing slow-tempo music and fast-tempo music. Those who had the slow-tempo background music spent 56 minutes at the table, compared to a noteworthy 45 minutes for those with fast-tempo background music. Due to the slower turnover of customers, we can expect to find a longer waiting time for a table when the slow-tempo music is played, which would expectedly lead to more customers leaving the restaurant without being seated and therefore less expenditure.

Average Waiting Time Influenced by Music

Over the course of time which the slow-tempo background music was played in the restaurant, there was an average wait of 47 minutes per group of people before being seated, in comparison to a marginally lower 34 minute wait under the fast-tempo music.

Influence of Music on Customers Who Left Before Being Seated

854 groups of people entered the restaurant during the course of the slow-tempo music being played, with 764 of these groups staying and 90 leaving before being seated. While in the duration of the fast-tempo music, 714 customer groups entered the restaurant with 628 of them staying and 86 leaving before being seated. This results in no significant difference on the proportion of customers who left before seated during the different tempo’s of Background Music being played.

Influence of Music on Amount of Food Purchased

When the slow-tempo music was played, an average of $55.81 was spent on food, in contrast to an average of $55.12 during the fast-tempo music.

Influence of Music on Amount of Bar Purchases

Although there was no big difference on the amount spent on food during the comparison of background music, there was a large increase on bar purchases. The research showed that during the slow background music treatment $30.47 was spent, compared to $21.62 during the fast paced music. The slow-tempo encouraged customers to drink an average of 3.04 drinks more per customer group.

Estimated Gross Margin

To reach a conclusion, gross sales from both food and drink were recorded for each tempo. From the data, the gross estimated sales were calculated and showed a significant difference between the two types of background music.
Slow music treatment- $55.82
Fast music treatment- $48.62

Although these studies show that slow-tempo music is more effective for increased sales, as previously mentioned it is important to tailor the music you use to the theme of your restaurant. It is beneficial to keep an overall goal in mind. Are you looking to increase overall food sales, or sales at the bar? Background music for restaurants should reflect your brand and decor, as well as your goals.

The Influence of Background Music on the Behavior of Restaurant Patrons:

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