Christmas music makes customers spend more
Endless loops of songs like 'All I Want For Christmas' in shops during the festive season make us more careless with our money, experts have warned.
While repeated renditions of 'Jingle Bells' may seem like an innocent attempt to raise the customers' spirits during Christmas shopping, the songs also have a more subtle impact.
According to experts, background music, or "Muzak", can be used by marketers to impose cultures like the commercialisation of Christmas onto consumers and influence their behaviour.
"Festive jingles are force-fed to Christmas shoppers in a bid to change their mood, influence their sense of time and what sort of products they buy. In other words, this is an attempt to manipulate your shopping habits in a way that you might barely be aware of," the Telegraph quoted Dr Alan Bradshaw of Royal Holloway, University of London, as saying.
"Often we are told that we have the freedom to choose where we want to shop, but during Christmas the use of music in this way is so ubiquitous that our freedom to choose disappears," he said.
Dr Bradshaw and Prof Morris B Holbrook of Columbia University examined the phenomenon and found that retailers often "dumb down" the music played in shops to relax customers, meaning it is easier to control their behaviour.
It is thought, for example, that slowing down the tempo of music in shops can trick customers into thinking that less time has passed and therefore spend more time perusing the shelves.
Some providers of background music have been known to promote their services by claiming that they can boost profits by controlling the behaviour of customers.
According to Dr Bradshaw, a common trick is to take a popular current song and record an instrumental version which can be slowed down or sped up at different times of the day to influence behaviour in different ways.
"I think you can see a real intention on the part of shop managers to use Christmas music to influence their customers," he said. he added.
"Not only is this bad for musicians and the dignity of their work, representing a triumph of commercial greed over artistic creativity, but it can have negative social implications such as promoting a culture of non-listening," he added.