The relationship of liked music with music emotion dimensions, shopping experience, and return patronage intentions in retail and service settings.

Author:Vaccaro, Valerie L.
 
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  1. INTRODUCTION

    Today, as during the past four decades, there is continued interest on how to generate effective in-store "atmospherics" as a strategic tool to help create a competitive advantage. 'Atmospherics' has been defined as "the effort to design buying environments to produce specific emotional effects in the buyer that enhance his purchase probability.... The main sensory channels for atmosphere are sight, sound, scent and touch" (Kotler, 1973-1974, pp. 50-51). Kotler (1973-74) proposed that a retailer's atmosphere could help gain attention from the competition, develop a message compatible with a specific target market, and generate 'visceral' reactions which lead to consumer purchasing behavior.

    In Turley and Milliman's (2000) review of atmospherics research, they identified music as the most frequently studied atmospheric variable, compared to lighting, scents, color, temperature, and decor. Music is considered an important marketing tool that may leave a lasting impression on the consumer, and is a relatively easy store characteristic to manipulate (Chain Store Age, 2000). An industry survey on retail customers and in-store music by the Gallup research organization showed that: 91% felt music affected their behavior while shopping, 86% believed that music enhanced a store's atmosphere, 33% thought that music influenced their purchase decisions, and 70% of the store managers believed music made customers more relaxed and increased time spent in-store (Rubel, 1996).

    A growing number of retailers have been "investing in customized music programs designed to build customer loyalty and reinforce their store's brand image" (Chandler, 1998, p. D1). Research by Morrison and Beverland (2003) found support for music as part of successful store branding--citing retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Olive Garden, Prada, Versace, and Bath & Body Works. Digital Music Express, a retail music programming firm with clients such as Nine West, Coach, and Burlington Coat Factory, "works with the customer, determining the image of the business ... to customize unique programming ... and narrows the (music) choices to a few compatible programs to give the desired atmosphere ... the wrong music can drive them (customers) out of the store" (Rubel, 1996, p.1).

    1.1 Contributions of Study

    The main purpose of our current study is to test the effect of liked music in retail and service settings on consumers' return patronage intentions. Our study also examines the relationship of liked music with two measures of prior shopping experience. Liked music has been found to be associated with musical preference. Our study addresses Herrington and Capella's (1994) suggestion for future research to study the relative contribution of musical preference toward determining retail behavior. Our study also addresses Herrington and Cappella's recommendation (1994, p. 62) "to determine the relationship between background music and shoppers' tendency to return to the retail establishment."

    There are also few studies that have focused on the emotion dimensions of the music and how these dimensions are related to liked music (e.g. Brokemier et al. 2008). Garlin and Owen (2006) suggested that "researchers interested in the influence of the music stimulus itself (should) explore the individual qualities of music using a set of non-evaluative attributes rather than genres" (p.762). The current study addresses this recommendation by selecting a unique combination of variables not found together in any previous research that reflect consumer perceptions of a wide variety of music. Thus, our study examines this question by exploring the relationship of three emotion dimensions of music--happy, sad, and irritating to gain a better understanding of the meaning of liked music in various genres to consumers in retail and service environments.

    Our research also addresses the following suggestion from a meta-analysis by Garlin and Owen (2006) of over 150 studies on atmospheric music in retail settings. Garlin and Owen (2006) recommended that future research should include "field studies outside the laboratory (which) could increase our understanding of the background music phenomena" (p. 762). Also, most studies on music atmospherics have focused on only one type of retailer such as restaurants (e.g. Milliman, 1986); a wine store (e.g. Areni and Kim, 1993), women's clothing stores (e.g. Brokemier et al., 2008; Caldwell and Hibbert, 2002), or supermarkets (e.g. Smith and Curnow, 1966; Milliman, 1982; Vida et al., 2007). Our research is a field study on atmospheric (e.g. also known as background or environmental) music which also includes numerous types of retailers and service providers, in an attempt to provide more generalizable findings.

  2. LITERATURE REVIEW

    2.1 Environmental Psychology & Retailing/Service Research

    In environmental psychology, Mehrabian and Russell (1974) proposed a simple, three stage Stimulus-Organism-Response (S-O-R) model of an environment-person interaction: 1) Stimuli in the environment appeal to one's senses such as visual cues (e.g. design of landscapes, buildings, furniture, color, lighting, other people), sounds (e.g. music, noise, etc.), smells/scents (e.g. fragrance, cooking odors), or other stimuli that appeal to a person's sense of touch or taste, 2) the Organism's (person's) emotional states of pleasure, arousal and dominance ("PAD" dimensions), and 3) Responses an individual has to approach (e.g. move towards, explore) or avoid (e.g. move away from) an environment). The "PAD" emotional dimensions were originally measured using a semantic-differential scale. Pleasure-displeasure represents the emotional state a person has when they feel "good, joyful, happy, or satisfied in the situation; arousal-nonarousal ... (is) the degree to which a person feels excited, stimulated, alert of active in the situation; and dominance-submissiveness refers to the extent to which the individual feels in control of, or free to act in, the situation (Donovan and Rossiter, 1982, p. 38).

    Donovan and Rossiter (1982) conducted the first marketing study which tested the Mehrabian-Russell model (1974) in various retail environments. Based upon the study's results, Donovan and Rossiter suggested that consumer arousal would stimulate additional time, effort and money spent, only if the store is considered to be a pleasant environment. Other atmospheric research related to Mehrabian & Russell's (1974) model include studies by Baker et al. (1992); Bitner (1992); Chebat et al. (1993); Harris and Ezeh (2008); Sweeney et al. (2002); Sherman and Smith (1987); Vaccaro (2001), Vaccaro et al. (2008), and Vaccaro et al. (2009). For example, Baker et al., (1992) found that atmospheric music and lighting interacted with social cues (number and friendliness of employees) and influenced consumers' pleasure; also, social cues affected arousal, and then both pleasure and arousal positively influenced consumer purchase intentions.

    2.2 Research on Music & Atmospherics

    There have been a number of comprehensive reviews and integrative frameworks related to atmospherics and consumer behavior in a service environment. Service environments include businesses such as retail stores, restaurants, hotels, banks, and hospitals. In the discussion on the comprehensive "Servicescapes" Model, Bitner (1992) proposed that if the elements in a service environment generate feelings of pleasure in consumers, that it will produce more approach behaviors. One factor which Bitner suggested may contribute to pleasure could be the compatibility of the atmospheric elements in the service environment. In addition, Bitner proposed that "perceptions of the servicescape and associated positive (negative) emotions can lead to positive (negative) feelings associated with the organization, its people and its products" (1992, p. 64). Previously, Gardner (1985) had developed a conceptual model of mood states and consumer behavior, and suggested that positively valenced (i.e. pleasant, happy) music should lead to positive moods, which in turn should generate positive evaluations and behaviors. Gardner's conceptual model, Bitner's (1992) Servicescapes model, and Mehrabian & Russell's (1974) environmental psychology model (1974) are all variations of the S-O-R model.

    In an extensive review of music and consumers, Kellaris (2008, p. 838) identified the following research issue: "the term music has been used broadly in consumer research to apply to background and foreground music, instrumental and vocal music, brashly commercial and sublimely artistic music ... in diverse styles including commercial pop, classical masterpieces, jazz, and non-Western music. Additionally, music is frequently characterized in terms of subjective properties that are not constituent properties of music at all, but rather reactions resident within listeners (e.g., "pleasant music"). Bruner's (1990) historic review of music, mood, and marketing indicated that music compositions have the following properties: 1) physical characteristics (e.g., volume, pitch, tempo, rhythm, harmony, mode), 2) emotional expressions which can produce "corresponding affective reactions in listeners" (p. 100), 3) music familiarity, and 4) music preference. Further, Oakes (2000) developed a "Musicscape" conceptual model on atmospheric music's influence in service environments which included independent variables of music composition characteristics and genre, valence moderators including music familiarity and consumer demographics, internal consumer responses (e.g. cognitive, emotional), and behavioral approach responses.

    In Garlin and Owen's (2006) meta-analysis of 150 research studies on background music in retail...

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