The Effect of Background Music on Shopping Behavior:
A Closer Look at Internet Shopping
Jess Bliga

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The Effects of Background Music on Shopping Behavior

   Many marketing practitioners have accepted the notion that music affects human beings in various ways.Music is increasingly used as a stimulus in the retail environment as well as in radio and television advertising to evoke responses advertisers want to see. This paper reviews literature concerning the effects that various types of background music have on individuals while shopping online. Past research has shown individuals to react differently while listening to background music in a store settings.  It was hypothesized that background music does effect several areas of individual shopping behavior on the internet also.

(note: all important numbers are blue)

This experiment was designed to determine whether background music effected online shopping behaviors.  It was hypothesized that background music would lead to and increase in product likability, increase in the number of items purchased,  increase in the amount amount of money spent and an increase in the amount of time shopping online.
 Independent sample t-tests were used to calculate the results of this study.  The hypothesis of background music affecting product likability was not supported T(18)=1.23,p=.233.

Although, the product likability hypothesis was not supported, the results do show background music to have some effect on other aspects of shopping behavior.

However, the hypothesis that background music would lead to an increase in the number of items purchased was supported. On average, participants who were exposed to background music did purchase more items (M=5.50) than those who were not exposed to background music (M=3.60).

The difference of only an average of 2 items, substantiated over a number of customers, is significant T(18)=3.14,p=.006.
As shown in figure 3, on average participants who were exposed to background music while shopping online, spent more time online (M=13.50 minutes) than those without background music (M=7.50 minutes).  These participants were given the option to stop shopping at any time during the experiment and still, the experimental group with the background music stayed online for a longer period of time.

However, the hypothesis that background music would lead to an increase in the amount of money spent was not supported T(18)=.589,p=.563. The background music did not seem to have an effect on the amount of money spent, but only the amount of products purchased.

When examining the average amount per item spent per group, significance was not found.  The experimental group spent an average of $81.75 per item and the control group averages $80.67.  These dollar amounts are too close to be significant.
Although not every finding supported the hypothesis that background music affects shopping behavior, two aspects of shopping behavior were found to be significantly different. Both amount of time spent shopping online and number of items purchased were affected by the music. However, this research shows that money and product likability do not seem to be affected by background music.


The main findings were as follows: as hypothesized, background music did not have an effect on how much individuals liked the products they purchased.  However, background music did lead to an in an increase in the amount of products purchased along with an increase in the amount of time spent online.  Although more items were purchased while background music was playing, a less amount of money was spent while listening to background music.  These findings indicate background music does affect different aspects of online shopping behavior.

Although some significance was found with the data, there were also several limitations to this study.  The mixed results may have been the cause of the participants not actually purchasing the products but rather just placing the items in the shopping cart.  If the purchase intentions were real, the participants may have been more conscientious of what they were buying and how music money they were spending. There may have been many underlying reasons why participants purchased more items with background music than those without music.  Impulse shopping behavior may have played a role in this study.  The findings indicate that increased time spent online resulted in an increase in the number of items purchased.  This may be a result of participants jumping at the first item they see and buying it.  How much the participant liked the background music should have been assessed to see if music preference played a role in the purchasing of the items. Also, computer literacy among participants was not measured and may have played a role in how quickly individuals shopped online.
Also, past experience with shopping online may have caused some participants to move around online quicker than others.
Maturation may have also played a role in the shopping behavior.  Individuals who caught on faster by the end of the experiment probably were able to purchase more items than those who never understood the directions on how to shop online.  Likability for computers and the Internet may have been a confound variable in this study.  Participants who prefer to use computer programs may have felt more comfortable and at ease in front of the computer than those who do not feel comfortable with computers.
To avoid some of these confounding variables, future experimenters may want to access the participantís computer literacy and whether or not they feel comfortable shopping online, along with other demographic variables of the participants.
Although only some significance was found in this study, this data does expand our knowledge of background music and online shopping behavior.  This study helps us to understand why some shopping online networks get more business.  If online shopping networks included background music on their shopping homepages, increases in time spent online and amount of produce purchased could be hypothesized for these big online shopping networks.