In an earlier blog, Chris looked at how the right music in a retail environment can result in increased sales, or increased sales of targeted products, while the wrong music can actually decrease sales and damage a business. Having found the right music, another question is whether the loudness of the music can influence sales, especially in restaurant or bar environments.

In a recent study, researchers at two French Universities1 tested patrons’ responses to music loudness in two popular bars. Without the patrons’ knowledge, the researchers observed the amounts and rates of patrons’ consumption of alcoholic drinks on different nights. Each night, the music was identical, but the researchers played the music at either 72 or 88 decibels. The researchers found that patrons in the louder music environment spent significantly less time to drink their glass. While the researchers did not check overall sales in each environment each night, it is probably safe to assume that the quicker patrons drink, the more drinks they will buy.

The researchers put forward several explanations for this unconscious effect that music loudness has on our drinking habits: loud music arouses us, and generally makes us move quicker; loud music affects our internal sense of time; and loud music impedes talking and social interaction, and gives us more opportunities to drink.

In order to combat the health and social problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption, the researchers urge bar-owners to use this information for good rather than evil – namely to play music at a moderate volume and take the opportunity to engage in consumer education by “making [their patrons] aware that loud music influences their alcohol consumption with the help of TV advertisements, radio advertisements or poster advertising”. Somehow, I think that bar-owners will thank the researchers for this information, skip the advertisements, and just pump up the volume!