From slow jazz to trendy pop, music plays a central role in creating a restaurant that customers want to return to and recommend to others. Just as the decor and level of service impact a customer’s decision to order dessert or ask for an early bill, sound has the power to evoke the right ambiance and ultimately increase profits.
Customers enjoy their food and beverages more with music playing, making them stay longer and spend more, according to a research study by The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) and LEGER, The Research Group. The study, which highlighted a number of significant findings, reveals that 84 per cent of Canadians feel that music helps create a positive experience.
“Music has a strong influence on the customer experience and, when it’s used well, music can positively impact a restaurant’s bottom line. The best thing for your business is to find the music that reflects your brand and ultimately use it as part of your overall marketing strategy. By being Licensed To Play with SOCAN, restaurant owners can use any music they want to achieve the right ambience that will keep their customers coming back for more,” says Leslie Craig, vice-president of licensing at SOCAN.
Choosing the right music is a crucial part of a restaurant’s success, and affects customers’ emotions and their perception of the food, which indirectly impacts the bottom line. Here are four ways restaurateurs can use music to modify their guest experience and increase sales.
Music figures prominently in creating the proper restaurant atmosphere. The majority of Canadians—70 per cent—say hearing music makes them stay longer in a restaurant. Music creates comfort and intimacy, just as much as it can excite or lend a trendy vibe, and more than two-thirds of customers say the atmosphere it creates impacts their decision to return.
Ambiance is created when thinking about elements, such as music type and volume. While almost half of Canadians prefer a mix of everything, owners might first want to understand what music will fit their brand and make sure they have the right SOCAN license to play that music.
They should also pay attention to the interplay between sound and décor. Evolving trends in restaurant design lean towards open kitchens and no tablecloths or cloth chair backings. With less fabric to absorb music, the volume increases as sound reflects off different surfaces. Louder music often attracts younger generations, compared to those in the 65 plus demographic.
When thinking about the value music brings to the atmosphere, employing live musicians are another way to attract more customers and create a festive ambiance. Half of Canadians revealed that live music makes them likely to eat and drink more and invite their friends to join them. Meanwhile, research commissioned by PRS for Music, SOCAN’s U.K. equivalent, also found that venues playing music see a major increase in sales compared to restaurants that don’t play music. On a typical Friday or Saturday night, for example, U.K. venues reported a 50 per cent jump in profits with tunes playing.
Either way, when restaurants stop playing music it could lead to empty tables. In Canada, 28 per cent of people, most in the millennial cohort, feel awkward in the absence of music and probably wouldn’t return.
Managing Customer Turnaround
Maximizing table turnover can be a tricky feat. If a diner lingers over a glass of wine long after the bill is paid, it could impede the reservation flow and cause a walk-in to eat elsewhere. Depending on the intended atmosphere, louder, up-tempo songs encourage patrons to eat quicker, ideal during a pre-theatre rush or bustling lunch. This means they might not order an extra drink, whereas slower, softer music, often found in fine dining establishments, increases customers spending because it suggests they sit back and relax. Since 63 per cent of Canadians say they stay longer when music they like is being played, the type of songs should also be considered. Whatever the chosen music may be, over one third of Canadians said that if they knew a restaurant was paying its legal and fair license for music, it would influence their decision to return.
Canada’s population is morphing into a mosaic of various ethnicities and customers’ palettes are growing more diverse. More people are on the hunt for a genuine experience, in a restaurant that offers unique flavours, and music can help make these flavours appear more authentic. In fact, restaurants that play music matching their menu seem more authentic to 76 per cent of Canadians. For instance, playing Italian music is likely to enhance how Italian the food and overall atmosphere seems. Also, consider the personality of a restaurant, its energy level and decor. Customers entering a dimly lit wine bar may not be expecting blaring heavy metal, just as an indie-style cafe in a fringe neighbourhood might want to add a playlist stocked with talented up-and-comers to match its unique brand.
Researchers have found that musical pitch can enhance the intensity of different tastes, making food taste better. Ultimately, this impacts what customers think and how they might rate meals on social media. A multi-sensory food perception study from University of Oxford revealed that higher notes—flutes and tinkling pianos—enhance the sweetness of food, while deeper, more resonant tones emphasize bitterness. Fast-tempo, distorted music, from energetic samba to a violin concerto, boosts the spiciness of food. Volume also plays a role. Another study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference found that sweet and salty tastes were less intense in the presence of louder music. So, when looking to enhance the flavours in the plat du jour, the best thing for your business is to first think about what music reflects your brand and want you wish to convey.
Increasing customer satisfaction with music is one way restaurants can boost their earnings. Music brings value to Canadian restaurants and is a key component of the overall dining experience. In turn, becoming Licensed To Play by SOCAN makes a restaurant legally compliant and compensates music creators for their work and extraordinary talent, which is also good for business.
More than half of businesses Licensed to Play music with SOCAN agree that the music they play keeps customers coming back and impacts the length of their stay.
For more information, please visit SOCAN’s website.