How music affects consumers choices in restaurants
Most restaurateurs give little thought to the background music they play. In the buzz of running a busy eatery, what pop tunes to put on might be the last thing on your mind. It shouldn’t be, though, because music plays a massive role in how much people enjoy their meals. It may surprise you to learn that when you put on a certain track, it could mean the difference between an excellent review and a poor rating. So, why is that? Well, it is all to do with the psychology of music. Songs, tunes and lyrics enter our brain when we hear music. These factors have more of an effect on your mind than you know. In fact, they can change the way you perceive almost everything around you.
Why should you play music in your restaurant?
First, let’s address the issue of why people choose to play music in their restaurants. It is worth noting that when people buy a meal at an eatery, they are paying as much for the experience of dining as they are for the food you serve. That is to say that they want to sit in a place with a strong sense of atmosphere, rather than a quiet, sterile room. Silence is not an apt background for a dining situation. In fact, this can make the atmosphere uncomfortable, causing customers to leave. Instead, you need to find a balance of sound that will entice people to stay.
Background noise suppresses saltiness
We have all been to restaurants where there is a whole lot going on. For example, there might be waiting staff shouting at one another, pans clattering and babies crying. Frankly, it is enough to give you a headache before you even sit down. Well, did you know that this can also make the food taste bad? You might think that this concept is ludicrous, but it is not. According to a 2011 study called ‘Effect of background noise on food perception‘, loud noises affect how you taste. The research suggests that when there is loud background noise, people struggle to taste sugar and salt. That means that people enjoy their food far less when they can hear loads of commotion going on. It is thus important that whatever music you choose, you don’t have it on too loud, or you could hinder your diners’ taste.
High-frequency sounds make food sweet
If you tend to choose high frequency songs, you might find that diners are more susceptible to sweetness than they are to salt. There have been loads of experiments that deal with this rather weird reaction to sound. In fact, many studies suggest that there is a genuine link between what we hear and what we taste.
Low-frequency sounds make food salty
In the same respect, research suggests that low-frequency sounds make food taste saltier than it is. That is to say that if you play some booming bass in the background of your restaurant, it is a bad idea. You might encourage people to have a heightened awareness when it comes to salt. That could lead to them think the chefs have over-seasoned dishes when in reality they are just right. If it is true that these two frequencies change the way in which we taste, it is crucial that you avoid tunes that fall into either category.
You should never distract diners from their meal
Again, when diners come out to eat, they expect an experience. Much of the time, people dine as a social activity, which means that they take the opportunity to chat with others. If you have loud music on, you could distract your customers. That may mean that they leave faster than they usually would. At the same time, the music will distract people from their meals, which is the last thing you want. You should keep the volume at a low level, below that of natural speech, if you want to make sure that this is not an issue.
The perfect restaurant tune
So, what is the perfect restaurant music? Well, that is a difficult question to answer, but we will try. According to the vast amounts of research in the area, the best tunes are those without lyrics, that are soft and melodic. The music you choose must never serve as a distraction. Instead, it should be background music, rather than something that calls anyone’s attention. Instrumental music is best, as it does not attract too much attention. Lyrics tend to trickle into people’s subconscious causing them to ‘zone out’ at the table. If you want people to make the most of their food, you out to choose a tune that is pretty, yet never overbearing.