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Christmas Background Music, The Champion of Year-End Sales


Jingle Bells Makes Cash Registers Ring

That festive Christmas Background Music you play in your store or on your phone hold system is a smart move for customer goodwill. But did you know that holiday music has a direct impact on your bottom line, too? The right balance of holiday music and greetings can create a mood for spending, according to many experienced retail experts.

How Christmas Background Music Affects The Brain

There’s a growing interest in how music can cause changes in our brain. Doctor Patrick Alban and author Deane Alban remind us that listening to music stimulates the formation of certain brain chemicals and releases the brain’s “motivation molecule”, dopamine. For a business, this fascinating connection between the brain and mood can be significant. Researchers have revealed that music gives the neuropeptide oxytocin a boost, which is known to play an important role in increasing bonding and trust between people. Could that be another reason background music is so helpful in professional settings?

Oxytocin is a neuropeptide affiliated with breast-feeding and sexual contact, and is known to play an important role in increasing bonding and trust between people. Now researchers are discovering that music may affect oxytocin levels in the body.

Jill Suttie, Mind & Body Magazine

When Memories Come Flooding Back, We Turn To Mush

In a fascinating 2019 Washington Post article, neuroscience lecturer Brian Rabinovitz (College of Willaim & Mary) reiterates, “all music can stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers, but holiday music can evoke treasured memories on top of that.”

No matter what type of music you listen to throughout the year, “you may involuntarily turn to mush when you hear ‘White Christmas’ because your brain associates that song with baking cookies in grandma’s kitchen when you were 6,” summarize article authors Bonnie Berkowitz, Chris Alcantara and Shelly Tan.

Does Christmas Background Music Make Shoppers Spend More?

Most research on the subject of background music points to the conclusion that music does increase consumer spending by improving mood and attitude. There’s a reason you hear music everywhere you shop! But just any sort of music won’t do.

Dr. Eric Spangenberg, the lead author of a 2003 Washington State University study, reports that certain types of Christmas music work better to get customers to spend. He concluded that faster-tempo music moves customers through a shopping experience faster than slower, more peaceful music. He also warns of over-exposure. At some point, those repetitive tunes lose their appeal.

Dr. Victoria Williamson, Ph.D., conducts her music research at the University of London and says Christmas background music is well-liked but can reach a peak. Some retail store employees, for instance, will tell you that the music will drive them crazy.

Creating The Right Christmas Background Music Mix

Services that specialize in background (in-store) music, such as Brandi Music provided by Easy On Hold, can offer special blends of music to help generate more revenue at the holidays. Brandi Music curator Shelagh Koets has some tips.

  1. Consider mixing popular mainstream music with Christmas and holiday music for the early part of the season. This can help shoppers “ease into” the spirit while your operation avoids early burnout.
  2. Focus on nostalgia. Year after year, music polls show traditional Christmas background music songs are the most popular. (See the list, below.)
  3. Control the tempo based on store traffic. If you need shoppers to keep moving, program up-tempo, newer selections. Go do more peaceful and light “Christmas Background Music – Instrumentals” or “Christmas Background Piano Music” to keep shoppers in your space longer.

How Christmas Background Music Helps Retailers

Our research has turned up at least five real benefits of playing Christmas background music in your store (and on your phones as “Christmas Hold Music“).

  1. Holiday music signals shoppers to consider festive items and gift purchases, leading to higher spend.
  2. Promotional messages about festive items and specials further influence upsells prior to check out.
  3. The nostalgic qualities of Christmas music give you warm fuzzies (even if you’re a bit of a Grinch).
  4. Top brands wait until Nov. 22nd and stick to classic Christmas hits to please the most customers. Remember, familiar moments reward the brain and make us feel good.
  5. Holiday music and messaging is not just for reatil stores. With too-few employees and too many callers, phone on hold in the post-pandemic world is a major opportunity to win or lose a customer. Carefully consult with a music on hold expert

Billboard’s Holiday Hot 100

The long-time authority on music popularity, Billboard Magazine, maintains a “Hot 100” list of the top tuns for the holiday season. Of the top 10 as of November 15 of 2021, not one recording was made during this century. Only two are more recent than 1980.

  1. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Maria Carey (1994)
  2. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee (1958)
  3. Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms (1957)
  4. A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives (1964)
  5. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Andy Williams (1963)
  6. Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano (1970)
  7. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – Dean Martin (1959)
  8. Last Christmas – Wham! (1984)
  9. Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry (1958)
  10. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) – Nat “King Cole (1962)

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