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How Playing Music Can Increase Front-End Sales

How Playing Music Can Increase Front-End Sales by Elements magazine |

July 9, 2020

Inside: Adding music to your pharmacy encourages patients to buy more.

Think back to the last time you visited a retail store and reacted strongly to the song playing. Maybe the catchy beat had you tapping your foot or the overbearing volume had you ducking for the exit. We often don’t realize music’s surprising ability to influence our behavior as shoppers.

But this effect on consumers isn’t limited to clothing lines or supermarkets. By playing music in your independent community pharmacy, you can harness a tool that reinforces your brand, appeals to your patients, and it even encourages more front-end sales.

Why Add a Soundtrack? 

When you play music in your store, patients visiting your store aren’t just running an errand, they’re having a sensory experience. A good playlist will put patients in the mood to buy, and research has shown the right songs can increase consumer spending.

Here are a few ways music can enhance the patient experience and encourage them to increase their basket size.

Creates a welcoming atmosphere

Playing music in your pharmacy creates

an inviting atmosphere for your patients.

Think about all the ways you already control the patient environment. You set up your front end aisles so they are easy for patients to move through. You use specific fonts and colors in your signage to create a unified shopping experience.

The music you play through the store is just one more way you manage the shopping environment for your patients.

It’s an opportunity to build your brand and differentiate yourself from the competition. The kind of music you play tells your patients what to expect from you. Calm instrumental music will foster a relaxing atmosphere, while upbeat pop hits could get patients excited to be in the store.

Maintains privacy

Adding music to your pharmacy can create an illusion of privacy. For patients who are dealing with highly personal medical issues, the added feeling of privacy can make their pharmacy experience a lot less stressful.

With music playing, patients can feel free to chat with the folks working at the pharmacy counter without worrying about whether the person behind them in line can hear the whole conversation. They also may be more comfortable approaching the front end staff to ask questions about over-the-counter products.

Because a soundtrack helps to hide noises like the voices and movements of other patients, it creates a personal bubble for visitors as they browse the store.

Boosts morale

Playing music in your pharmacy doesn’t only improve the experience of your patients — it can also make the store a more pleasant place to work for your employees. Music has been proven to improve people’s moods and reduce stress.

Plus, music has the potential to reap productivity benefits. According to a study in the Psychology of Music, workers who listened to music while they worked completed their tasks more efficiently than those who didn’t listen to music.

However, holiday music doesn’t seem to have the same positive effects. Retail employees report that listening to Christmas music for weeks on end has a negative impact on their happiness and productivity, so it’s best to limit “Jingle Bells” during the winter months.

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Choosing the Right Tunes

Background music in retail settings is proven to boost customer experience and increase purchases. But you can’t simply put your Spotify playlist on shuffle and expect to see positive results. Just like any other form of marketing, the songs you play won’t have universal appeal.

The right music for your pharmacy will depend on your desired brand image and your target market. When it comes to music selection, research indicates that three factors in particular influence consumers’ mentalities: volume, tempo, and genre.


Music volume has one of the largest effects on consumers’ shopping behavior. A study from the Journal of Consumer Marketing found that loud music encourages prolonged shopping times in younger audiences, while older shoppers display the opposite inclination. Interestingly, while the volume of music affects the length of shopping trips, it doesn’t decrease overall sales.

Loud music also encourages impulse purchases, but you don’t want to go too loud. A study published by the Public Library of Science found that loud music can trigger a stress reaction, which isn’t something you want patients to experience when they come in to pick up their prescriptions.


Another music characteristic that alters buying behavior is tempo, or the speed of the song. Research shows that there is a direct correlation between music tempo and the amount of time a customer spends in the store.

Slower music gives the impression that less time has passed, leading patients to peruse for longer, and consequently, purchase more. It can also “reduce” your wait times because the line will feel shorter to patients who are tuned into the music. Similarly, playing music in a minor chord, which is correlated with a darker, sadder emotion, causes patients to linger.


Patients will respond differently to different types of music. One study revealed that in a comparison with Top 40 hits, classical music incited shoppers to buy more expensive items. The style of music you choose to play in your pharmacy should align with the interests of your typical patient because different genres usually appeal to different demographics.

For example, the average retiree probably wouldn’t prefer heavy metal while she waits on prescriptions. Choose music appropriate for your average patient and for the experience you want in your pharmacy.

Creating the Playlist

Music can help you keep patients engaged, but you probably don’t have time to curate a playlist on top of running every other part of the pharmacy.

Instead of poring through your music library, you can use music streaming services like Spotify or Pandora, which have playlists and channels designed for a retail setting. For a small fee, you can play music from these services all day without hearing any ads.

For a more tailored approach, you can use one of many professional services that create tailored playlists for your business and use consumer research to determine what songs which songs your patients will find most pleasant.


An Independently Owned Organization Serving Independent Pharmacies 

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is a member-owned organization that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited (formerly VAWD) warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.

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