Why Ed Sheeran's music is a fast food chain's dream

A new study shows how background music affects the size of your appetite...

Restaurants that carefully curate their background soundtrack to match their brand enjoy a significant bump in overall sales, according to a new study.

The results show that "a carefully selected playlist of music that reflects the company’s brand increased sales with more than 9.1% compared with playing random popular songs."

The Swedish Retail Institute partnered with Spotify Business provider Soundtrack Your Brand to conduct the largest ever field experiment on the music played in restaurants.

Researchers analysed close to two million purchases at an unidentified American burger chain in Sweden.

When they played bespoke playlsts – in this case, aimed at younger eaters – burger sales increased 8.6%, french fries were 8.8% more in demand and dessert sales jumped by 15.6%.

Ola Sars, Soundtrack’s CEO Ola Sars told The Guardian that Ed Sheeran's latest smash hit 'Shape Of You' is a prime example of a song that matches the "welcoming, modern and expressive" ambience of restaurants "targeting a millennial audience" perfectly.

Professor Sven-Olov Daunfeldt, who led the study, said:

"When done right, music has a major positive effect on sales. Play the wrong music, and you just might find that you’re alienating that very same customer and selling significantly less.”

A separate survey of 2,101 customers showed that their wellbeing and satisfaction improved when they had listened to brand-appropriate music as opposed to random chart music, even though diners seemed unaware of the music that was played in the restaurant. Background music thus seems to impact consumers’ emotions in a subconscious way.

Prof Daunfeldt continued:

“Based on these results, I’d advise anyone who has a restaurant to be very mindful about the choice of music. Unless you think hard about the music you play, you might be better off to refrain from playing background music altogether."