News: Researchers discover the sound of a good (and bad) deal

Buying a car? Don’t listen to classical music


IF YOU want to buy the right car or strike a good deal, be careful what sounds you can hear around you.

Researchers at Goldsmiths University in London have discovered that consumers’ buying decisions are strongly influenced by noises, sounds and music.

Working with online retailer eBay, they asked 2,000 shoppers to consider a selection of products while a range of noises, sounds and music were played.

Unknown to the shoppers, each product was rated poor, average or good for eight variables (price, discount, brand, description, review, stars, popularity and scarcity). For each product, the shoppers indicated their purchasing intentions, perceptions of value and quality and emotional response.

Search for and buy used cars here

The researchers found that sounds such as pop music, football commentary and people talking were more likely to help shoppers make a rational purchasing decision and spot a bargain than sounds such as classical music and the background buzz of a restaurant, which made them overrate a product’s quality and feel wealthier.

Using the research findings, eBay has commissioned a piece of music by Mistabishi, an electronic music producer. Called The Sound of Shopping it uses sounds that the researchers found reduced bad purchasing decisions, provided greater clarity on value and boosted rational decision making.

It might pay to listen to it while you’re browsing Driving

Top five “bad” sounds

  • Classical music – makes people overate a product’s quality by 5%
  • Restaurant buzz – another sound associated with  “quality”  that encourages people to pay more than they otherwise might
  • Baby crying – puts shoppers in a bad mood, skewing how they assess value and quality
  • Traffic – another sound that puts shoppers in a bad mood and makes them think less rationally
  • Silence – but only if you’re an extrovert. Extroverts on the other hand need background noise to shop well

Top five “good” sounds

  • Pop music radio – makes people feel so good that they are more likely to spend without getting “suckered” into bad deals. Less than a third (30.1%) made a bad purchasing decision while listening to pop music
  • Football commentary – people scored an average of four out of five for rational decision making when listening to a football commentary
  • TV or radio news piece about the economy, or people talking – factual background noise reduces bad purchasing decisions and removes emotional cues that might otherwise trick shoppers into a bad deal
  • Air conditioner – a sound NOT associated with quality or luxury, that helps people judge value better
  • Birds singing or lawnmowers – the sounds you hear sitting outdoors while shopping online make you more likely to buy outdoor products. People hearing birds singing are 2.4% more likely to buy a barbecue