Does Jingle Bells put a jingle in the cash register? Does “Jingle Bells” put the jingle in the cash register? Everywhere you go after Thanksgiving and sometimes even before, you hear an incessant track of Christmas music. Some of it is traditional, some modern, some instrumental, some with vocals but shoppers will hear the same dozen or so songs over and over until the new year.

The question is: does it work to improve holiday shopping revenues?

According to Dr. Victoria Williamson, a researcher on the psychology of music at Goldsmiths University of London, it can be too much of a good thing. When exposed to the same music that we like repeatedly, there is a U shaped curve. Initially, we like it but with repetition it eventually gets to a peak after which we get bored and annoyed with it. Of course, people who don’t like Christmas music to begin with start off at the bored and annoyed point.

The negative effect can be exacerbated when people are stressed out by the holidays, but is lessened in those who are relaxed and have a positive holiday-related mood.

The bottom line to making the cash registers ring? Combine slow tempo holiday music with congruent holiday scents like pine and peppermint, suggests Dr. Eric Spangenberg, prolific sensory marketing researcher at Washington State University in Pullman. The combination of pleasant holiday scents and slower tempo holiday music increases the time shoppers spend in the store, their intent to purchase and their intent to return to the store.

That’s something to put a smile on the faces of customers and retailers alike this holiday season!

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