Paper Presentation: Field Experiments in Restaurants

21 June, 11.20-11.50: Merav Malcman, Ben-Gurion University

Field Experiments in Restaurants: The Effects of Music

Scientific Background and Working Hypotheses
Music has a potential influence on customers’ behavior and decision-making. Background music affects behavior in a variety of ways, and previous research has tried to understand how people react in everyday commercial environments (e.g. restaurants, markets, wine store, etc.), and which emotions are involved in each situation (Milliman, 1986; Wilson, 2003). Moreover, the effect of music depends on the nature of the task and the type of music playing in the background.

Many terms are used to describe music; three basic factors are time, pitch and texture (Bruner, 1990). Time includes, inter alia, rhythm (the pattern of accents given to beats or notes in a song) and tempo (the speed or rate at which a rhythm progresses). Pitch includes the melody and mode of the music. Melody is the succession of notes occurring over time throughout a song. Changes in melody can be either ascending (rising in pitch) or descending (dropping in pitch). Mode refers to the series of notes, arranged in a scale of ascending pitch that provides the tonal substance of a song. The best-known modes are the major and the minor modes. The texture of music refers to its timbre and volume. Timbre describes the distinctive tone that makes one instrument sound different from another even if they are both playing the same melody at the same pitch. Volume also contributes to the texture of music; for example, by making one note louder than others around it.

The literature suggests that tempo is one of the most important determinants of human response to music. Milliman (1986) showed the effect of music tempo on the behavior of restaurant patrons. When slow music was playing, customers spent significantly more time in the restaurant and more money on alcoholic beverages. Caldwell & Hibbert (1999) also found that with a slow tempo, patrons spent significantly more time on dining; although there was a clear trend towards higher spending in their slow tempo group, the amount spent on food, not only beverages, was also significant.

Tempo is strongly correlated with arousal. Fast music has been shown to raise listeners’ self-reported arousal levels (Knoferle, Spangenberg, Herrmann, & Landwehr, 2012). Tempo also effects time perception (Caldwell & Hibbert, 1999; Knoferle et al., 2012; Milliman, 1986) so diners in the slow tempo condition may underestimate time spent in the restaurant.

This study use the musical tempo as an independent variable to report its influence on time spent, bill amount and the tip size and accordingly the hypotheses are:

H1: When the tempo (speed) of the music is slow (fast), patrons spend more (less) time dining.

H2: When the tempo (speed) of the music is slow (fast), patrons spend more (less) time dining and their pleasure is positively aroused, hence the bill amount will be higher (lower).

H3: When the tempo (speed) of the music is slow (fast), patrons spend more (less) time dining and their pleasure is positively aroused, hence the tip size will be higher (lower).

In this study, the experiment is conducted without prior knowledge of patrons’ music preferences. The research question in this study is what are the effects of music tempo on tipping?

Experimental Design & Methods
The two tempo conditions were created based on the criteria used by Milliman (1986) and reused by Caldwell & Hibbert (1999) in their research: music with 94 or more beats per minute was used for the fast tempo condition, while music with 72 or fewer beats per minute was used for the slow tempo condition. The manipulation will be to play music with a fast tempo, denoted FT , or with a slow tempo, denoted ST . The volume of the music will remain consistent throughout all manipulations.
In order to acquire better control on the music variable, the tempo will be randomly assigned on different days of the week, and reversed the following week. In the control group, the music will be the regular music played at the restaurant. The playlist will be a combination of female and male vocalists, both well-known popular artists and lesser known, less popular ones. The music (songs) for all manipulations will be chosen by a company that specializes in playlists for background music in restaurants, and with whom the restaurant has an ongoing contract. The Musical genre was Italian music and Greece music, that are the regular genre of the background music in the restaurant.

Data Collection and Experimental Procedures
The data will be collected from a restaurant in Tel Aviv, over a period of several months, in different seasons, and on different days of the week. All data will be from diners served from 17:00 to 00:00, in parties of 1-2 adults without children or with up to 3 children. The common practice in this restaurant is that all tips are pooled and shared between the waiters at the end of each session, prorated by the number of hours worked. This practice will be kept for the tips collected during the experiment.

At the beginning of each session, each day, these instructions will be relayed to the relevant servers: I’m collecting statistical data about the restaurant. I will request specific data on activity at tables with 1-2 adult patrons per table or 1-2 adult patrons with up to and including 3 children. Once the patrons have left the restaurant, you will be required to provide me with information about the bill and your tip. Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

To ensure that the sampling of the target population of the research is random, a timetable of predetermined manipulations will be set, and different manipulations will alternate by days of the week. For example, if the study begins with manipulation FT on a Sunday, the following Sunday will continue with manipulation ST, and so on for all dates.
The main data variables that collected are: Treatments (Regular = no manipulation = the regular music on the restaurant, FT = fast tempo music, ST = slow tempo music), Bill amount, Tip amount, Time of entrance, Time of paying the bill and more variables. The complete data variables will be entered into the database, as explained in Appendix.

Bruner, G. C. (1990). Music, mood, and marketing. the Journal of marketing, 94-104.
Caldwell, C., & Hibbert, S. A. (1999). Play that one again: The effect of music tempo on consumer behaviour in a restaurant. European Advances in Consumer Research, 4, 58-62.
Husain, G., Thompson, W. F., & Schellenberg, E. G. (2002). Effects of musical tempo and mode on arousal, mood, and spatial abilities. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 20(2), 151-171.
Knoferle, K. M., Spangenberg, E. R., Herrmann, A., & Landwehr, J. R. (2012). It is all in the mix: The interactive effect of music tempo and mode on in-store sales. Marketing Letters, 23(1), 325-337.
Milliman, R. E. (1986). The influence of background music on the behavior of restaurant patrons. Journal of consumer research, 286-289.
Wilson, S. (2003). The effect of music on perceived atmosphere and purchase intentions in a restaurant. Psychology of music, 31(1), 93-112.