Smart Consumers Find Power in Tech-Enabled Soundtrack for Shopping, Intentional Spending

By: Lee Rickwood

November 11, 2022

These are challenging times for consumers trying to manage the pressures of inflation and rising interest rates. Some sound shopping tips and techniques may be useful. Maybe even a soundtrack!

When money worries rise, many consumers try to be more mindful about their shopping habits as a way of managing finances and relieving anxieties. Building on a growing trend in the marketplace, savvy shoppers are practicing what’s called ‘intentional spending’: making purposeful purchasing decisions that line up with their financial realities and personal values.

Smart consumers make intentional efforts to buy what they need rather than what they want. Many who practice intentional spending actually stop, pause and think before making a purchase. And when it comes to a one-day pause, a really careful consideration of the purchase, many consumers say the transaction can end up being even more satisfying.

In fact, nearly eight in 10 consumers report positive feelings from intentional spending, including feeling in control, more disciplined, thoughtful, empowered and happy.

Positive emotions and financial outcomes can spring from intentional spending because – according to research and analysis recently completed at Interac, the Canadian debit card and funds transfer services company – it allows shoppers to better control their financial situation and the purchases they make.

young woman listening to earbuds looks at smartphone screen

Interac created the Sound Shopping soundtrack to experiment with the ways music could positively impact and add mindfulness to the shopping experience. Interac image.

In fact, the research into current spending habits indicated that Canadians were looking for ways to boost beneficial spending behaviours and tools to encourage intentional spending habits, says Nader Henin, AVP, Digital and Retail Commerce Products, Interac Corp.

“We know there is an appetite there,” Henin conveyed in an e-mail exchange with “As Canadians continue to turn to Interac products to help them maintain control over their money in these challenging economic times, we looked for creative ways to help them spend more mindfully. We wanted to experiment with the ways music could positively impact and add mindfulness to the Canadian shopping experience and we created Sound Shopping with this in mind.”

The Sound Shopping music track is available to all Canadians via Spotify; it’s about 20 minutes long, and is a dynamic mix of tempo, instrumentation and musical patterns. The goal was to create a track with a lot of variety in order to make listeners more aware of their shopping experience and in turn, more mindful of their purchasing behaviours.

“The release of Sound Shopping follows a period of both rising retail transactions and Interac Debit use, highlighting the need now, more than ever, for Canadians to feel in control of their spending,”  Henin said.

Interac transaction data shows Canadians used Interac Debit to conduct nearly seven per cent more transactions this past summer (compared to spring 2022) and the spending amount rose almost six per cent.

Transaction data also shows that Interac Debit spending at restaurants and eating places increased by seven per cent, bars by 15 per cent and theatres by 22 per cent (again, comparing the summer to spring ’22).

“The opportunities and temptations to spend are rising as Canadians now enjoy fewer restrictions than they did during earlier stages of the pandemic. There are generational differences to this as well. We know from our research that fifty per cent of Gen Z adults report they are spending more money because of increased social activities, compared to 20 per cent of Boomers.”

Interac wanted to experiment with the ways it could positively impact and help add mindfulness to the shopping experience, knowing that music has long been used to fuel purchase behaviours in retail.

man adjusts headphones while looking at store shelves

Music has long been used to fuel purchase behaviours in retail. Interac image.

Understanding the well-researched interplay between music and human emotions, cognition and behavioural reactions, some types of in-store music have been shown to cause people to spend more than they intended, but a more mindful approach can also be promoted through calming sounds and changing rhythms.

“Music surrounds us when we shop, but we rarely stop to think about the emotional responses which are elicited by tempo, mode and instrumentation, and the impact it can have on our behaviours,” said Valentin Fleur, Managing Director at Sixième Son, the sonic branding agency which created the Sound Shopping track. “The music we created is designed to span the length of a 20-minute shopping trip and uses all of these elements with the intent to trigger a more mindful shopping experience.”

As part of Interac’s research in its Sound Shopping study, shoppers from across the country took part. Half the participants listened to Sound Shopping, and a control group listened to the typical pop music heard in stores. The participants noted that the Sound Shopping track made them feel calmer than those who listened to the pop music and was associated with a 98 per cent purchase satisfaction rate.

Whether by music or information, consumers who are calmed and satisfied are less likely to spend on impulse now than they were before the pandemic. Over half (55 per cent) say they are practicing intentional spending and more than six in 10 say (64 per cent) pause and think about purchases before making them.

Canadian shoppers can put the Sound Shopping track to the test for themselves; along with the soundtrack, there’s tips and advice available to help consumers stay mindful while spending.



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