Music is used by retail brands to motivate – and the same goes for sport. Joggers pump out high-octane tunes, boxers strut into the ring to their own theme song, chants ring out across the football stadium. All are sounds that motivate. Thanks to new research, retailers are set to take another leaf out of the sporting book: playlists don’t just motivate sports people – they can motivate teams, too.
Researchers at the University of Hanover’s Institute for Sports Science had a hunch that music might have a positive effect on the performance of footballers. To test this they transmitted 140bpm dance music into wireless headphones worn by a 5-a-side team and recorded statistics relating to the effectiveness of their teamwork. The results were fascinating. When the music was out of sync, teamwork was erratic and worse than when no music was played. But, when the music was synchronised the teamwork noticeably improved. It’s as though the music created subconscious strands of mutual understanding that tied the team together. The music synchronised the players, literally putting them all on the same wavelength and as a consequence they were a more efficient and cohesive team. This is a powerful development from the singular, personal affect of the running playlist.
So, just as the best DJs can make a club full of people sway in unison to their beat, a team of sports people can be galvanised through music. Now you’re not going to start seeing the England team running around Wembley with headphones on. That just wouldn’t be practical. Having said this, top teams from around Europe have shown interest in the research for enhancing their training techniques, so there are potential applications in the sporting world.
More importantly though, what does this mean for brands? Thinking back to retail, Pret A Manger has recently organised training days to encourage more cheerfulness amongst their staff and Pizza Express do something similar to inspire playful banter. The intention is to create more efficient teams with closer bonds, resulting in happier customers. But that same team has to listen to the in-store playlist every day so if it’s erratic and unpredictable then all this hard work will be undone. If, on the other hand, the music is considered, consistent and well delivered then you’ll end up with a doubly efficient and unified team and positively ecstatic customers!