Consumers become aware of their environment through the five senses. The retail environment gives marketers the opportunity to play with consumers’ senses and to develop and maintain their relationships with brands (Jackson & Fulberg, 2003). Marketers often use the term “store atmospherics” to refer to approaches that tap consumers’ senses, and a strong brand appeals to all five senses (Flynn, 2005).
Of most interest to me is sound. Music sound tracks to TV ads can influence how the advertising message itself is inferred. For example, the use of fast music in-store can speed up the momentum of shopping and pleasant music is likely to bring about positive emotions. Fulberg (2003) proposes that our right, more emotional, brain processes sound. Sounds of products in use are being incorporated in advertising, such as the sound of cereals ‘snapping, crackling and popping’. Sound can influence consumers’ responses to advertising (e.g. attitudes towards the ad) and to the retail encironment (e.g. spend more money, or stay longer in the shop).
Milliman conducted a supermarket study in 1982, which found a 38% increase in sales when the supermarket played slow music compared to fast music. Moreover, another study by North Hargreaves, and McKendrick (1999) investigated the extent to which stereotypically French and German music influenced selections of French and German wines by supermarket customers. During a two-week testing period, French and German wines (both the same price and sweetness) were placed on the shelf with appropriate national flags. French and German music was played on alternate days. Results showed that the sales of French wine increased when French music was played and the sales of German wines increased when German music was played.
Another study by Holt-Hansen, 1978 who showed that beers can be perceived as having different taste sensations according to the type of music being played in the background. The same beers tasted stronger when music was harmonized, and tasted weak or watery when the music was Harsher. Finally, a study similar to this showed that ball-point pens were preferred when shown with attractive music than with unattractive music (Gorn, 1982).
Thus evidently sound plays a role in consumer’s perceptions of a brand and can influence buying behavior.
Fulberg, P. (2003). Using Sonic Branding in the Retail Environment: An Easy and Effective Way to Create Consumer Brand Loyalty While Enhancing the In-Store Experience, Journal of Consumer behavior, 3, 193-198.
Flynn, M. (2005). How to Use the Senses for a Better Brand Experience, Admap, 31-33.
Gorn, G. J. (1982) The Effects if Music in Advertising on Choice Behaviour: A classical conditioning approach, Journal of Marketing, 46, 94-101.
Holt-Hansen, K. (1971) Perceptual and Motor Skills, 33, 101-103.
Jackson, M. and Fulberg, P. (2003) Sonic Branding, Palgrave, Basingstoke.
Milliman, R. E. (1982). Using Background Music to Affect the Behaviour of Supermarket Shoppers, Journal of Marketing, 46, 86-91.
North, A. C., Hargreaves, D.J., and McKendrick, J. (1999) The Influence of In-Store Music of Wine Selections, Journal of Applied Psychology, 84, 271-276.