Sound has the power to impact our mood and sway our buying habits. Researchers have found that the pace of background music affects customer perceptions of wait time, spending and turnover in stores and restaurants. Fast music decreases spending in a retail environment, but increases turnover in restaurants1. For restaurants more concerned with increasing the spend-per-customer ratio, slower music creates longer dining times, leading to a 29 percent increase in the average bill according to one experiment1.
Tempo aside, companies choose music congruent with their brand identity. Abercrombie and FitchTM uses loud upbeat music with a heavy bass and eliminates gaps between tracks, creating a youthful nightclub-like atmosphere in its teen-focused clothing shops2. Victoria’s SecretTM, on the other hand, plays classical music to evoke a sense of upscale exclusivity for its brand 1. The GapTM, Eddie BauerTM, StarbucksTM, and Toys “R” UsTM are just a few other retail chains that invest in music programs customized for their brands 2.
When sound is directly linked to the product itself, consumers may interpret it as a sign of quality or familiarity. Kellogg’sTM takes full advantage of the sound element. Its Rice KrispiesTM have the classic “snap, crackle, pop,” but did you know the crunch of the Kellogg’s cornflake was carefully developed in sound labs?1 By introducing a distinctive sound to its breakfast cereal, the company integrated four senses into its product: taste, touch, sight and sound.
Sound is an effective brand cue that can evoke a sense of quality, increase consumer relevance, boost recall, and impact purchase intent.
1 BRAND sense: Build Powerful Brands through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound, , Free P, 2005.
2 Sensory Marketing, , Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.