How Music Influences Brand Perception at Events

February 09, 2016 | B2B B2C Consumer Activations

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“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” - Aldous Huxley


Huxley wrote these words in Music at Night and Other Essays, a collection of works he published in 1931. His simple yet powerful sentiment rings just as true today as it did back then, particularly when it comes to experiential music marketing. Music is an essential piece of a smart brand's consumer communication strategy.


"Music played in-store and in other businesses in public places has become more than just Muzak played in the background. It has moved to the forefront," says Jakob Lusensky, CEO of Heartbeats International, a Stockholm-based company that helps brands use music to influence consumers. "Just as interior design is part of the in-store experience, music has become an important competitive tool for business owners."


Incorporating music into your trade show presence enhances the overall visitor experience. How do you want clients and potential clients to perceive your brand? How long do you want them to linger? How do you want to influence their behavior? Choosing the right soundscape is essential. This is where experiential music marketing comes into just hit play.


A 2011 study about music's influence in public places found that volume is the dominant factor when determining the effects of experiential music marketing. Second, the music has to match public perception of that particular brand.


Patrick Hartmann, a researcher at the University of Basque Country, co-authored a study about the effects of music in advertising. Two groups were shown television ads that were identical except for song choice; one version included fast music and had greater musical range, while the other used music that was slower with less tonality. Participants who saw the first ad described the brand as "energetic, sporty, exciting, refreshing, young and fun." In contrast, in the second ad the brand was perceived as "more delicate, soft, relaxing, mature, natural and healthy."


Thus, a modern, upbeat tune wouldn't be the best choice for a heritage brand that wants to convey a sense of security, but it would be spot on for a company promoting a sense of adventure.


Businesses like Heartbeat International and Neurotic Media are part of a pocket industry of music consultants playing in experiential music marketing. Shachar Oren, president and CEO of Neurotic Media, explains, "Since music connects with fans emotionally and lifestyle-wise, it has the power to motivate consumers to take action." The tricky part is finding the right music to motivate them to take the action you want.


Flower shop customers in a 2010 study spent more time in the store when exposed to romantic music (as opposed to a music-free environment), but the music had no effect on the amount of money that people spent. Was this program a success or a failure? It depends on the shop owner's goals. The same rules apply to experiential marketing.


Meeting planners and trade show exhibitors who don't include sound in their strategic plans are more than likely leaving money on the proverbial table. Understanding how to use experiential music marketing can have lasting positive effects on a brand.


Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.