The power of music as part of a sales strategy is often overlooked, despite a strong evidence base for its value. But it isn’t just down to the feel good effect of a banging tune. Read on to discover some key findings which show why clever curation should be fundamental to your branding, and the subliminal power it yields.

The Science Behind Sound
The Science Behind Sound

Music speaks volumes, and you can say so much when your playlist accurately represents your brand. Research has shown that music is more persuasive when it is congruent with its context (1). For example, people spend more money in a florist when romantic music is being played (2). In a wine shop, when French music is played people tend to buy French wine, and when German music is played they tend to buy German wine, without acknowledging that what they can hear is influencing their decisions (3). If your company prides itself on its green credentials, maybe something acoustic would optimise your brand. When your products are tailored to a more refined market playing chart hits with a broad appeal might make your authenticity seem questionable.

People spend more money in a florist when romantic music is being played.

Trials have found that playing classical music can give the impression of enhanced quality and value. Researchers played either classical music or chart hits in a wine shop, and found a clear trend for more expensive wines to be purchased to the sound of classical music (4). Another study found the same effect when investigating the perceived prices of items. Where luxury products were being offered to the sound of either classical or country music, they were valued more highly to classical music. Conversely, the estimated prices of practical items rose in predicted value when country music was being played. This indicates that the key factor in value perception is the congruence between the music being played and the product on offer (5). Paired with the wrong music, your product line could drop in value.

It seems the psychological impact of music goes even further than authenticating a brand and influencing buying choices. Music activates areas of the brain associated with recall, and can help commit your sales messages to memory, connecting your brand information with existing schema within the brain (5). If you need to convey something important to your customers, specialist music curation might be a vital aspect of your strategy.

In a wine shop, when French music is played people tend to buy French wine, and when German music is played they tend to buy German wine.

Rather than taking the simplistic view that music should be selected to entertain, the evidence indicates that more complex processes are occurring when we associate music with a brand. Music activates our memories and our judgements, and these are projected onto our buying choices - but only if they seem authentic, and that matching requires knowledge, skill and flair.

  1. Macinnis and Park (1991). The Differential Role of Characteristics of Music on High- and Low-Involvement Consumers' Processing of Ads. Journal of Consumer Research 18:2, 161–173.
  2. Jacob, Gueguen, Boulbry and Sami (2009). ‘Love is in the air’: congruence between background music and goods in a florist. The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research 19:1, 75-79.
  3. North, Hargreaves and McKendrick (1999). The Influence of In-Store Music on Wine Selections. Journal of Applied Psychology 84:2, 271-276.
  4. Areni and Kim (1993). The Influence of Background Music on Shopping Behaviour: Classical Versus Top-Forty Music in a Wine Store. Advances in Consumer Research 20, 336-340.
  5. North, Sheridan and Areni (2016). Music Congruity Effects on Product Memory, Perception, and Choice. Journal of Retailing 92:1, 83-95.