Audio, Installations

Psychology Of Sound

Diving deeper into sound strategy for retail.
One Powell AT&T Store in San Francisco

As retail continues to spiral down or spin out into new terrain, the experience within the store has never been more critical. It is undeniable how important sound is to setting the tone of a retail store visit. Within the multisensory toolbox, sound is one of the most powerful weapons, because our brains react faster to sound than to any other stimuli.As retail continues to spiral down or spin out into new terrain, the experience within the store has never been more critical. It is undeniable how important sound is to setting the tone of a retail store visit. Within the multisensory toolbox, sound is one of the most powerful weapons, because our brains react faster to sound than to any other stimuli.

Thanks to emerging technologies, the delivery of in-store audio has never been as easy or effective. Today, service providers and retailers alike can provide powerful, cost-effective and refreshing ways to engage audiences and support store key performance indicators (KPIs). However, like everything else, there must be a carefully planned systems design and integration strategy underpinning the effort.

Creating A Psych-Based Sound Strategy

Retailers often don’t think strategically enough about how music will affect the overall shopping experience, and how it might differ by guest, location and time of day. They also don’t always consider the unconscious effect that the sound coming out of the speakers has on their customers. In this article, I’ll share some thoughts about “sonic branding” to consider in forthcoming retail integration projects.

The response is deep within the brain. Sounds constantly affect hormone secretions, but they also affect breathing, heartrate and brainwaves. Both pleasant and unpleasant sounds are associated with life experiences and the feelings attached to them. So, what a person hears very much affects how he or she feels at any given moment.

There are two reasons that music is the most potent form of sound related to emotions: You recognize it fast, and you associate it with other things in a very powerful way. A book, The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel and Buy, explores this incredible subconscious association with music. We put that premise to test within MaxMedia’s Retail Labs.

To conduct the test, MaxMedia’s in-house behavioral analyst played a series of short music clips from known movie soundtracks, brand mnemonics (think Intel) and well-known songs. The test administrator asked each of us to share the color that came to mind when we heard each one. More than 80 percent of us shared the same color for each ditty; later, we found out that the color was tied to the emotion we subconsciously associated with the movie, brand or “vibe” connected to the song. Our brains…

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