Sound affects people – here is how.

In a world where so much money is spent on making sure brands appeal to the eyes, and with the knowledge that we experience the world with all our senses, it is a mystery that more brands are not taking control of their brand voice and harnessing the power of sound in their stores.
Sound is one of the most fundamental emotional triggers, sometimes the only sense we experience. For the first nine months of our lives we are soothed by the sound of water and reassured by the drumming of a heartbeat.

And even after we are born and all the other influences of the world distract us we are still, whether we know it or not, steered by sound on a deeply subconscious level.
It’s this subconscious relationship to sound and above all music that makes it such a powerful tool. Take movies for example, the dramatic car chase, the love scene that moves us to tears or the inspiring scene where, against all odds, we witness some incredible achievement.
Take away the music and you remove a huge amount of the impact on the viewer’s emotional connection to the moment in time.

There are four main ways that humans react to sound:

Physically –The sound of waves crashing on the beach or the gentle sound of bird song calm us and make us feel safe. Thousands of years ago when the birds were singing then we knew that there were no predators nearby. Waves make us remember the maternal comfort of our very beginning and of being free and on holiday.
House music causes a flow of hormones into your blood stream, your heart rate increases, you become more self-confident and social. DJ’s use this feel-good factor to create a state of euphoria on dance floors around the globe.
If a customer walks into an empty store and is hit with a wave of high tempo music, is that person really going to relax and make purchasing decisions?
Psychologically – A Requiem played at the loss of a loved one, a love song when we are in love or have lost love. Religious music has been used for centuries as a psychological connection to ideology and worship. The first Christmas song of the year on the radio or a song which takes you back to a time or place.
In retail, therefore it is crucial to remove personal tastes from the brand voice. It’s not about trying to please each customer, it’s about finding a brand voice which is relevant and in line with the brand identity and the customer demographic.
This becomes a challenge when educating the staff and perhaps taking away their local control of the music. They are working, and will of course respond to a higher tempo in a different way to the customers. They see it as their space and often choose the music according to their own mood and needs which can be very different from the needs of the brand.
Behavior and decision making – This is crucial for retailers to understand. How do you want the customers to behave? If you have a large store with thousands of products then you don’t want them to be over stimulated by the music and speed round the store without having the chance to take in the products and offers available.
In a dining environment if the customers are more relaxed then the chances of selling them another drink or a coffee increase. If people have to wait for service from a member of staff the they will be less aware of time and less stressed if the music is appropriate.
We listen to high tempo music when we are exercising for a reason and because it is appropriate to the way we want our bodies to react, and the same is true of shopping.

Human beings have a very small bandwidth when it comes to processing sound. We can listen to around one and a half sounds before we get confused and have to decide which sound to focus on. Next time you are in a busy space stop and listen and try to see how many sounds you notice. If you can’t think you can’t make an intelligent purchasing decision, no decision no sale, it’s a simple as that.
By harnessing the power of sound in your retail environment you are taking control of a powerful sales tool that you can’t afford to miss out on!