Tell me what song you are listening to and I will tell you what you will consume

This study took place in a supermarket in England, carried out by a team from the University of Leicester. The researchers organized French and German wines of similar categories and prices on a shelf. On certain days of the week, they put on French music. On other days, they played German songs. The results of this experiment revealed that the days in which consumers listened to French music, they mostly bought French wine, whereas the days in which German was on, they mostly bought German wines7 .

Several supermarkets have been testing the power of music in the purchase process and which styles generate more sales and retain customers11.

Researches also indicate that there is an influence of music on the amount of time consumers spend in the supermarket and in the value that they attribute to the products12.

Music influences the customer’s perception positively regarding the quality of products and services and their price8. If the consumers’ favorite songs are being played, for instance, their evaluation of the products and the services will be higher.

In studies which correlated skin conductance measurements with functional magnetic resonance, it was observed that when subjects heard musical passages that caused pleasure (bringing “chills”), areas of the limbic and paralimbic systems related to reward were stimulated. 1  9

When music transports us to the threshold of ecstasy, we behave similarly to addicts, listening to it repeatedly3 because the brain is able to recognize and qualify the sounds we enjoy, carrying or bringing various emotions.

Lots of advertising campaigns use music to create a brand identity which generates connection and reinforces memorization in the consumer’s mind. If these stimuli are systematically reinforced in communication, as well as in the sales point, the number of activated sensory memories increases, strengthening ties with the brand7.

Senses can play a decisive role in branding because they are the main means people use to intake, to get to know, to understand, to feel and to relate to the world around them 10.

As a result of these discoveries, many brands have begun to invest in “music branding”, a technique which develops a musical selection to represent the brand at an event or point of sale. In addition to creating the sound signature, sound branding develops proprietary music, which can be played during a call made to customer service, in an advertising campaign or on a customized radio for the sales point.

To evaluate the extent to which music can influence the recognition and image of a brand, a study10 conducted with Brazilian participants found out that when most people think of sound branding, the first national brand cited is Rede Globo, with its ‘plim-plim’ sound. And in the international context, it is Coca-Cola.

Besides Coca Cola, several other brands13 have been investing in sound branding to generate unique and memorable experiences for consumers, generating recall and intensifying affection: Intel, Nokia, Audi, Apple, Microsoft, among others.

One example is the Mastercard Sound On campaign, which presented its consumers with its sound identity that appears both in the audio of commercials and in the sound emitted by the machine when the customer makes a purchase with the card.

Another case is the GRU Airport (International Airport of São Paulo, Brazil), the largest one in Latin America, which was the first in its country to use the sound branding. The idea was to create a sense of closeness within the environment, with personalized sounds that can be heard in the airport hall and on the waiting calls, among other places.

The initiative to reinforce a playlist in the consumer’s mind can also be seen in the Outback Steakhouse restaurant chain. For each delivery order made by customers, they also send the traditional Australian bread, which is always given before the main course is served at the table. Along with the bread, there is a recommendation for a typical playlist of the restaurant and a suggestion for consumers to reduce the lighting of the environment, referring to the environment they find in these restaurants. An excellent solution for the brand to stay close to consumers during the pandemic period, when eating out became more restricted.

Even a Syrian refugee, who has recently arrived in Brazil, has been discovering the effects of music on “experience marketing”. Joanna Ibrahim created the “Open Taste” project, which trains refugee and immigrant cooks to work with catering at events.

During the pandemic, she managed to increase her customer base through delivery, creating a menu dedicated to a different country every day of the week: Mexican food on Mondays, Syrian delicacies on Tuesdays, Armenian dishes on Wednesdays, dishes from Congo on Thursdays, Venezuelan cuisine on Fridays and Colombian cuisine on Saturdays. Along with the meal and the typical songs, the client receives the link for a playlist of the chefs’ country of origin. A creative action that awakens the senses, triggers emotions and generates a greater desire for consumption.


  1. BLOOD, A.; ZATORRE, R.J. Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion. PNAS, v. 98, p. 11818-11823, 2001. [ Links ]
  2. DOS SANTOS, Kamylla Segovia; MOURA, Luciana Teles. A música como elemento de influência ao consumo no ponto-de-venda.
  3. Jourdain R: Music, the brain, and ecstasy: How music captures our imagination. New York, NY, US: Avon Books, 1998
  4. LEVITIN, D. J. A música no seu cérebro: a ciência de uma obsessão humana. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2010. [ Links ]
  5. The world in six songs.New York: Dutton, 2008. [ Links ]
  6. Current advances in the cognitive neuroscience of music. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, v. 1156, p. 211-231, 2009. [ Links ]
  7. LINDSTROM, M. A lógica do consumo: verdades e mentiras sobre por que compramos; tradução Marcello Lino. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 2009.
  8. MALHOTRA, Naresh. (Org.). Design de Loja e Merchandising Visual.São Paulo: Saraiva, 2013.
  9. MENON, V.; LEVITIN, D.J. The rewards of music listening: Response and physiological connectivity of the mesolimbic system. NeuroImage, v. 28, p. 175-184, 2005. [ Links ]
  10. RIBEIRO, L. P. F. de C. O Branding no Séc.XXI: Um Apelo aos Sentidos. 2009. 167 f. Dissertação (Mestrado) – Curso de Marketing, Faculdade de Economia da Universidade do Porto, Porto, 2009.SECRETÁRIA DE ESTADO DE SAÚDE – SES. Disponível em: Acesso em: 08 maio 2016.
  11. TERRA, Thiago. Música estimula o comportamento dentro dos supermercados. Appas Show, 2018. Disponível em: . Acesso em 06 jun. 2019.
  12. VIDA, Irena; OBADIA, Claude; KUNZ, Michelle. The effects of background music on consumer responses in a high-end supermarket. International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, v. 17, n. 5, p. 469-482, 2007.
  13. Sound Branding – A Vida Sonora das Marcas. São Paulo: Matrix, 2015.
About The Author

Dr. Betty Wainstock

Dr. Betty Wainstock is Partner at Ideia Consumer Insights (Rio de Janeiro- Brazil) and Professor at School of Advertising & Marketing (Escola Superior de Propaganda & marketing- ESPM-RJ- Brazil). Postdoc in cultural studies, Doctor of Psychology, PhD and Degree in psychology

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