We’ve all known about subliminal messaging and secret messages when it comes to advertising. This technique used in marketing and other media has been used for years in order to influence consumer spending, usually without the consumer even being aware of what the messenger is doing. This can involve the use of split second flashes of text, hidden images, or subtle cues that affect the audience at a level below conscious awareness. I know. It seems kind of scary to think that these companies are working so diligently to get into our inner psyche. But it looks like this tactic is taking a new turn, this time in the form of Sound Sensory Marketing.

Right up there with sight, sound makes up 99% of the information we retain when presented to us as consumers. Sound marketing isn’t entirely new, considering we have been subjected to audio advertising since the invention of the radio. But with more and more podcasts and commercially streamed music, the use of advertising through audio has become even more proponent. Advertisers are now taking those familiar tunes and jungles and trying to find new ways to work them into our daily lives.

Big name brands and major retailers are investing big bucks in order to subtly whisper in our ear “come spend with us”. The objective is that when we hear that Intel “bong” or the first notes of the McDonalds jingle, our brains will come to connect with whatever they are trying to sell. Brands nowadays are skipping the audio commercial entirely and are moving to just playing familiar sound notes in populated areas, such as malls and outdoor social settings. The average mall shopper unknowingly will be forced to stop and think “It’s been a while since I’ve had a Big Mac”.

For some retailers it is just all about finding the right playlist. An article posted by thoughtco.com states that major retail outlets such as The Gap, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Outdoor World, for example, use customized in-store music programs to appeal to the senses of their anticipated customer groups… Emily Anthese of Psychology Today wrote, “Shoppers make more impulsive purchases when they’re over-stimulated. Loud volume leads to sensory overload, which weakens self-control.” The article goes on to say, according to the Harvard Business Review, the familiar Intel “Bong” is played somewhere in the world once every five minutes. The simple five-note tone, along with the memorable slogan “Intel inside” has helped Intel become one of the most recognized brands in the world.

So what it all comes down to is this, the next time you are out and about and you feel that urge to drink a Coke, on your way to Taco Bell before picking up a new Del computer from Walmart…you might want to stop and take a listen.

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An Introduction to Sensory Marketing

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