How music takes you back to…


Remember the song that was constantly on the radio when you first fell in love? Or the song you played when that first love was lost? Put it on and I bet you will instantly feel like a love smitten teenager again.

Music and scent are the two types of sensory input that have the strongest associative impact. Think about what happens when a stranger walks by wearing the same perfume your partner always uses. You experience an instant recognition and association. The same principle applies to music. A single note can be enough to take you back to a specific event or mood.

Apparently we are dealing with a rather strong psychological response to sensory input here. So could we perhaps harvest this power and use it to the retailer’s advantage?

To put it in presidential words: Yes we can!

Association can be used to alter perception. I once conducted a customer survey in a wine shop and found that the customers perceived the shop as being quite average in quality and pricing. In reality though, the shop was rather more expensive than the average bottle shop and sold quite exclusive high quality wines. Something was obviously wrong with the retailer’s outings.

I changed the background music from pop to a smooth and stylish blend of chill-out and lounge music, with just a hint of light classical thrown in. This instantly made for a totally different atmosphere.

Upon analyzing the results of a new survey among customers we found that they now perceived the shop as up-market and high quality. Which it actually was. Sales instantly went up by 15,7%!

This example illustrates how certain musical genres are associated with different levels of quality.

Lounge, jazz and classical music tend to be associated with luxury and quality. However, when improperly implemented they also tend to be perceived as slightly old fashioned and out of date. So tread carefully here!

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