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More than a Melody: Music, People and Brand Connections

By Tricia Houston, Founder of The ExperienceBuilt Group

Sometimes setting the stage for a human experience is as simple as hearing an invisible cue that triggers an unexpected brand connection so subtle, the buyer doesn’t even realize what’s happened.

Last year, my household started a new ritual – stopping everything we were doing and dancing as a family whenever Walmart’s Welcome to My House commercial, featuring the song of the same name by Flo Rida, came on. There’s just something about the music that compelled us to have some fun – immediately.

If you were to classify me as a shopper, I think I fall squarely into the Target Mom bucket. I’ll openly admit I’ve typically been a Walmart avoider – the lines are too long, the store can be a mess, and their level of design for products doesn’t usually match my needs. What’s been interesting, though, is how Walmart has crept into my consideration set. I’m convinced it started with the family dance.

The Data Is Strong

This whole experience made me think about the power of music over brand affinity. The relationship with this invisible cue is fascinating. The Journal of Marketing shows that market researchers have documented the influence of hearing liked or disliked music and product preference since the 1980s. A study published by Nielsen Holdings N.V. in July 2015, I Second That Emotion: The Emotive Power of Music in Advertising, looked at the effectiveness of more than 600 television advertisements, more than 500 of which included music. Their key finding? Commercials with some form of music performed better across four metrics that influence human behavior – creativity, empathy, emotive power and information power – than those that didn’t have music. 

In short, savvy marketers recognize that songs help them connect with their customers on an emotional level, which can lead to purchases. 

Advertising is Just Part of the Puzzle

Music is an intersection of brands and people which makes it an important marketing asset, but it remains just one of the many needed to assure positive brand connects. Its value comes in its continuity across the complete activation portfolio. What other experiences are happening to influence buyers? Are they being tracked? Do the physical touchpoints match the promise of the invisible cues from the audio?

I’ve started to pay attention to other companies running similar ads where the star (and only audio) is the music. They make me stop and look, or listen with intent, because they’re setting the stage for the kind of human experience that interests me. They’re working hard to connect with me.

Whether you’re CPG or B2B, sound is an event component within the marketing portfolio that’s often overlooked but think of the impact! Music can evoke strong emotional responses, especially when integrated into a campaign storyline in a way that helps drive brand relationships.


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