Sounds, other than the human voice, can facilitate or hinder communication. They’re often used to create a mood that evokes a specific emotion. Have you ever watched a movie or television show, and noticed how the background music changes, depending on the emotion of the scene? Sometimes there’s even music designated for specific characters. Remember Bruce, the shark, in “Jaws”?
Sound can affect us psychologically, physiologically, cognitively and behaviorally. Business sound expert and chairman of The Sound Agency Julian Treasure, discusses the phenomenon in this TED Talk:
Think about the different businesses you frequent and the variety of soundscapes they present. If you belong to a gym, notice how the music is upbeat and fast-paced. Because we subconsciously start moving our bodies to the beat of the music, we are motivated to work harder. You would probably not perform as well if Celine Dion ballads were playing. Fast food restaurants use more upbeat music than a traditional sit-down restaurant, simply because their goal is high turnover. On the other end of the spectrum, spas tend to use soothing, tranquil sounds to facilitate their clients’ relaxation.
The study of soundscapes in business is important. Many organizations use sound to influence the behavior of existing customers, to attract new ones or keep them around longer. Because many stores do not have doors and are open to the main concourse, an indoor shopping mall is a great place to study sound. You can walk by and hear music designed to lure their target shoppers in. Those already in the store may prolong or shorten their stay, depending on the sounds inside.
You can see why sound is an important factor to consider when developing your business’ marketing mix. Not only must you decide on a target market and determine their preferences when it comes to the products and services you sell, but you also have to think about what appeals to their basic human senses. To learn more, read “Soundscape Design 101”, Julian Treasure’s blog entry on the subject.
We suggest that you take a moment to think about other ways in which businesses’ sounds have influenced your patronage. The mix of sounds might just be more deliberate than you realize. After all, Starbucks has released compilation CDs of the music they play in their locations.
Have a wonderful, sonically pleasing day!