Music, Moods and Marketing

Christmas is over and everyone – me as well – is waiting anxiously to celebrate the New Year. The last few days I enjoyed Christmas cookies, a lot of family time, and Christmas songs being played all day long.

I am actually always looking forward to the day the first Christmas song is played on the radio or  the first holiday commercial is shown on TV. One of my favorite commercials is this one:

Every time I hear that song I get a feeling of warmth and gleeful anticipation. It is really one of my favorite Christmas songs. This year Coca-Cola has also put great effort into finding a new Christmas song that could match their success of the last years and with “Shake up Christmas” they did a good job in my opinion.

So what I started asking myself was why it was so important for Coca-Cola to find a good song and what role music actually plays in marketing products. Does it help selling products and influence consumers, or is it only a nice way of adding some life to an otherwise dull commercial, mall or restaurant?

Adding that special “Spark”

To answer this question, Jeremy Clark did some research and found several studies that proved that music has a “relaxing and stimulating effect on the behavior of people”. This is why music can be used e.g. in offices, increasing the productivity of employees by reducing their level of stress. William Green actually summarized the effect music can have on employees in one simple sentence:

Music is a friend of labor for it lightens the task by refreshing the nerves and spirit of the worker

So if music can improve the productivity of employees, can it also help selling products?

Well, I actually thought about that question – if music has, in any way, influenced my former buying behavior. And a great example would probably be a restaurant in the heart of Berlin I frequently go to. It does not only have a nice interior design and warm atmosphere but also plays music I really much enjoy listening to. When I go there with friends I often catch myself humming to the music or tapping my feet to the beat. As Norman Elias describes it,  music sets the mood for the guest and the mood determines if the customer has a positive or negative experience (= and therefore returns or not).

Most surprisingly, studies have shown that music can also “affect the way in which we perceive flavor”. Adrian North let people taste different wines when listening to different kinds of music and then let them rate what they tasted. What the participants subconsciously did was rating the wines according to the music they had heard e.g. powerful and heavy or subtle and refined.

So being an owner of a restaurant you should most carefully evaluate the right type of music. What should also be considered is the clientage that you want to attract and what kind of food you are serving as this all adds to the atmosphere and perception the guest has of the restaurant. Ruled out should be no music, as it is proven that guest get the feeling of being overheard when there is no music playing in the background and most likely will not return.

Music, malls & other markets

There are many more examples of how music influences the buying mood of customers like the music that is played in a mall, department store or supermarket. Think of a big mall during Christmas. Is is not a way more pleasant experience buying Christmas presents with Christmas tunes in the background? As Jeremy Clark writes “the music invites to the spirit of the season”. It keeps you entertained while looking for the last present to buy or the latest fashion to marvel at.

To conclude, music does – in some way or another – affect everyone of us. A lot of times it is subconsciously and we do not really realize it. But having in mind that it can be a powerful marketing tool, we should not underestimate the effects it can have on people.

Leave a comment


  1. juliajogs

     /  December 28, 2011

    Another great post of yours! I am always fascinated what impact sensory stimuli have on human beings. I like your personal experience that you added to your post. I think that gives your post a lot of credibility.

  2. Hi Saskia,
    looks like you did some serious research before you wrote your post. Is this not just great how music influences and empowers people? I am that kind of a person who likes it when some music is playing while I do my shopping or as I wait for my food in the restaurant. Music has some power in it that influences people just as you have mentioned in your post.
    To your question of whether music help to sell products, I will say yes. I frequently go to Bershka and do my shopping there because of the kind of music they play. At times I find myself dancing to the beats.
    The fanta advertisement is also another example of a commercial which uses music to help sell its products.

  3. Marius

     /  February 11, 2012

    Hi Saskia,
    I found Ly’s blog on the music app and I saw that she referenced to your post because it is also about music. I already told her but now I can tell you as well that music is very important to me especially in my daily life. I have made exactly that experience you talked about when music kept me from coming back to a bar or restaurant.
    Concernign the structure you chose I can only say that it was a good idea to go from commercials over to marketing in general since we all watch commercials but are not very familiar with marketing.
    In our blog, we also write about marketing and I think you made a good point with your post.
    The only thing that could still be improved is the length of your paragraphs. You might want to shorten them a liitle bit more.
    Maybe you would also be interested in how musicians do marketing which is explained in this video:

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