Decoding The Music That Makes You Buy

January 4, 2022

Since the 1940s, major marketing organizations have studied various ways to appease our five senses to persuade us to buy. Today, manipulating the human mind is done in such complex ways that it has almost become an art or a tactic. Which colour stimulates the buyer’s appetite? Which perfume is most likely to get purchased based on its fragrance notes? Which song orients and leads us to a specific product? Influencing our senses has become a necessity for marketers and most of the buyers end up purchasing experiences rather than the product itself.

Let us take a trip down the memory lane and recall classic advertisements from our childhood. Can you recall any advertisements that had a catchy and memorable tune?

  • Airtel, 2011
  • Har ek friend zaruri hota hai

Airtel struck the right chord by releasing the friendship anthem for the youth “Har ek friend zaruri hota hai” depicting their social life during college days.

  • Vodafone, 2009
  • You and I in this beautiful world! Sounds blissful right?

  • Nirma, 1970s
  • Wonder how a jingle made the washing detergent- Nirma sabki pasand?

Wonder how we still have these advertisements etched in our minds after so many years?

Why do you think you liked them? Did the commercials have a catchy tune?

It is no surprise that some of the advertisements are embedded deeply in our subconscious mind. Whenever we hear an ad track playing, it triggers our emotions immediately. Likewise, when we see the advertised product in our neighbourhood, our minds will stray back to the advertisement. The individual might even end up purchasing the commodity without many thoughts.

In this article we will discuss how music can be leveraged by marketers to effectively impact branding:

  • Music and Memory
  • Music and Tempo
  • Music and Emotions
  • How can marketers harness music to impact purchasing decisions?

1.Music and Memory

Over the years neuropsychologists have proven that music can linger in the minds of a listener for a long time. Leveraging music in a commercial aids in increasing the memorability of a product in the consumer’s mind. Memorability is achieved as the music and the product are fused together in the memory. The positive relationship with the track helps the consumer comprehend and recall the product.

Better yet, whenever a marketer uses a famous song like the classic tunes, they significantly improve the recall rate of the product. The popular music will leave a lasting imprint on the audience.

For example,

  • Nokia Lumia, 2010
  • Remember how Nokia introduced the features of its new trendy phone by adding the song Everything at Once by Lenka?

  • Volkswagen, 2011
  • The creative short commercial introducing the whole new concept of “High Five” and a groovy song to memorise?
  • The success behind this advertisement lies in the perfect synchronization between Shirley Ellis’s song “The Clapping Hands” and the video scenes.

From the advertisement of age-old brand Rooh Afza that customized rendition of “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke, Yeh hai Mumbai meri jaan” to the digital ad campaign of Cadbury Dairy Milk showcasing “Saat Samundar Paar”, marketers have taken a filmy route to advertise their products. We will take a look at similar ad campaigns where marketers have leveraged Bollywood songs and stroked the right chord with the consumers.

  • TVS Scooty Pep, 2012

  • Doublemint, 2017

  • Cadbury, 2016

2.Music and Tempo

Have you ever noticed yourself exercising better when listening to upbeat songs? You are not alone. The tempo of the music is one of the most vital elements that impacts behaviour. Music can alter our time perception through tempo.

For the brain, the unit that determines the time perception is seconds which gets confused with the beat. Hence, music with rapid tempo leads to the time being judged as longer while the music with short tempo has the opposite effect. Therefore, to maximize profit, supermarkets use slow music in their premises that leads the consumer to stay for longer.

In a sensory marketing research conducted by Milliman in a supermarket, consumers spent 38% more time and approximately $5 more when the background music was slow-paced than when it was fast paced.

In contrast, another research study found that the restaurants that played fast-paced music observed an increase of 40% more spendings on alcohol than the ones who consumed alcohol with slow background music. Fast tempo songs also made the clients consume food faster which increased the turnover rate in restaurants.

3.Music and Emotions

Music is known to trigger emotions. When listening to music, our brain releases dopamine, which is a central element in our brain’s reward system. Marketers can spark customer’s interest and strengthen loyalty by triggering it. Hence, in the presence of music, customers are overtaken by positive emotions and thus evaluate the merchandise in a positive light, perceive the company as being more friendly and are likely to purchase more.

It is not just any type of tune or music. A research study measured reactions of 1000 Australian consumers to a series of audio clips and found different types of tunes elicited strong yet different emotional reactions.

Different melodies, chords, and notes in songs can elicit varied emotional responses. Strings, playing short and sharp notes, were found to elicit feelings of excitement and happiness in 87% of respondents. A shift from major to minor keys provoked a sense of sadness in 83% of the people; and 90% found acoustic guitar sound to be calm and caring.

Hence, marketers can effectively choose an appropriate music for their product and brand that aligns with the message and reinforces the message.

4.Music and Branding

In these ad-cluttered times, user engagement has become the new standard for effective marketing and communication. To stimulate active engagement, organizations need to communicate in a way that is relevant to their audience. This is where branding through music comes into play. When utilised strategically, music becomes a part of the customer-brand interaction. It plays a crucial role in social media engagement by seeking attention and inspiring conversation through music, thus leading to a positive brand image.

Successful brands no longer sell products or services, they sell experiences. Interaction with a brand sensationally engages the user on various levels. Harnessing music to establish an emotional connection with the product increases brand recognition. Music and tunes tend to grab attention that the brands need to win.

By choosing to associate the brand with a musical selection that reinforces the core values and goals, the marketer would align the business emotionally with like-minded customers and inspire the emotional connection with the brand that would foster advocacy, commitment and brand loyalty.

5.How can marketers harness music to impact purchasing decisions?

Music has been widely known to impact sales in a variety of ways because unconscious listening is as efficient as conscious listening.

Background music helps to successfully lower customers’ guard, ensuring that they will be more receptive to eventual purchases. This has been rooted in the evolutionary fact that the human brain has a primitive fear of silence which was crucial to survival during prehistoric times.

Here’s how a marketer can leverage music to better connect and enhance the customer experience:

  • Establishing the message and selecting a music/tune that resonates with the target audience

The first step is to identify how you want the target audience to feel. It is also essential to identify the musical preferences of the audience. If they lean towards Indian classical, it is unlikely that Electronic Dance Music (EDM) will strike a chord with them. It is also vital to establish a link between the message of the product/brand and the music.


  • Appeal to the subconscious and evoke emotions

Humans process sound faster than any other sensory input. Even our sense of sight takes longer to produce a reaction to a stimulus than sound does. Music can be a powerful tool to connect people with the product/brand at a subconscious level and evoke emotions.

  • Look for trends and capitalize on them

Two recent developments that compliment the music and branding well are:

-Firstly, screens are no longer dominating the means to interact with devices, audio is making a comeback. Voice assistants and smart speakers are growing in popularity which would increase the demand for advertising that includes music and tunes.

-Secondly, brands are increasingly utilising music to enhance user experience. Today, there is a greater degree of interaction between the marketing department and music producers to promote the brand.

Amy Crawford explains, “As our experiences with brands become far more interactive and immersive, it’s important to consider how a sonic identity can scale across everything a brand is doing.”

A marketer must establish an aim to prime a popular song or an artist with the product/brand. This would generate great brand recall and recognition, and firmly entrench the product/brand and the organization in the minds of the target customers.

For example, the tune that has been synonymous with mobiles for years is Airtel’s instrumental tune composed by renowned singer A.R. Rahman.

6.Does the future hold any prospects for online musical marketing?

Online shopping has grown rapidly and has gained broad acceptance by users. According to recent statistics, the online shopping market size nearly hit 4 trillion in 2020. Because the online market has become very competitive, marketers are seeking innovation as their vital strategy to capture the user’s attention. Interestingly, researchers have now dwelled into investigating the effects of music on online shopping.

In a research study, 210 participants were engaged in a timed online shopping simulation and were expose to one of the three conditions:

  • No music
  • Slow tempo music
  • Fast tempo music

The results of the study indicated that fast and slow tempo music led to more efficient evaluation and shopping experience.


As we have seen, music in advertisements or for branding is a vital ingredient. It is the ambrosia for business. The right choice of music, at the right time can make consumers feel more inclined to engage in impulsive purchasing, spend more money or time in a supermarket. It helps to increase memorability, entertainment and establishes authority of a product. The marketer must be aware of the blend of a perfect environment – for both its customers and business to blend well together.

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