Did you know that human behavior can actually be modified with the use of sound? It works very effectively. Take the “piano stairs” experiment, for instance. The first time I see this mentioned is in 2009 – but there have since been similar installations in China and India and a whole host of other places. The experiment though – and its results – are powerful. Have a look at this video for an idea of how this works:
The sounds make taking the stairs more rewarding for people. That means a lot more people take the stairs and maybe those stairs are doing their part in helping people to get that little extra bit of exercise into their day. But if you boil it down to its essence, this kind of technology – and harnessing sound to do it – changes human behavior.
Now obviously, this kind of sound manipulation – placing it in settings where it might influence people to do one task over another – can be used quite well in advertising and marketing. And it HAS.
In an article from 2015 within the APS (The Association for Psychological Science) called Background Music Influences Buying Behavior – https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/minds-business/background-music-influences-buyer-behavior.html – mention was made specifically of studies involving background music while people were purchasing items in a store or entrees in a restaurant. This kind of sound stimulation seems to more readily call to mind our associations to products, with certain types of music. And when we more easily recall the things associated with that music, recognition helps influence what we buy.
Apparently, this also happens with the type of music listened to. While Classical music is associated with “more expensive” and “more luxurious” social identity items like perfume and jewelry, Country music seems to influence people buying every-day items like toothbrushes and disposable pens to spend more on those items. Here’s a quote that sums up the point of the article:
“While background music may not convince buyers to abandon their typical preferences, this study suggests that a little attention to detail when selecting music could help retailers make a few more sales.”
It’s amazing how our brains work, isn’t it?
Background music and soundscapes can also be used to great effect in the healthcare industry. Hospitals, for instance, are typically loud. Lots of beeping, alarms, noisy machinery and conversations happen in that environment every day – and those stuck inside it – both patients and health care professionals – suffer the consequences.
It’s stressful. But research is being done into how sound could lessen that stress. It’s also being proven that soothing sounds provide a quicker healing process. There’s a great deal of research still to be done in this area, and I’ll probably talk more about it in a future blog (episode), but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
Sound is truly the quickest way to our brains. And someone who knows a lot about this, is Steve Keller. He’s one of the world’s leading experts in the field of audio branding. And his TEDx talk in Nashville a few years back, is brilliant stuff. In fact, he was just hired by Pandora US to be their Sonic Strategy Director. That certainly sounds cutting edge to me! Way to go, Pandora!
Clearly, audio branding is powerful – and Mr. Keller has an inside track. Here’s the video of his talk – and I think after watching it, you’ll agree. Watch this space (and subscribe to the podcast!) because you’ll be hearing more from Mr. Keller in future blogs and podcast episodes! He has a LOT to say about this stuff – and it’s information we all need to understand better!
Pay attention! Because there’s no mistaking it. Harnessing the power of sound, is the wave of the future.