Tell me what music you listen to, I’ll tell you who you are and what you buy

audio sound branding marketing sound identity blog

Do you think you really know your target audience?

We all know that being familiar with your target audience is fundamental for any good marketing plan. It has become clear that analysis of the reference target group must focus on far more complex characteristics in terms of socio-demographic data. How can we understand our target audience better? One of the social markers that we cannot overlook is music.

A study conducted by Peter J. Rentfrow and Samuel D. Gosling at the University of Texas showed that musical preferences can reveal a person’s true identity. Data was collected on the musical interests of several thousand students and showed that there tend to be four main categories: “reflective and complex”, “intense and rebellious”, “optimistic and conventional” and “energetic and rhythmic”. Each category includes different types of music, “reflective and complex” for example covers classical, jazz, blues and folk while “optimistic and conventional” includes religious music, country and pop.

Knowing the musical preferences within these categories reveals a vast range of personality characteristics about our target, such as their open-mindedness, political orientation and verbal ability.

Still in doubt? Well another research study conducted by Adrian North, a researcher at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, was confirmation of the profound link between music and identity. It saw 35,000 people reveal their musical taste. The sample then completed a standard personality test. The results of the two tests showed the connection between the musical tastes and the personality of the people involved. Jazz fans, for example, are creative, have good self-esteem and are much more social and extrovert than fans of classical music.

Music is part of us. Already by 30 weeks, a foetus can hear and reach to sound stimuli. Sound is constantly with us, we cannot simply turn away to divert our attention as we do with sight. After the weather, musical preferences are one of the most common topics of conversation with strangers (experiment by Peter J. Rentfrow and Samuel D. Gosling). The birth of Myspace and Napster, two of the most far-sighted and important social networks, was all about music.

Music interacts with the most profound mechanisms of our brain, it transforms our emotions into language, it defines who we are. We seek it everywhere and it is part of our daily conversations.

Why not use it to communicate your brand?

Still not convinced? Just think about your PC, are you an Apple or a Microsoft person? This response will say a lot about you. And now think about the unmistakeable sounds connected to the two brands. Do you remember the start-up sounds of Microsoft Windows and Apple?

These two cases confirm the brand/music relationship and the potential of the emotional investment contributed by music.

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