January 16th, 2014 By Jack Morton
As Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer pointed out, “There are no earlids.” Since that’s the case, and hearing is such an integral part of the human experience, why is it that sound is so often an afterthought?
Sound causes a powerful cognitive and emotional response in humans – it is integral to our survival, after all. A chord can bring us to tears, the 8-bit music of a Gameboy can make us ache for our childhood (yes, I am a young man). We are constantly bombarded by noise, especially in built up environments, and our brains are fantastically adept at filtering through them and choosing which ones deserve a response.
The power of this interaction in the retail space is staggering – a 1998 study by Adrian North, David Hargreaves and Jennifer McKendrick showed that in a bottle shop (liquor store or off-licence for you non-Aussie folk), playing either French or German music drastically affected the sales of French and German wines. This lesson, however, translates across all mediums of communication.
Nike does a fantastic job of leveraging this interaction. For example, their 2013 installation ‘The Art + Science of Feeling’ was an interactive experience that used the brains reactions to different sensory stimulation to trigger auditory responses. Understanding that real time auditory feedback would stimulate a highly intimate response, the activation was very effective at showing how the new Hyperfeel shoe allows our bodies to connect to the environment.
This is the exception though, not the rule. Sadly sound (and I don’t mean narration or library music) is often overlooked as a vehicle to communicate with our audiences. So in our world of designing experiences where the brand is a verb, the way people sonically connect is definitely worth a thought.
Up next – smells!