Special Session: Music in Ads, Stores and Homes


M. Elizabeth Blair and James Kellaris (1993) ,"Special Session: Music in Ads, Stores and Homes", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 558.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, 1993      Page 558


M. Elizabeth Blair, Ohio University

James Kellaris, University of Cincinnati

The objective of this special session was to examine a variety of perspectives on the uses of music in marketing.

Randy Rose discussed his work with Terry Shimp on the use of music as a background stimulus in retail environments. They wanted to see if they could reproduce the large effect sizes that were reported by Milliman, when he varied the tempo of background music in a grocery and a restaurant. They varied both the tempo and the style of music. In one study, conducted at the factory outlet stores, the presence of music, either soft rock or contemporary background, was found to have no significant effect on sales. In a zoo gift shop, music treatments did produce greater sales than the non-music treatments, with slow music producing higher sales than fast music. The mood of the employees as a result of the music was thought to influence sales. At the zoo, for instance, the employees preferred music to no music. Randy concluded that several other variables including store location, clientele, and day of week were found to moderate the effects of background music on shopping behavior.

Bob Kent presented his work with James Kellaris on how the objective properties of music, such as pitch and tempo, influence consumers' affective responses. Their conceptual model has four components: objective stimulus properties, moderators, mediators and outcomes. Objective properties of music include time related variables (e.g. tempo, meter, duration, rhythm), pitch related variables (e.g. mode, melody, harmony) and texture related variables (e.g. timbre, loudness). Listener characteristics, such as gender, age, extent of musical training, musical tastes and cultural conditioning constitute the moderating variables. Subjective properties of music (e.g. pleasantness, arousingness, novelty, complexity) are the proposed mediators. Outcomes include affective, cognitive and behavioral responses. Through experimentation, they found that time and pitch attributes influence listeners' feelings but they appear to operate through different mechanisms.

Linda Scott's work emphasizes the fact that a musical piece should not be separated from its' cultural context. She discussed how changes in technology and a marketing emphasis within the music industry have led to the unprecedented importance of "popular" music. The ability to record music has led to a great deal of cross-cultural sharing, not only from country to country but from marginalized groups to mainstream society. Linda discussed the use of music to represent social subgroups in a dialogic form within narrative, a concept known as heteroglossia. An example of this occurs in a Pepsi commercial featuring rap-dance star Hammer, in which someone inadvertantly hands him a Coke. He stops rapping and starts to sing "Feelings" in "lounge lizard" style. Finally, someone hands him a Pepsi and he goes back to dancing and rapping, much to the audience's relief. In this commercial, music is used to represent a social "in-group" (youthful rappers) and a social "out-group" (older, white, unhip culture) specifically by reproducing the sounds they make.



M. Elizabeth Blair, Ohio University
James Kellaris, University of Cincinnati


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20 | 1993

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