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Can Catchy Jingles and Music Capture Consumer Attention during Multitasking?

Relevant topics Research, Archive

  • Neuromarketing Principle:
    Consumer visual attention is higher for TV commercials excluding jingles and background music, however consumer engagement increases when TV commercials include jingles and background music.
  • Application:
    Highly informative TV commercials that require visual attention to persuade should exclude music and jingles. When creating an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand (e.g. luxury perfumes), marketers should include music and jingles.
  • The battle for the consumer's attention is reaching a climax. Multitasking increased dramatically, especially during commercial breaks, leaving marketers questioning how to capture consumers' attention.

    Media multitasking is the most common form of media consumption today. U.S. adults spend more than 10 hours per day in front of a digital device. Furthermore, studies have shown that almost everyone is multitasking while watching TV mostly with a digital device (laptop, tablet, mobile phone), and multitasking behavior especially increased during TV commercials breaks.

    Multitasking forces consumers to divide their attention across different types of media content, resulting in lower attention for each stimulus. As a consequence, the simultaneous use of two types of media diminishes the persuasion of such messages and reduces message memory, message comprehension, and message recall and recognition. This leaves marketers wondering how they can attract and maintain consumer attention during TV commercials.

    Can Catchy Jingles and Music Capture Consumer Attention during Multitasking?

    One of the most used TV commercial assets are jingles and background music. Research showed that music in TV commercials can be used as a vehicle to convey the advertising message since it can get people more involved in advertising. Music helps listeners to better remember the commercial information. Moreover, it is not necessary to pay explicit attention to music in TV commercials, as we process music subconsciously. However, opposing theories showed that a silent segment in a TV commercial break was able to break through the clutter.

    Due to the fact that music competes with the spokesperson's voice for attention, removing music increased the recall of the TV commercial message. Evidence of the effectiveness of music in advertising is contradictory, and no previous studies have taken into account the role of media multitasking. Furthermore, prior studies tried to capture the effects of music in TV commercials with conventional research methods such as surveys and questionnaires, yet recent studies have shown that music is processed subconsciously and neuro-research methodologies provide more insights and a deeper understanding of the subconscious effects.

    A laboratory experiment was conducted to overcome these withdrawals and the remainder of this article discusses the subconscious effects of jingles and background music in TV commercials on the visual attention and engagement of consumers, during multitasking, measured with an electroencephalogram (EEG) and an eye tracker. The key findings are discussed in the following section.

    Music and jingles are processed subconsciously  

    TV commercials have many forms of sounds. Music, with or without vocals, a voice-over, small background sounds of the activities in the commercials. When consumers are multitasking, the processing of the music and jingles happens unconsciously. Consumers simply have to process too many stimuli in a multitasking environment to consciously process music and jingles.


    Excluding jingles and background music increases visual attention

    Although consciously consumers do not notice, the visual attention increases by 7% when music and jingles are excluded from the TV commercials. Due to the fact consumers have more resources available to them, it can lead to more attention towards the spokesperson, and increase their visual attention towards the TV commercials. Therefore, when visual attention is needed (e.g., for highly informative TV commercials) to process a TV commercial, excluding jingles and music can therefore increase visual attention and enhance their advertisement effectiveness. Yet, the exclusion of jingles and background music was not only advantageous...


    Jingles and background jingles increase consumer engagement  

    When TV commercials include music and jingles, consumer engagement increases. EEG data shows that consumer engagement scores were significantly higher for TV commercials that contain jingles and background music. Jingles and background music are used to create and enhance the connection with a brand. Recent studies have shown that consumers are capable of remembering music they have heard throughout their life, as well as the emotions it has triggered. Therefore when marketers advertise low involvement products, such as luxury perfumes, expensive chocolate clothing, etc., and want to create and enrich an emotional connection between the consumer and their brand, rather than convey functional benefits, we recommend including music and/or jingles in the TV commercials, as their use increases consumer engagement.

    Take-Home Points

    • Jingles and background music in TV commercials are processed unconsciously

    • Exclude jingles and background music to increase visual attention, especially useful for highly informative TV commercials 

    • Include jingles and background music to increase consumer engagement, especially useful for emotional TV commercials


    Further Reading

    • The future of music - and advertising: How brain activity seizes the hit-potential of new music.

      The future of music - and advertising: How brain activity seizes the hit-potential of new music.

      Would you have recognized the hit-potential of Dua Lipa before it was cool? Or Drake? 

      Most probably, you won’t. As you know, there’s a lot of money going round in the music industry. But the question remains how much is invested efficiently, as this can only be addressed when the song is a few weeks in the air. But what if we would have the power to predict what song will be in the charts for weeks, which everyone will be humming and thus which song is the blockbuster of the month and the cash cow of the record label?

      Recent research by Unravel Research has done exactly this. But first, let’s explain the theory behind the story. 

    • The Ultimate Psychology of Music Blog - How Background Music Can Boost Sales

      The Ultimate Psychology of  Music Blog  - How Background Music Can Boost Sales

      Just some quick fun facts. Companies spend millions of dollars to discover the perfect amount of fizz in a soda. Eating chips with headphones on makes the experience less enjoyable. And the louder the sound of a shutting car door is, the safer a consumer feels - which is why car manufacturers see this as a feature instead of a bug. 

      What do these phenomena have in common? They highlight the importance that sound has in consumer perception. But did you know that something as subtle as the sound of background music can affect your purchase decisions drastically?

      Today we will talk about how background music affects consumer behavior. Because even when you are not consciously listening to the music being played, it can still affect your buying decisions. And not just a bit, but quite dramatically! 

      Let’s look at some of the most interesting insights on how you can put music to work for you as a company.

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