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For a few brands that are turning up the sensory side of their customer experience, what you see isn't necessarily all you get....

What you hear may be part of what you get, too.
Certainly, youth-oriented brands have long-since known the power of including just the right tune in their ad campaigns, but the women's market may finally be getting its due on this front. From ring tones, to on-hold music to what's playing in retail stores or possibly as background music on web sites, and, of course, television ads, sounds are everywhere. Traditionally those sounds may have been nothing more than an afterthought. But, companies like baby-clothier, The Tea Collection, as well as, oddly enough, the AARP, are taking control of the sonic identity of their brands.
The Tea Collection, a very high-end children's clothing retailer considers its end-consumers to be: "Little Citizens of the World." In keeping with that theme, they recently released a CD of Lullabies. The selection of songs was very carefully identified and compiled by Rumblefish, a music identity agency about which I've written before. After interviewing the folks at Tea, noting the brand's traditional attributes and then digging a little deeper, the Rumblefish team headed back to their independent music collection to come up with a broad selection of global lullabies. The CD includes Ugandan, Creole, Native American, Romanian and Guadeloupian, among others, in sleep-lulling tunes for infants. (Sample the sounds here.)
This is not your mother's nursery rhyme LP, mind you, but a very sophisticated compilation for the types of moms that buy Tea apparel for their children. It is music that integrates with the overall brand so well, it just enhances the customer experience for the women who have, or who aspire to, the Tea lifestyle.
The AARP, representing those much later years in a person's life, is newly striving to present an integrated, multi-sensory brand front, as well. New York Times columnist, Stuart Elliott, wrote earlier this week (reg. required), about how DMI Music and Media Solutions is helping the association discover and use the sounds that "fit" their growing Boomer-era American membership.
But, what does all this have to do with the women's market, you ask?
Women, on average, have superior hearing. Socio-anthropologist and author of The First Sex (among others), Helen Fisher, noted the auditory gender differences this way: women are more sensitive to loud noises, where men tend to prefer music and spoken words at a much louder level. (Now, I get why my dad always cranked the classical music to eardrum bursting level when I was a kid...)
The reasons women developed this advanced hearing capability? "An ancestral woman needed superb hearing to rear her precious packet of DNA, her child." And, "her excellent auditory sense probably also roused her to protect her child - by igniting her feelings."
So, sonic identity doesn't have to be loud to make an impression on women, and, all the while, marketers have more opportunity to ignite feelings using it. Hmmm.
Music seems to be making a comeback - as it gets much more interwoven within a brand and its marketing messages. If women are your key customers, are you "listening in" to this yet?
P.S. I'm doing research for an article on independent music licensing - which should really help even the smallest of businesses start to develop branded music identities. (This is exciting - "power to the people and the independent artists" stuff!) I'll let you know when that publishes - and when my own, carefully selected, Learned On Women song debuts. ;-)

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image of Andrea Learned
Andrea Learned is a noted author, blogger, and expert on gender-based consumer behavior. Her current focus is on sustainability from both the consumer and the organizational perspectives. Andrea contributes to the Huffington Post and provides sustainability-focused commentary for Vermont Public Radio.