If you’re a food or drinks brand, then a recent piece of gastrophysics research carried out by the University of Oxford’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory may be music to your ears!

Professor Charles Spence, who led the research, says, “Soundscapes and music come together with taste to make the whole experience more stimulating, more enjoyable and possibly even more memorable. It is a kind of digital seasoning.”

Musical food

The research has revealed that brands may be able to enhance consumers’ experience of their products simply by playing them the right tune. This could potentially have many implications in helping brands ensure their consumers experience a deeper enjoyment of their products. Here’s a couple of facts the research uncovered to whet the appetite…

Different musical genres can directly affect consumers’ experience of different cuisines in their homes.

Higher pitched music enhances sweetness and lower-pitched and brassy sounds ‘taste’ bitter. Consumers experience a greater appreciation of spicier food if accompanied by an Indie/Rock soundtrack – for instance, food was perceived as 4% spicier when enjoyed with a helping of the Arctic Monkeys as opposed to the Jazz of Nina Simone (although she’s the ideal accompaniment to Sushi apparently, with Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift being the perfect dining companions for a Thai or Chinese). And it’s not just music, but lighting too that have an effect. In the ‘out of home’ environment, in a brightly-lit restaurant or takeaway, people chose spicier chicken wings (and when the lighting is dimmed, people have an increased propensity to go for a mellow cappuccino as opposed to a strong espresso coffee).

Create the ideal playlist.

There’s a musical genre to match every cuisine – Pop goes well with Chinese, Classical enhances the tasting notes of Pasta, Indie/Rock spices up an Indian and Jazz jazzes up a Sushi. RnB, hip-hop and dance however are off the menu as they apparently have no discernible effect.

We’ll toast to that. 

The right sounds can also enhance the pleasure of drinking by as much as 15% (in fact, one champagne house uses the music of Bryan Ferry to accompany its bottles).

Here’s a tip to make brands smile.

Customers are happier to pay for their food when listening to Classical music and Jazz than if listening to pop.

So what may all of this mean for brands? It’s already rumoured that Just Eat, the online ordering company is considering providing relevant music with its food. This crossmodal knowledge can help feed our creative marketing brains – for instance, why not consider opportunities to run promotions on-pack that partner music downloads with specific food or drink products, or feature soundtracks (and even visual environments – from dark to light) online or in-store that enhance the shopper experience, influence their product choice and help them connect with brands on an unconscious, and much deeper level.

All of which provides some valuable food for thought… perhaps playing the right music can be the recipe for success!

Posted by

Jo Errington-Stevens


2nd February 2016
Great to see the fresh talent of tomorrow in force! @dandad #NewBlood18 pic.twitter.com/e3HVgoQwmV
We have an exciting #job opportunity for an Account Executive to join our Digital team in our #Newcastle office. https://t.co/dKpYTzA22v
DECIDE delivers a unique taste of the North - Design Network North https://t.co/GoOLEpJl4D