Influence of Music on Purchase Intention: The Hotspex Case

By Kaylee Boulton and Erin Shanahan


Article Written By:

Kaylee Boulton and Erin Shanahan


Previous research from behavioral science has revealed that music can impact human moods and bring about certain behavioral changes. For example, one study demonstrated that integrating popular music into advertisements can have positive effects for attention and memory. Consumers were assigned to listen to radio advertisements which either included no music, an instrumental version of popular music, or popular music with vocals. Ads which included popular music with vocals increased attention to and recall of the brand being advertised relative to ads with instrumental music or no music, particularly if the music was viewed as personally significant.

The effects of music extend beyond garnering attention. Behavioral science has shown that characteristics of music like pitch, tempo, volume, texture, and familiarity can influence customers' product evaluations, purchase intentions, and behaviors, with a key factor being the genre or style of the music (e.g., classical, pop, hip hop, and country).

The concept of music congruity (fit between the music used and the ad/product/brand) is also important. Music which is congruent with the product, brand image, and/or advertising context it’s used in has greater potential to influence consumers’ purchase intentions, brand attitudes, and ultimately behavior. It is also important to note that if the mood the music evokes is congruent with the customer's current mood, purchase intention is increased compared to when it is incongruent with the customer’s mood. For example, if happy music is playing and the customer's mood is also positive, the purchase intent of the customer increases. These studies have repeatedly reiterated that background music (in commercials and retail stores) has a significant impact on a person's emotional responses and perceptions.

Hotspex and TikTok

TikTok is an extremely popular platform amongst Gen Z, with around 1 billion active users in total. In a recent study, TikTok found that 88% of its users consider music an integral part of their app experience. It was also found that adding music to advertisements uplifts the emotional state of the user, such that ads with music get a 9% higher likeability as compared to non-sound ads. Similarly, users are 15% more likely to skip an off-sound ad than an on-sound one because the music appeals to their emotions and gives them a reason to watch the entire ad.

At Hotspex, we partner with our clients to pilot and deploy innovative solutions to uncover insights that drive growth and long-term brand equity. And we believe TikTok is one of the major channels for advertising your brand. In a recent partnership between Hotspex and TikTok, it was found that ads with recognizable songs were liked 5% more than ads with other music types and significantly increased the user's purchase intent of the corresponding brand.

On the other hand, brand tailor-made music tracks (tracks that were congruent in musical characteristics and included the brand name) generated the most customer interest with the ad and achieved more track clicks (7% more than recognizable songs and 10% more than instrumental music). In our recent Practical Behavioral Scientist segment, we discussed the principle of cross modal correspondences that explains how our mind inherently relates sound and visual objects. Brand coherence can be achieved by touching corresponding sensory modalities and delivering consistent emotional and sensory brand experiences. Thus, brands should consider music congruity when selecting tracks for their communication strategies, as well as how music works to build certain associations.


To summarize, different characteristics of music affect customers’ perceptions of the product and brand by eliciting emotional responses. Brands can use music to their advantage to influence their customers’ minds and build their brand. At Hotspex, we help brands to align with their right space, boost their sales, and tap into the psychology of their customers’ minds to influence their perceptions about their brands. We can help you crack your brand-building challenges by applying our proprietary human motivation framework. In our Practical Behavioral Scientist segments, we provide a fundamental understanding of cognitive biases that helps brand builders identify and leverage these biases to expand their brand value.


Allan, D. (2006). Effects of popular music in advertising on attention and memory. Journal of Advertising Research, 46(4), 434-444.

Barrett, F. S., Grimm, K. J., Robins, R. W., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., & Janata, P. (2010). Music-evoked nostalgia: affect, memory, and personality. Emotion, 10(3), 390.

North, A. C., Sheridan, L. P., & Areni, C. S. (2016). Music congruity effects on product memory, perception, and choice. Journal of Retailing, 92(1), 83-95.

Oakes, S. (2007). Evaluating empirical research into music in advertising: A congruity perspective. Journal of Advertising Research, 47(1), 38-50.