Nothing Says Holidays Quite Like Music

Eric Suliga, Creative Director

Music is magical. It has the power to change and affect our moods. It has the power to both divide and unite. It can tell stories and preserve history. It can even define a generation.

During the holidays, music does all of this and more. Holiday music not only symbolizes the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also our constant companion for most, if not all, of our holiday pastimes - from shopping to wrapping presents, to baking or entertaining. (Just ask our listeners who spent over 115 MILLION hours listening to Pandora on Christmas Eve and Christmas day last year.)[1]

But what role does music play for brands during the holiday season? Is it enough to just throw on Frank Sinatra’s Holiday album in-store or have Silent Night playing in the background of your video ad? Can music help connect brands to their target consumers?

Music Enhances the Consumer Experience

Every year we survey our listeners about their holiday habits and every year they tell us that music is critical for a successful holiday season. In our most recent survey, 7 in 10 of our listeners said that music is one of the most important ingredients for the holidays, outranking food, gifts and even decorations. But even more important for brands, listeners say the holiday advertisements that are most likely to capture their attention are either funny (73%) or feature good music (62%).[2]
But how do brands use holiday music to enhance the customer experience and not detract from it, especially for those consumers who don’t celebrate Christmas? What rationale goes into playing holiday music either in stores or in digital ads? Should any and all brands be playing holiday music during this time of the year?

“Music is the tie that binds you to any [retail] experience,” explains Danny Turner, Global Senior Vice President of Creative Programming at Mood Media. “For some reason, we believe once the holidays come along, we all start interjecting Jingle Bells into everything that we do. I don’t think that that’s the wrong strategy IF and only IF it’s brand appropriate for you. When it comes to holiday music, to thine own self be true. Never stray away from what your brand value proposition is.”

Retailers especially want to ensure that they are providing an experience for their customers, and music has the power to make or break that experience.

“When you walk into a retail establishment, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to see...anything that is displayed at point of purchase, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to see banners and callouts, or anything else… But one thing that you can be guaranteed is they’re going to hear what’s going on when they come in,” says Turner. “One of the biggest mistakes that business owners can make right now is not to have a [music] strategy for their in-store environment.”

Ultimately, rediscovering the importance of a human connection is key to all effective marketing, no matter the channel, device or location. And there’s nothing that connects people more than music-- especially during the holidays.

Create Connections Through Audio

Where audio consumption was once relegated to a transistor radio set, today’s listeners have so many choices for indulging in their favorite music, podcasts and radio programs. In fact, audio-centric technologies and products are in high demand, with 40% of Pandora listeners saying they planned to purchase a speaker, headphones or other audio or voice-activated device last holiday season - a number we expect will increase this year.[3]
With an unprecedented number of options for listening to audio, consumers have also been able rethink their expectations of the services that provide it. Streaming audio, in particular, has opened the door to a personalized media revolution where consumers now expect to get what they want, when they want, on the device/s that they’re currently using - whether that be a smartphone, connected car or Alexa product.

This ubiquity of connected, screenless devices are only making audio even more important for brands. As the desire for audio products and voice-activated devices increases, so too does our exposure to audio. Unsurprisingly, we found that music is the #1 activity that consumers are using their connected home devices for. Therefore, embracing an audio strategy now will likely be a key advantage for brands as this screenless world becomes more and more of a reality. As 2018 quickly approaches, ask yourself: How will your brand capture attention in audio? What will your call-to-action be without a screen? How will consumers be able to identify your brand without seeing a logo?

Turner further breaks down the importance of having a music strategy for brands in our latest Power of Audio podcast: “Because of the incredible emotional and evocative power of music, when it is aligned properly with a brand, what music does is put you in the mood to interact with that brand. That interaction may come in the form of a purchase, it may come in the form of a longer dining experience, but moreover, it comes in the form of an affinity for that brand and the identification on the part of the consumer that ‘Hey - this brand gets me!’”

For holiday marketers, in particular, getting started on an audio strategy - whether in-store or digital or both - will allow you to be in the ears of consumers throughout the holiday season and beyond, connecting with tech savvy consumers when it matters most.

Listen in to the latest episode of our Power of Audio podcast to learn even more about creating a holiday music strategy.

Want even more consumer holiday shopping trends? Download our 2017 Holiday Shopping Trends eBook.

Source: 1. Pandora Internal Metrics, November 2017 2. Pandora Soundboard, Holiday Study, November 2016 3. Pandora Soundboard, Holiday Study, November 2016