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Sounds Appealing

Sounds is the forgotten spice. In this episode we delve into the way that sound affects perceptions of brands and product experiences. Guests Maxime Goulet, Michael Lowe and Charles Spence provide useful examples.

Run Time: 30 minutes

Sound is one of the most powerful consumer senses. It affects the brain in more ways than we imagine. It can actually change our perception of our other senses. In the latest episode of The Findings Report Podcast we explore this very dimension, and how marketers can target the ears to make favorable perceptions and drive satisfaction.

Professor Michael Lowe shares findings from a study he co-authored with Kelly Haws and recently published in the Journal of Marketing Research. In their experiments they uncovered a strong connection between acoustic pitch and consumer perceptions of product size.

Then, composer Maxime Goulet and Oxford Professor Charles Spence share their independent but connected work on the curious connection between sound and taste. We discover how to hear chocolate and how to apply sonic seasoning to food.


Maxime Goulet

Deeply fascinated and inspired by the connections between different forms of artistic expression, Maxime Goulet works within various realms of musical creation ranging from symphonic music to video games, with some chocolate adventures along the way. He scored more than 25 video games such as Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade, Roller Coaster Tycoon World, The Amazing Spider-Man, Dungeon Hunter-I, II, III, IV, Shrek Forever After, Brothers in arms 2: Global Front and Brothers in Arms 3: Sons of War. His classical music compositions, such as Symphonic Chocolates and United Anthems, have been performed on four continents, by leading ensembles such as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Métropolitain, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the National Art Center Orchestra and the Houston Symphony Orchestra.

Michael Lowe

Michael Lowe joined the Scheller faculty as an Assistant Professor of Marketing in August of 2015. He holds a BA in Music from Brigham Young University, an MBA in marketing and strategy from Indiana University, and a PhD in Business Administration from Texas A&M University. He also has professional experience in international marketing, human resources, and retail management.

Dr. Lowe maintains two distinct active research streams: interpersonal influence and sensory marketing. His research on interpersonal influence explores how consumer interactions influence decisions and behavior, with a particular interest in real behavior in consumer dyads. Specific projects in this area involve, for instance, how selfishness or altruism change joint decisions, how “parallel” self-control decisions affect consumer affiliation and self-regulation, how social companionship influences pain of payment, and how relationships affect interpersonal gift giving. Drawing on his music background, Dr. Lowe also researches the role of sound in marketing media and retail spaces, focusing on the influence of specific sonic attributes as they alter consumer perceptions. His work has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing Research.

Dr. Lowe has taught Consumer Behavior and Principles of Marketing and was recently recognized as Scheller Professor of the Year for his role in the classroom.

Charles Spence

Professor Charles Spence is a world-famous experimental psychologist with a specialization in neuroscience-inspired multisensory design. He has worked with many of the world’s largest companies across the globe since establishing the Crossmodal Research Laboratory (CRL) at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University in 1997. Prof. Spence has published over 800 articles and edited or authored, 10 academic volumes including, in 2014, the Prose prize-winning “The perfect meal”, and “Gastrophysics: The new science of eating” (2017; Penguin Viking). Much of Prof. Spence’s work focuses on the design of enhanced multisensory food and drink experiences, through collaborations with chefs, baristas, mixologists, perfumiers, and the food and beverage, and flavour and fragrance industries. Prof. Spence has also worked extensively on the question of how technology will transform our dining experiences in the future.

Be sure to watch this video on Sensploration by Dr. Spence:

Show Credits


The Findings Report theme song was composed by Daniel Munkus

Symphonic Chocolates was composed by Maxime Goulet, and excerpts from the suite were provided courtesy of Mr. Goulet.

Other music heard in this episode:


  • Transcription: Lydia Ward
  • Production Support: Amanda White


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