Young adults prefer tuning-in to brands with a sonic identity

sonic branding

One in three adults under the age of 35 (33%) feel more favourable towards brands with a sonic identity than those without, according to a ground-breaking new study commissioned by DLMDD, the audio branding agency.

The research, which was conducted by YouGov, lifts the lid on the purchasing power of sound within brand marketing, further revealing that almost 1 in 5 adults under 35 years (18%) are more inclined to actually choose or buy a product or brand with a sonic identity than one without. 

With over 14 million adults in Britain under the age of 35, the use of audio presents a significant market opportunity for brands.

YouGov sonic survey

The survey of over 2,000 adults from across Britain found significant differences in attitudes towards sound within marketing amongst different age groups, with the younger generations more favourable towards brands that use sound as a core part of their architecture, than those from older age groups.

sonic reseaerch dlmdd

According to the research: 

  • 1 in 5 (20%) adults feel more favourable towards brands with a sonic identity than towards those without
  • Whereas 1 in 3 (33%) adults under 35 years feel more favourable towards brands with a sonic identity than towards those without
  • Almost 1 in 5 (18%) adults under 35 years are more inclined to choose or buy a product or brand with a sonic identity than one without

Adults under the age of 35 years span both the Millennial and Gen Z groups, both of which hold enormous economic power when you consider the combined consumer spend of both of these generations.

According to the Experian Spending Power Index 2019, Millennials make up a third of the UK population, and with many in this group owning their own home, starting families, and taking on senior positions at work, the millennial pound is going from strength to strength.

Meanwhile, in 2020 Gen Z accounted for 40% of global consumers and today it has become one of the fastest growing consumer markets for brands. 

Shaped by the smartphone, Gen Z have grown up with a level of connectivity and information that other generations haven’t seen before, bringing with it the influence of more diverse and tech-enabled media consumption, including audio.

Sound and brand recall

Max De Lucia, co-founder of DLMDD, said: “While there have been a number of studies that look at the relationship between sound and brand recall, this research is the first to explore how sound can actually influence consumer choice and spending. 

“When you think about the size of population we are talking about, it is hugely significant that 1 in 3 adults under 35 prefer brands with a sonic identity to those without, while 1 in 5 would actually be more inclined to choose or buy those products or brands, even more so when you consider all the other factors that come into play when making a consumer choice.

Millennials and Gen Z

“Millennials and Gen Z are a powerful economic force that consume a far more diverse range of media than older generations, allowing brands to deploy more sensory and interactive marketing tools, including music and sound. 

“Looking to the future, this demographic will be the driving force of the global economy and is therefore a crucial market for brands to target. 

“And with sound already playing a part in their consumer choices, now is the time for brands to make sound a core ingredient of their architecture.”

Professor Charles Spence, Experimental Psychologist at The University of Oxford, added: “Audio branding is finally coming of age, in part driven by the rise of voice-activated devices and in part due to a growing realisation that it is possible to connect more effectively with consumers by engaging them with their ears and not just their eyes. 

“This survey highlights the increased engagement with sonic brand identity is especially pronounced amongst younger consumers – those under 35 years of age.”

Sonically famous brands

As part of the study, respondents were also asked to indicate from a list of brands which they associated with having their own sonic identity. 

The McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ it’ whistle topped the list, followed by Coca Cola’s bottle opening & fizz and Netflix’s ‘Ta-dum’. The full list of brands in order of the most to least widely recognised sonic identity, is as follows:

  1. McDonald’s       
  2. Coca Cola 
  3. Netflix               
  4. Disney               
  5. Intel      
  6. Apple                
  7. Audi      
  8. O2                     
  9. Aldi       
  10. Mastercard        

When asked to name any other brands with a recognisable sonic identity from those provided, the most referenced brand name cited by respondents was Asda.