Crossmodal correspondences: Looking for links between sound symbolism & synaesthesia & their application to sensory marketing

Wednesday 01/06/2011 2:00pm
Location: Brunel University, LC264
Speaker: Prof. Charles Spence, Head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University

In this talk, it will be highlighted a number of case studies demonstrating the existence of a variety of robust crossmodal correspondences between both sounds (phonetic speech sounds, tones, and other parameters of musical expression), and shapes and the sensory attributes (specifically the taste, flavour, aroma, and oral-somatosensory attributes) of various foods and beverages. The available evidence now clearly suggests that marketers can enhance their consumers’ product experiences by ensuring that the sound symbolism of the brand name, as well any shape symbolism of/on the labelling, and even the very shape attributes of the packaging itself, sets up the right (i.e., congruent) product-related sensory expectations in the mind of the consumer. In this review, the rapidly-growing literature on the topic of sound and shape symbolism is critically evaluated. Potential caveats, limitations, and problems of interpretation are highlighted. The question of whether this approach to marketing should be considered as functionally subliminal is addressed. Finally, some of the relative strengths and weaknesses of this approach to modulating a consumer’s product expectations (relative to various other approaches) are considered.