A Sweet Voice: The Influence of Cross-Modal Correspondences Between Taste and Vocal Pitch on Advertising Effectiveness

In: Auditory Contributions to Food Perception and Consumer Behaviour
  • 1 Department of Food Management, Miyagi University, Sendai, Japan
  • 2 Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
  • 3 Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan
  • 4 International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan

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We have seen a rapid growth of interest in cross-modal correspondences between sound and taste over recent years. People consistently associate higher-pitched sounds with sweet/sour foods, while lower-pitched sounds tend to be associated with bitter foods. The human voice is key in broadcast advertising, and the role of voice in communication generally is partly characterized by acoustic parameters of pitch. However, it remains unknown whether voice pitch and taste interactively influence consumer behavior. Since consumers prefer congruent sensory information, it is plausible that voice pitch and taste interactively influence consumers’ responses to advertising stimuli. Based on the cross-modal correspondence phenomenon, this study aimed to elucidate the role played by voice pitch–taste correspondences in advertising effectiveness. Participants listened to voiceover advertisements (at a higher or lower pitch than the original narrator’s voice) for three food products with distinct tastes (sweet, sour, and bitter) and rated their buying intention (an indicator of advertising effectiveness). The results show that the participants were likely to exhibit greater buying intention toward both sweet and sour food when they listened to higher-pitched (vs lower-pitched) voiceover advertisements. The influence of a higher pitch on sweet and sour food preferences was observed in only two of the three studies: studies 1 and 2 for sour food, and studies 2 and 3 for sweet food. These findings emphasize the role that voice pitch–taste correspondence plays in preference formation, and advance the applicability of cross-modal correspondences to business.