In-store audio marketing can encourage consumer engagement and influence buying decisions. When combined with music, the resulting marriage of technology and emotion is especially powerful. Point-of-sale (POS) displays for music are as old as the compact disc (CD). However, the challenges that today’s media companies and retailers face endure. For example, POS displays need to provide high-quality sound in a low-cost but reliable module. Retailers don’t want to carry excess inventory. In addition, media companies don’t want to lose sales because of long lead times, high shipping costs, or challenges with customization. 

Interactive Displays and Purchasing Decisions

In-Store Audio Marketing

Servicing a Legacy Audio Display

Mood Entertainment, a division of Mood Media, produces and distributes specialty music sold by retailers through interactive displays. Mood is the successor to Somerset Entertainment, a Canadian subsidiary of the Allegro Music Group that put the sounds of nature to music. When Allegro’s Troy Cockriell was tasked with replacing the company’s permanent interactive displays, the busy executive looked at all of the numbers. He knew that retailers wanted a low-cost and disposable display. Especially for short-lived holiday sales, but not at the expense of sound quality.

Research showed that in-store shoppers who listened to a music sample were 400% more likely to buy the CD. Cockriell treated this metric as a guiding principle and searched for a solution on-line. He found Voice Express, a leader in interactive print media (IPM), and challenged the Fairfield, Connecticut company to create increasingly complex audio samples, starting with the Solitudes series created by Somerset’s founder, a world famous nature recorder and inventor of The Dan Gibson Parabolic Microphone.   

After visiting Geoffrey Stern, the founder and CEO of Voice Express, Cockriell placed a low-volume order. The initial program was such a success that more retailers committed to using the new in-store audio marketing. Voice Express then faced a series of new challenges.

Media Enhanced Published on a Global Scale

Replacing Allegro’s permanent in-store displays was a complex global project. These existing modules were deployed in stores around the world and combined excellent audio and high-quality speakers with a sturdy housing. Yet, shoppers could break these POS displays by hitting, kicking, or just touching them. Repairing them was expensive and producing them was costly. Plus, these modules were heavy. That meant they were expensive to ship and difficult to dispose of. Voice Express seemed to offer a complete solution, but there were business and technical hurdles.   

A cardboard housing that was lightweight, inexpensive to produce, and easy to liquidate helped. The use of a CD playback device and then Sandisk memory cards added value. The speaker that Voice Express supplied was small but powerful and the disposable battery would last until all of the CDs at a POS display had been sold. Because Cockriell was concerned about Voice Express’ ability to meet growing demand, he traveled to Hong Kong and met with the electronics provider himself. Satisfied with what he learned, he agreed to buy higher volumes and have them shipped by boat to North America.

In-Store Audio Marketing & Next-Generation Solutions

In-Store Audio Marketing

This model was strong, but the lead times were too long as the media company began projecting sales even before individual retailers specified a mix of music. The solution was for Voice Express to air-ship its cartridges to Cockriell’s company, where they would be programmed in order to meet custom demand. The relationship with retailers strengthened further, because the technology was significantly more reliable and better-sounding than the competition’s. Retailers liked how it reduced inventory risk, too. 

Today, Voice Express continues to shape the future of marketing with products like Voice Express Connect™, Connect™ Point of Sales, and Connect™ After Sale. Whether you’re a media company or a retailer, you’ll appreciate the power of voice search. Especially during this touch-less time of COVID-19. Visit our website to learn more or contact us to discuss your application.   

Project Summary

Product packaging and first impressions are important. For brands like Intel whose, integrated circuits are unseen by the end-user, captivating attention and forming a good impression at points of interaction are especially important.

Intel contacted us and asked if we could help develop a package for a new product that would deliver their iconic “bong” sound. We were thrilled at the idea, instantly recognizing the inherent potential to add tremendous “first-impression” value to their marketing and branding efforts.

The results of this launch were so encouraging that Intel is exploring more ways to animate packaging, sales collateral, and instruction manuals with branding audio.

Reaction & Reception

Feedback on the audio packaging from the targeted user groups, represented by the “unboxing” community was overwhelmingly positive if not outright delighted.

Below are a few examples of unboxers from around the world commenting on the audio packaging. Note the unscripted reaction of the first video in particular.

And, in-print around the Web, comments like this:

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the NUC’s size that we first noticed during our unboxing. No, it was something far more subtle, yet oddly appealing. We typically don’t cover packaging in our reviews (unless it sucks so bad that it warrants coverage) because, quite frankly, it’s boring. So why the quick exception in this case? Intel forced our hand by hiding a light-controlled sound module in the retail packaging. When you slide the container out of the box, Intel’s familiar jingle plays loud and clear. It seems silly, but it catches you completely by surprise, putting you into an Intel frame of mind. Well played, chipzilla. Source:

After tearing the shrinkwrap from the box in a state of fevered anticipation, we were astonished to hear, as we slid the two parts of the box apart, the familiar Intel Inside jingle ring out: “bing-bong-bing-bong”. It’s marketing gone completely mad, but still – it gave us a bit of a laugh. Source:

Challenges Overcome

The greatest challenge was time. We were contacted two months before the launch. For the most part, their packaging had already been designed and quoted. Production was about to begin. We initially suggested they utilize a magnetic switch hidden in the tray because of its minimally invasive nature and ease-of-application with its current packaging.

We were able to provide a sample of the magnetic switch overnight and get it to the marketing and roll-out teams for their review. In the meantime, we contacted two factories that we work with. Because of the potential volumes, we felt it was important that there be at least two independent sources of supply in the supply chain.

As the process progressed, Intel decided that it was worthwhile to change their packaging, so that we could use a lower-cost light switch instead of a magnet switch. We had our factories in China work directly with RR Donnelley Asia; their packaging factory, to make sure that the process went as quickly, as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible.

This is something that only we could do because we’ve been working in this field for over 15 years. We were successful in giving them a solution and executing the solution in time for the first shipment of this first product.


Voice Express was asked by its long time partner; Build-A-Bear Workshop®, to develop a digitally programmed Universal Sound (UM) module. In conjunction with the development of a Digital HearMe Sound Station, the UM brings numerous business benefits by reducing the number of SKUs to be maintained, reducing time to market for new sounds, and improving personalization though the record-your-own sound capabilities. Ultimately the UM and Digital HearMe Sound Station were developed to increase the attachment rate of sounds to bears and increase the entertainment quotient of BABW’s newly imagined store of the future.

When developing the user interface, the challenge was to create an experience that would be both fun for kids and easy to understand for grandma. Voice Express, working with Nanonation and Build-a-Bear design teams, collaborated closely on developing the user interface.  In the process, Voice Express also revolutionized the industry by offering the first commercially feasible wireless programming platform for audio chips.

Besides winning several awards, the results of Digital HearMe being deployed in several stores during 2011-2012 have been very successful. User testing and in-store observations have shown a very positive reaction by users of the kiosk. Guests are being attracted to the kiosk and can navigate, preview, select, and purchase with little to no associate assistance.

The coordinated experience between on-screen content, physical lights, and sounds keep the guest both engaged with the kiosk as well as provides important visual cues on what to do next. All age ranges can use the kiosk from a six-year-old adding a voice to their new friend to a sixty-year-old creating a “pawsonalized” messaged for their grandchild.

The result is sound sales in locations converted to the Digital HearMe sound solution have been consistently seeing double-digit increases of sound sales over previous years.

How The Project Began

Since 2005, Voice Express has been providing printed brochures and mailers that play audio for health care providers. Our audio mailers enjoyed 18-31% Response Rates and up to 92% Positive Sponsor & Brand Recall.

With those kinds of metrics, our clients in Pharma, Financial Services, and Insurance wanted to exploit full living color video to increase the impact and response of their marketing to high-value clients.  This demand converged with the explosive growth of consumer electronic devices using small screens to play video leading to a critical drop in the cost of LCD displays and video chipsets.

What We Provided

Using our long-term relationships with both factories and chip suppliers we were able to set up the supply chain necessary to provide self-playing video cards that had the level of high-quality display/playback and high quality offset printing that our clients demand.  Quick turn-around and the ability to insert collateral material such as PIs into the sleeve were also critical.

Finally, we were able to utilize vertically integrated sales partners such as i-Path Media in the Pharma space, to ensure that video card campaigns were offered when appropriate and that campaigns were managed with the utmost care – from start to finish.

Explore Examples

Interested in seeing some of the examples? Explore video cards in our portfolio.

We were approached by Somerset Group LTD, a subsidiary of Allegro Media Group, the largest provider of specialty music sold through non-traditional retailers.  Mood asked us to provide a low-cost solution to replace their permanent interactive displays the company was currently using in retail environments.

Larger retailers had asked to be provided with self-liquidating interactive players that could be shipped along with the specialty music CDs and could be disposed of after the CDs were all sold.

Challenges We Faced

The primary challenge was providing high fidelity sound appropriate for selling music CDs but at a low-cost and with high reliability.

Another challenge was the lead time. These POS display modules are relatively large in size and shipping by airfreight from the Far East was prohibitive. At the same time, the lead time from the final selection of music by the retailer, to delivery was short. Oftentimes, the customer wouldn’t know exactly which music selections needed to be programmed onto the unit until just weeks before the campaign was scheduled to ship.

Solutions We Provided

We developed an interactive display that allowed customers to sample high fidelity selections from up to 16 different music CDs with a disposable module constructed out of cardboard at a fraction of the cost of the permanent musical displays previously provided by the company.

To tackle the challenge of lead time, we provided a unique, innovative solution. The interactive displays could be shipped months in advance to the customer’s distribution center without the music cartridge installed. The music cartridge could be flash programmed and shipped by air, allowing Mood Entertainment to take last-minute orders. An additional benefit of this modular approach was that the POS music players could also be re-purposed as desired.

Project Outcome

With thousands of units shipped the project has been a resounding success.  We were able to dramatically reduce the costs and lead time for in-store music displays and big-box retailers are now able to increase the sale of music CDs by providing in-store sampling units with product displays.