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Young consumers’ brain responses to pop music on Youtube

Kyoung Cheon Cha (Department of Business Administration, Dong-A University, Busan, Republic of Korea)
Minah Suh (Biomedical Engineering, Sungkyunkwan University – Suwon Campus, Suwon, Republic of Korea)
Gusang Kwon (R&D, Amore-Pacific Research and Development Center, Yongin, Republic of Korea)
Seungeun Yang (Cheil Communications, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Eun Ju Lee (Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics

ISSN: 1355-5855

Article publication date: 26 July 2019



The purpose of this paper is to determine the auditory-sensory characteristics of the digital pop music that is particularly successful on the YouTube website by measuring young listeners’ brain responses to highly successful pop music noninvasively.


The authors conducted a functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) experiment with 56 young adults (23 females; mean age 24 years) with normal vision and hearing and no record of neurological disease. The authors calculated total blood flow (TBF) and hemodynamic randomness and examined their relationships with online popularity.


The authors found that TBF to the right medial prefrontal cortex increased more when the young adults heard music that presented acoustic stimulation well above previously defined optimal sensory level. The hemodynamic randomness decreased significantly when the participants listened to music that provided near- or above-OSL stimulation.

Research limitations/implications

Online popularity, recorded as the number of daily hits, was significantly positively related with the TBF and negatively related with hemodynamic randomness.

Practical implications

These findings suggest that a new media marketing strategy may be required that can provide a sufficient level of sensory stimulation to Millennials in order to increase their engagements in various use cases including entertainment, advertising and retail environments.

Social implications

Digital technology has so drastically reduced the costs of sharing and disseminating information, including music, that consumers can now easily use digital platforms to access a wide selection of music at minimal cost. The structure of the current music market reflects the decentralized nature of the online distribution network such that artists from all over the world now have equal access to billions of members of the global music audience.


This study confirms the importance of understanding target customer’s sensory experiences would grow in determining the success of digital contents and marketing.



This research was supported by the Korean National Research Foundation (2018R1A2B6004658).


Cha, K.C., Suh, M., Kwon, G., Yang, S. and Lee, E.J. (2019), "Young consumers’ brain responses to pop music on Youtube", Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 1132-1148.



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