After Americans were asked to go into lockdown earlier this year due to the pandemic, consumers spent less time with radio, largely because they were spending less time in their cars. Post-lockdown, the number of radio listeners has crept back up to reach 97% of what it was pre-pandemic, per recent data [pdf] from Nielsen.
Figures covering March 2020 indicate that an average of 124.2 million Americans listened to radio weekly. The numbers dropped to 106.6 million in April and 112.7 million in May, representing 86% and 91% of the reach from March, respectively. After lockdown restrictions were eased in June, the number of weekly radio listeners increased, and by October, it was up to 120.8 million.
What does this recovery in radio listening mean for marketers? It turns out that heavy radio listeners tend to over-index in many areas, including shopping. In a survey of adult consumers conducted between April and October of this year, Nielsen found that, on the most part, heavy radio listeners were more likely to engage in certain activities including shopping for non-groceries (76% vs 67% of total respondents), shopping for clothes at a store (57% vs. 52%), visiting coffee shops/cafes (50% vs 42%) and going to a hair salon, barber or nail salon (47% vs. 41%).
Indeed, although 2020 spending on radio advertising in the US is expected to decrease by about 17% over last year, Nielsen found that heavy radio listeners were 57% more likely than average to go to the movie theatre, 53% more likely to book a vacation and 48% more likely to make a major purchase. They are also much more likely to visit a car dealership (45%), go to bars (41%) and go to the gym (25%) than the average adult. This presents an opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of this still viable channel.
About the Data: Shopping intention data is based on Custom Nielsen consumer lifestyle survey series conducted online among consumers 18+ between April and October 2020.