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What’s Next? The Road to Recovery

September 23, 2020

As we approach budget season, the usual arithmetic alchemy we use to predict the future has been rendered redundant. No one – and I mean no one – has any idea what to expect or predict for 2021.

Everything is clouded by the pandemic and the mixed messages we receive on how, if, or when it will end. We see this apply to radio listening. There has been no “V” shaped curve. It is more like a swoosh (Nike did not pay for that product placement). Cume is slowly trickling back while AWTE is well behind pre-pandemic levels.

Perhaps we can look across the Atlantic for a hint on what to expect in the future.

Radiocentre recently released a study of radio listener behavior in a post-lockdown environment entitled “Radio & the road to recovery.” You can download the presentation here: https://www.radiocentre.org/road-to-recovery/

If you’re attention-span challenged, here are a few highlights:

  • 36% of commercial radio listeners are consuming more radio than before the lockdown.
  • The categories that saw the most increased consumer spending post-lockdown were restaurants/takeaways, clothes and footwear, and DIY/gardening products.
  • 31% are spending more in their local area than before the lockdown.
  • ROI for radio advertising almost doubled on-line display.

Will this pattern be replicated in the USA? We can certainly hope.

After bottoming out in the April survey, we have seen a slow recovery in listening. It is always difficult to gauge reality based on summer months as listener lifestyles are different. As fall approaches, and sports and (hopefully) schools return, we could see an uptick in radio listening.

One of the biggest takeaways in Radiocentre’s study is how radio bounced back – in both usage and effectiveness. We hear too much gloom-and-doom about how the pandemic permanently altered usage patterns. As we all crave a return to normalcy, one could expect the familiarity with radio could contribute to that rebound.

One thing we have seen is that there is a generational divide in radio usage. The 35+ demo is coming back much faster than 18-34 and men are outpacing women. These are trends that should be factored into any future planning.

For help using data like this to your station’s advantage, reach out to us here.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant