Results from the latest in an ongoing research series among auto parts shoppers show that heavy AM/FM radio and podcast listeners display greater activity with these retailers than heavy TV viewers.
The Westwood One weekly blog's analysis of the data from the sixth such study commissioned by Cumulus Media and conducted by MARU/Matchbox – surveying more than 800 auto aftermarket consumers in August 2023 – shows that compared to TV viewers, audio listeners shop more frequently and at more retailers, have maintenance or service performed more often, spend more annually, and show higher retailer ad recall.
“AM/FM radio and podcasts are the soundtrack of the American worker,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says. “Heavy audio users over-index on children and working full time. As such, they spend far more on auto parts than TV viewers.”
The blog notes that consumer segments spending more than average at auto parts retailers – including “do-it-yourselfers” repairing cars full- or part-time, “mega-milers” driving 200 or more miles weekly, or “ultra-heavy” shoppers making 10 or more visits in the past two years – are, respectively, 37%, 20%, and 55% more likely to be heavy AM/FM listeners.
“AM/FM radio is the 'engine' of auto aftermarket sales,” Bouvard says. “Nielsen determined AM/FM radio generates $21 of return in advertising spend for every dollar invested in AM/FM radio ads. A reallocation of TV budgets to audio is a smart strategy to target heavy category users.”
Among the radio formats with the highest reach of auto aftermarket consumers are rock and classic rock, top 40, oldies/classic hits, and AC, while other formats display strong reach as well. The highest-reaching podcast genres among auto parts shoppers are comedy and news, both with more than 10%, while true crime, society and culture, business, and sports also show notable reach.
Looking at how major retailers stack up in brand awareness and image, purchasing frequency, and ad recall, according to MARU/Matchbox, AutoZone and O'Reilly – both of which certainly understand the power of radio – lead the field. The blog emphasizes the importance of unaided brand awareness, where over the past five years, AutoZone has shown up strongest while O'Reilly has gained three percentage points – one for each “O” in its jingle.
“The magnitude of a brand’s unaided awareness is a key driver for brand images and shopping behavior,” Bouvard says. “Unaided awareness is captured by asking consumers to name all the brands in a category they can think of without any help. This is the most difficult brand measure to build. It is also the most important measure for a brand.”
Trending each of MARU/Matchbox's studies since 2019 shows that online shopping for auto parts among consumers aged 18-49 has rebounded to near-pre-COVID levels, while among 50-64s, online shopping has been steadily growing.