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As The World Returns to Normal, More Consumers Are ‘Ready to Go’ and Driving Radio Listening.

More consumers are optimistic about a post-pandemic return to normalcy – and more are likely to be AM/FM listeners – according to an analysis of an ongoing Nielsen Media study by Westwood One, as reported in this week's edition of its “Everyone's Listening” blog.

The report focuses on results from the latest of Nielsen's consumer sentiment studies over the past year, which divide consumers into three segments based on their sense of whether things are normalizing or opening up: “wait and see,” “proceed with caution” and “ready to go.” According to the most recent study, conducted in March 2021 among more than 1,000 consumers, six in 10 consider themselves “ready to go,” compared to just over half in October 2020 and just one-third a year ago. More than nine in ten (95%) of this segment agree that people are starting to resume normal activities, while 92% point positively to stores reopening and 90% see their cities and towns emerging from the crisis.

“The majority feel safer than they did a month ago,” Cumulus Media Director of Content Marketing Lauren Vetrano says. “While the upheaval of the last year had many industries scrambling, the reemergence is a chance for advertisers to optimize their advertising budgets and focus on ways to reach consumers who are ready to spend.”

Nielsen's results show that those in the “ready to go” segment are more likely to listen to AM/FM radio in a typical day, compared with either of the other two more hesitant groups. In addition, the “ready to go's” over-index in advertiser-friendly categories: having an annual income of over $100k (113), having children aged 2-11 (117) and working outside of the home (114).

AM/FM and podcast listeners also show a greater propensity for air travel, hotel reservations, car buying and dining out, according to the Nielsen findings and Westwood One's analysis. One-fourth (24%) of heavy AM/FM radio listeners and a third of podcast listeners intend to plan or book a vacation within a month after COVID-19 eases in their area, 41% and 94% more than heavy TV viewers, respectively. In addition, 17% of heavier AM/FM radio listeners and 13% of podcast listeners also intend to travel via airplane within a month after COVID-19 restrictions ease, compared to only 5% of heavy TV viewers. At the same time, both heavy AM/FM radio listeners and podcast listeners are 57% more likely to spend more on hotel reservations within a month of restrictions easing.

As for auto purchasing, Nielsen shows that one-third of heavy AM/FM radio listeners and four in 10 podcast listeners intend to buy or lease in the next year, 18% and 43% greater than heavy TV viewers respectively. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of heavy AM/FM radio listeners and over half of podcast listeners (54%) intend to dine out within a month after COVID restrictions ease.

With these positive consumer trends, Vetrano suggests advertisers not only focus and keep in touch with consumers but also shift budgets to AM/FM. “With stronger branding and a shift in budget to AM/FM radio and podcasts, travel advertisers, airlines, hotels, auto dealers, and restaurants can strategically recover from the pandemic.”

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