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How Radio Messaging Needs To Change This Holiday Season.

Since COVID, the new normal for the holiday season has been ever-changing, and radio ad messaging needs to adapt. That's the word from opinion analytics platform CivicScience, as presented during a recent RAB webinar.

“You're going to want to talk to folks differently,” CivicScience VP of Client Services Casey Taylor says. “You're gonna want to talk to them about the things that matter to them, which [are] price deals, the ability to get stuff, maybe the ability to spend now before their budgets dry up.”

Although CivicScience's research shows that for many, holiday shopping begins earlier every year, Taylor notes there are still people yet to start, and they're more likely to be listening to radio. “It's a great opportunity to reach these folks to nudge them along, particularly during their commute,” Taylor says. “The holiday season is no longer Black Friday through Christmas Eve, and it hasn't been for quite some time.”

This means also nudging advertisers to get back into the game. “I would definitely talk to partners [as if it's] a level of urgency,” Taylor says. “Your consideration window if you're a brand or marketer is getting smaller, because what we're starting to see with inflation is that [for consumers] it's [about] share-of-wallet consideration, as opposed to brand competition.”

While the platform finds 26% of holiday shoppers expect to spend less this season, likely driven by consumers feeling more price sensitivity now than over the last three years, Taylor suggests those who are less price sensitive are more likely to be radio listeners. “It's a smaller portion of the population, but you can make a pretty good argument that up until about 11am, you can reach people with bigger ticket items,” he says. “Maybe that's where you want to talk to your consumer electronics partners, because we tend to see that less price sensitivity, tech adoption and affluence go hand in hand.” This doesn't mean to ignore price-sensitive listeners, though. “They're still going to be [listening] early morning as well, but you can reach them more throughout the day.”

The research presented during RAB's webinar also showed that when deciding where to shop for holiday gifts, nearly a third (32%) of shoppers say deals and promotions are most important, followed by free shipping (21%) and product availability (20%), so these should be addressed in ad messaging. “No matter what you or your partners want to tell the consumer about your product, you need to talk to them about stuff they actually care about, and deals, promotions and free shipping are at the top of the list,” Taylor says.

With 58% of consumers anticipating traveling during the holidays, with travel by car most preferred, Taylor sees another opportunity for radio. “There's an opportunity to reach more folks through audio mediums,” he says, “and for thinking which of your partners this makes a lot of sense for – rental car companies, gas stations, CPG and snack companies, energy drinks, and quick service restaurants, [given there's] a lot more stops when you're on the road.”

Perhaps most important, according to CivicScience's research, is that for 53% of consumers, their main priority this holiday season is seeing friend and family, followed by staying safe and healthy (45%) and following holiday traditions (32%). Taylor suggests that these findings should show advertisers that while consumers may care about saving money and be concerned about what lies ahead, it's all still about holiday joy first and foremost. “One of the things you should be beating the drum on with your partners is, now is not the time for cold feet about marketing to folks, because all this news doesn't change the fact that people still are going to spend at the holidays, and they're going to try and experience joy for themselves and their families,” Taylor says. “Do they want to go off the air, while another [advertiser] goes on and sells to the customer, because they're going to buy something for their kids, friends or family?”

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