Nielsen: Heavy Radio Listeners Are Key To Restarting U.S. Economy.



With 39 states beginning to relax restrictions imposed to diminish the spread of the coronavirus, many Americans are ready to pick up the pieces and get back to their previous lifestyles. An online survey of 1,000 persons aged 18+, conducted from April 30-May 2, found nearly two thirds (63%) say they plan to resume normal activities next month. Conducted by Nielsen, the survey also shows heavy radio listeners are key to driving commerce and supporting the economy since they’re more likely to go out and shop once COVID-19 eases in their market.

Presenting the findings during a client webinar Friday afternoon, Tony Hereau, Nielsen VP of Cross-Platform Insights, summed up the top takeaway succinctly: “AM/FM radio is the soundtrack of America’s re-opening and reemergence.”


The second in a series of flash surveys to gauge consumer sentiment amidst the pandemic, the new research shows what to expect from Americans as the recovery starts to take hold. In terms of where people’s heads are at as the recovery begins, it identified three distinct groups, each roughly equal in size: A “wait and see” group that isn’t ready to resume most normal activities and doesn’t believe their community is safer than it was a month ago. A “proceed with caution” contingent carefully preparing to resume some (but not all) normal activities next month. And a “ready to go” crowd that’s becoming less concerned about virus risk, feels things are safer than a month ago and intends to resume most normal activities in the next month.


“The ready to go group is in unanimous agreement about seeing a lot of positivity in their community,” Hereau said. “The wait and see people see are much less optimistic and will be slower to respond.”


Have Radio, Will Spend


As businesses slowly swing open their doors again, these “ready to go” Americans have a profile that’s attractive to advertisers. They’re more likely to be 25-54 year-olds and have kids aged 2-11 in their household. They make $100,000 or more a year, have spent time in a car in the last day and work outside the house. Significantly, they’re heavy radio listeners and are ready to spend.


This group of radio-friendly consumers is ready to open their wallet across a range of consumer categories, the survey found. They are (29%) more likely to spend on auto parts and repairs, 47% more likely to spend on household services, 43% more likely to invest in home improvement and 67% more prone to spend in the beleaguered travel sector.


Put another way, the first dollars spent in these consumer categories will come from pockets of this younger, more optimistic and affluent “ready to go” crowd.


These consumers, which Nielsen said will be the first to refuel the economy’s engines, are 26% more likely to be heavy radio listeners. And heavy radio listeners, the survey shows, are also more likely to agree with statements like, “People are starting to resume more normal activities” (indexing at 118), “My city/town is starting to emerge from the crisis” (index 117) and “It is safer than a month ago” (124).


Asked what activities you intend to do once COVID-190 eases in your area, heavy radio listeners over-indexed in every category except ordering takeout. They’re 67% more likely to go to a car or truck dealership, 50% more prone to belly up to a bar, 38% more likely to go to a movie theater. Ready to go-ers are at least 20% more likely to hit the gym, shop for things other than groceries and make major purchases like appliances and electronics.

Whether it’s home improvement, automotive, food and dining, professional services, and even travel, heavy radio listeners are more apt to spend more money than they are now, once restrictions are eased, Nielsen said. For example, they are 39% more likely to purchase a new/used vehicle and 22% more apt to buy a new house.


“Not only is it the quick community needs that are going to be filled,” Hereau said. “It’s also these major purchases.”


In other key findings from the study:


  • People who are ready to go with life after restrictions are already feeling more normal

  • The more you drive, the more encouraged you are about things opening up and the more you listen to radio

  • Radio reaches people who plan to spend when restrictions are lifted

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