There’s encouraging news from one of radio’s biggest ad categories. The week ending Sunday, June 14 delivered the best weekly new vehicle sales performance since the COVID crisis began. That’s according to JD Power, which compared weekly sales against pre-COVID forecasts.
“Auto sales plunged 60% at the beginning of April as auto dealers closed their doors,” Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer of Cumulus Media/Westwood One, said last week during a webinar for advertisers on the weekly state of consumers, audio and media. “Since then, auto sales have steadily improved to the point where they were just 4% below the pre-virus forecast.”
The trend for used car sales is even more impressive. For the week ending June 14, used car sales beat the forecast by 11%, marking a second week of eclipsing the forecast by double digits.
Against the backdrop of rebounding car sales, Bouvard presented findings from Nielsen’s auto path-to-purchase study, which surveys 30,000 Americans annually who intend to purchase a new vehicle in the next year. The comprehensive study, used by major automotive manufacturers, cover covers each step along the auto purchase funnel, from brand awareness and consideration to shopping and the ultimate purchase.
Nielsen examined auto intenders who are heavy radio listeners and compared them to heavy TV viewers who are also in the market to buy a new vehicle. The data showed the in-the-market heavy radio listener is younger than their TV counterparts and more likely to be employed full time. In addition, Nielsen found the heavy radio auto intender is more upscale than heavy TV viewers and more likely to have kids.
The study showed that heavy radio listeners have slightly higher auto brand familiarity, stronger brand opinions, and greater brand consideration. “Radio listeners have a greater sense of auto brands and a greater number of brands they would consider buying,” Bouvard said.
While TV continues to get a disproportionately higher share of auto ad budgets, 40% of auto intenders are light TV viewers and they account for only 5% of all TV viewing. “It is virtually impossible to reach these 40% auto intenders on TV,” Bouvard said. Yet AM/FM radio reaches 90% of these light TV viewers, Nielsen data shows.
The auto path to purchase study also found the combination of radio and TV increases favorable brand opinion, brand consideration and purchase intent.