Radio Whets the Appetite

Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

The impact created by COVID-19 restrictions has been felt across a number of industries. One of the hardest hit has been the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), as many as 110,000 restaurants have closed since the start of the pandemic.

Like other service industries, local restaurants needed to quickly adapt and shift their business model in order to survive. From coffee houses to fine dining, restaurants owners and franchisees understood that changes needed to be made to how and what they would serve their patrons.

According to the NRA, many restaurants that served alcohol before the shutdown, continued to do so, but offered these beverages to-go. Forty-four percent of coffee & snack restaurants and 73% of fine-dining restaurants began offering alcoholic beverages for takeout or delivery. Like the retail industry, restaurants were quick to see the value of these sales and consumers’ preference of having curbside pickup offered, with 78% of family-dining restaurants providing the service, along with 77% of fast-casual establishments.

The more challenging part was making sure that consumers were aware that these local establishments were providing these services. Radio stations across the country were there to help in so many ways – by supporting small businesses, taking action and allowing callers to notify listeners, to driving lunch sales and supporting local charities. Throughout 2020, radio did two of the many things it does best – driving awareness and influencing behavior.

Radio has incredible reach among diners across a variety of restaurant groups – from 89% of adults 18+ who go to coffee houses, to 90% of Blacks 18+ who dine at upscale restaurants and 90% of Hispanic adults 18+ who are pizza restaurant patrons, according to Scarborough data. Reaching diners mattered to the industry, and during 2020, radio increased web traffic by 5%.

In an analysis of 246 radio advertisers and 131,000 ads in 2020, via the NumericOwl platform, radio drove 3.9 web visits for every radio ad aired. Restaurant advertisers in this analysis were across a range of sectors – formal, casual, fast food, bars/nightclubs and pizza restaurants. Increased lift varied by sector, ranging from +3% for bars/nightclubs, to as high as +12% for pizza restaurants.

Historically, Monday has been a slower day in the restaurant industry, but like historic trends in other sectors, this trend changed in 2020. Based on this same analysis, while web traffic peaked on Saturdays, it was Mondays that experienced the higher new user visits per airing – 5.1, compared to 4.8 on Saturdays.

As it pertains to dayparts, Afternoon experienced the highest new user visits per airing, followed by Midday. These two dayparts were common drivers across nearly each sector within the restaurant categories included within the analysis. Evening delivered nearly two-thirds of new visitors that Midday delivered. Overnight should not be dismissed as a daypart – it delivered 5,300 new site users. (Perhaps hearing radio ads with the sounds of sizzling bacon whets the appetite.)

Radio delivers – for listeners, restaurants and results.

To view the entire analysis, click here.


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