Radio Works to Drive Business and Brand Growth

Author: Tammy Greenberg, SVP/Business Development, RAB

Radio can help brands and businesses grow in a number of ways. Whether the goal is to drive awareness, traffic, or sales, radio can be a key player in a brand’s media plan. In fact, according to a 2020 iHeartMedia survey, radio is the No. 1 trusted medium in the U.S., with 75 percent of respondents saying they trust radio for the information and entertainment it delivers.

Through a Radio Works series of online, members-only events, the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) has taken a deep dive into more than 18 categories of business, including healthcare, automotive, retail, and restaurants, among others. While each category is unique, one thing remains consistent across the board: radio can be an effective way to drive business and brand growth.

Here’s a look at a sampling of industry verticals where radio drives ROI.

Radio Is Always on for Healthcare

“One of the trends in the healthcare industry, as it relates to its growth and marketing, is that consumers are faced with a cacophony of messaging, which can be very confusing about where to go for what type of care,” says Carl Fremont, CEO of Quigley, in the recording of an RAB Radio Works for Healthcare presentation that aired online in February of 2021. “Collectively, brands in the healthcare category and their agency and media partners need to help consumers interpret the information to make right, smart decisions.”

Healthcare is a massive industry, but consumers tap into it at the local level, which means healthcare brands should ingrain themselves in the local communities they serve. “Radio provides the opportunity for healthcare marketers to be omnipresent at exactly the point in time when a consumer needs the information,” Fremont says. “Radio is proven to reach discreet audiences in a highly efficient manner, tell powerful stories through trusted local personalities, and precisely target by a particular genre with frequency.”

Fremont’s experience resonates with the results of a 2019 pharmaceutical ad campaign detailed in a study conducted by MARU/Matchbox commissioned by CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One. Among heavy AM/FM radio listeners, the study found that advertising recall was three times greater than the overall market, aided awareness surged 47 percent, and the likelihood to act grew nearly three times. Exposure to AM/FM radio drove website visitation, product research, recommendation, purchase, and more, the study found.

“Due to a lack of experience with audio ads, pharmaceutical brands sometimes steer clear of AM/FM radio,” writes Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer at CUMULUS MEDIA and author of the case study. “The worry is that the impact of audio ads will not be as great as TV creative.” But, Bouvard writes, referencing research conducted by creative testing firm ABX comparing messaging used in ads on radio and TV, “with ABX’s finding that AM/FM radio pharmaceutical ads perform at nearly the same level as TV ads, pharmaceutical brands should be more encouraged to give AM/FM radio a try.”

Radio Drives Restaurant Traffic

A report issued by the U.S. Census states that the ongoing pandemic has damaged the sales of restaurants and bars up to $280 billion, Forbes reports. Though the restaurant industry has bounced back from a devastating 2020, it’s still struggling.

In January of 2022, 88 percent of restaurants experienced a decline in customer demand for indoor, on-premise dining, according to the National Restaurant Association, as reported by Foodservice.

To survive the pandemic, restaurateurs made a number of changes. Hudson Riehle, SVP for the Research and Knowledge Group at the National Restaurant Association who joined RAB’s Radio Works for Restaurants presentation in April 2021, points to restaurants that streamlined their menus to make them easier to access and read online. A new type of dining experience emerged as establishments added outdoor seating on streets, sidewalks, and in parking lots. Takeout and delivery packaging and processing were updated, as was the technology for ordering and paying for meals. Riehle foresees technology-fueled changes helping to transform the definition of a restaurant over the next decade.

Perhaps equally imperative as those operational changes during the pandemic was how restaurants marketed themselves, as Inside Radio illustrates in a recent article: Colorado-based Good Times Restaurants, which mainly focuses on drive-through traffic, used radio in April 2020 to enhance an ad campaign and increase frequency during the early days of the pandemic. From title sponsorship of a live concert series on Country KYGO to a “Feel Good Fridays” segment celebrating essential and front-line workers on KOSI 101.1, the chain of 34 restaurants was able to deliver its message to an engaged audience. The programs included host endorsements, social media activity, and promotion and loyal-listener targeting. By the final week of the campaign, the chain was doing 9 percent more business than the same period in April 2019.

Radio Listeners Are Retail’s Ideal Shoppers

Retail is growing at levels not seen in more than 20 years, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Retail sales grew by 7 percent in 2020, by more than 14 percent in 2021, and the NRF forecasts sales will grow 6 percent to 8 percent in 2022 to more than $4.9 trillion. (By way of comparison, retail grew on average 3.7 percent annually from 2010 to 2019, according to the NRF.) However, with inflation hitting a 40-year high in 2022, there will likely be an economic reset that will affect both businesses and consumers profoundly.

Given the state of the economy, it’s never been more important to fish where the fish are — and the fish, a new study suggests, are pooling around radio.

As a recent RAB blog post details, a new Provoke Insights study shows radio listeners are the ideal retail shopper. Shopping is not just a business transaction for listeners; 71 percent enjoy the experience of browsing and picking out their items. They tend to be more affluent, and 56 percent are not concerned with price and are willing to splurge for the items they want. Another third is willing to pay to stay trendy, and almost half would pay more for items that are sustainably sourced, the study shows.

Provoke Insights’ study identified the retail categories where radio listeners out-shopped non-radio listeners in a 30-day window. These include apparel (70 percent for radio listeners versus 62 percent non-radio listers), footwear (49 percent versus 35 percent), beauty items (65 percent versus 45 percent), and home goods (34 percent versus 22 percent).

Additionally, a Katz Media Group “Our Media Panel” report from April 2022 shows 95 percent of adult radio listeners are online shoppers, while 93 percent are either spending the same or more online compared to last year. These shoppers are heavy users of radio and light users of print and television, per the report.

Radio can not only work to drive retail traffic but build the foundation for business opportunity to grow brands. When specialty home decor shop White House Home Design opened its first location in Malverne, N.Y., it partnered with Connoisseur Media’s Long Island radio stations to generate awareness, differentiate the brand from competitors, and drive store traffic among upscale consumers in the area. As noted in a Connoisseur Media case study made available to RAB, the owner, Joseph Devito, voiced descriptions of some of the unique treasures in the store to capture listeners’ imaginations. The results not only drove a 35 percent increase in sales but afforded the retailer the opportunity to open a companion kitchen and design center, according to the case study.

Radio Puts Wheels in Motion for Automotive

While the automotive industry saw challenges on a number of fronts in 2021, from chip shortages to inventory issues, there were some positives, including a surge in sales of electric vehicles and higher digital engagement thanks to automotive websites boosting customers’ confidence in price and overall satisfaction, according to a recent report from Cox Automotive.

While brand is the main factor for purchasing, price is the leading deterrent, according to a recent CivicScience automotive insight report. Unsurprisingly, quality and price are the factors that are most likely to deter a consumer from considering a vehicle purchase, and consumers tend to shop multiple dealers to find the right deal, the report finds.

According to the CivicScience report, those who listen to radio while commuting are significantly more likely to be concerned about price, partly because a percent of this group is blue collar workers, 50 percent of whom are more likely to drive trucks than non-radio listeners. This behavior transcends demographic categories.

Regardless of race or ethnicity, radio reaches eight out of 10 adults planning to pay $25,000 to $30,000 for a new or leased vehicle, to buy an SUV, or who have had five auto repairs and services in the past year, according to proprietary data sourced from 2021 Nielsen Scarborough surveys among those who are reached by radio.

“Quality and price are a given in most categories, but that doesn’t mean you can just stop talking about them,” says Casey Taylor, VP of client development at CivicScience. “However, by looking at your audiences with more granularity, you can get to the heart of what factors are influencing two admittedly subjective characteristics: When a price is too high, or how quality is defined at the individual level.”

Take, as an example, the efforts of a Kia dealership in California outlined in a 2022 Uforia case study for the RAB. With a goal to become the No. 1 Kia dealer in the market among Hispanic consumers, the dealership partnered with Univision to increase traffic and sales online and in person. Univision focused digital efforts on likely car buyers within a five-mile radius of the dealership and used culturally relevant radio influencers in the brand’s radio ads. The radio group even wrote a Spanish jingle for Kia reflective of the content that aired on the station to create a consistent, cohesive sound. In one month, the dealership sold more than 225 cars — a 100 percent month-over-month increase, according to the case study — and has continued to expand its campaign to drive year-over-year growth.

With radio dominating weekly reach, per Nielsen, and commanding the highest share of trust in advertising in communities across the U.S., as Inside Radio reports, radio can help deliver engaged consumers to a brand’s doorstep.

Radio stations’ ability to target audiences, tell engaging stories, and connect and drive commerce sets it apart from other media channels in its ability to drive business and brand growth in many categories of business.


2 thoughts on “Radio Works to Drive Business and Brand Growth

  1. This article says it all about the “staying power” of radio! The fact that for over one century radio has faced every challenge of “alternative media” and continues to “survive and thrive”!!! As mentioned here, it’s ALL about trust. The fact that radio is your “friend”: Radio travels with you in your car…..Radio travels with you on your device wherever you go and then…..Radio makes a trip back to your home EVERY day! This continuity and consistency is at the core of radio’s success – THE trusted media of loyal, responsive and engaged listeners-captive to deliver results for advertisers in ALL industries.

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