In-​Car Consumers Becoming Better Targets for Radio Marketing

If there’s one place marketers can reach consumers who aren’t splitting their attention among multiple media formats, it might be the car. Consumers are spending more time than ever driving around. And new research shows that while AM/​FM radio is the top media device used in the car, stations must keep their programming relevant to attract consumers and marketers.

U.S. consumers are spending more time in their cars than they were 8 years ago. These days, the average person is in their vehicle for about 16 hours and 23 minutes every week. That’s an increase of 1 hour and 10 minutes since 2003. To pass the time, consumers are turning to in-​car media options ranging from the AM/​FM radio, to CD players, to mobile phones.

Traditional radios remain the primary media device for many, especially for 91% of those ages 45–54 and 89% of those ages 35–44. The format accounts for 62% of all listening time in vehicles. But that percentage has shrunk in recent years while the use of CD players, iPods, and satellite radios is growing.

Marketers who are trying to reach consumers within 30 minutes of a purchase would do well to target consumers through traditional radio. Here are the percentages of consumers who use various media formats right before making a purchase:

  • Listening to radio: 53%
  • See billboard advertising: 35%
  • Watch TV: 28%
  • Go online: 19%
  • Read/​look through a newspaper: 15%
  • Read/​look through a magazine: 12%

Radio remains a top choice, especially older consumers. And once they are driving and listening to a station, 42% never change the dial. But younger consumers don’t exhibit the same commitment to radio. Over 1/​3rd of those ages 18–34 frequently change the station. And only about 15% of younger consumers say they ‘love’ radio. Higher percentages of consumers ‘love’ new in-​car technologies like satellite radio (54%), iPod/​MP3 player (45%) and audio books (38%).

Consumers say they could get excited about some new in-​car radio technologies though. These include pause, rewind, replay radio (41%), built-​in Internet radio devices (36%) and buttons to get more information on radio advertisers (27%). As this technology becomes available, consumers may find more reasons to listen to the radio which would make them better targets for radio marketing.

[Source: The Road Ahead. Arbitron, Edison, Scarborough Research. 2011. Web. 30 Sep. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.