For as long as Americans have been hitting the road, radio and the cars we drive have been closely linked. And now, based on findings from a new major market test, we can connect what consumers listen to on the radio with what they buy at the auto dealer.
To correlate auto purchase behavior with radio listening trends, the test relied on Nielsen’s Local Insights service to combine portable people meter (PPM) results in the nation’s three largest radio markets (New York, Los Angeles and Chicago) with insights from Polk automotive data, which tracks ownership history for more than 600 million vehicles nationwide.
By connecting these various datasets, the results highlighted the uniqueness of each local market, the importance that radio formats have in reaching specific listeners and vehicle preference based on the type of radio listeners prefer.
“One of radio’s great strengths is its ability to impact consumers in unique ways on a market-by-market basis, which isn’t easily copied from one local market to the next,” said Farshad Family, SVP, Local Product Media Leadership. “Formats really make a difference in reaching certain auto buyers in different markets, and this test proves the importance of being able to use specific, granular radio data to explore those connections for both broadcasters and marketers.”
Firstly, the test revealed that every market is unique. Radio’s local connection to listeners across the country shapes how the medium serves each market. And just as traffic patterns are vastly different in Chicago from those in Los Angeles, the radio landscape is just as varied. So in that regard, it’s no surprise to see that roadster buyers (e.g., those in the market for an Audi TT, BMW Z4 or Porsche Boxster) don’t all favor the same format. Based on the index of radio-listening roadster buyers in Chicago and L.A., the News, Talk and Information format leads the way in both markets when it comes to the likeliness of reaching those consumers, but the similarities end there.
The results also revealed that connecting data on what consumers listen to with what they buy can help advertisers identify the right mix of radio formats for the type of vehicle they’re marketing. In Los Angeles, the basic luxury category (e.g., the Acura ILX, Infiniti G37 or Volkswagen CC) is important to many kinds of stations and automakers. And buyers in that category have a unique set of tastes for radio listening, which ranges from spoken word and information programming to religious programming to country music. Agencies, advertisers and broadcasters can all use these insights to be better informed about finding just the right mix of formats for reaching basic luxury buyers on the radio.
The test also explored which vehicle types are preferred by listeners inside a specific format itself. Instead of asking which formats offer the right mix for a certain vehicle type, we flipped the focus to one particular format and examined the types of vehicles those listeners were most likely to buy. In New York, sports radio scored the best among high-end vehicle buyers, particularly those in the prestige sporty and prestige luxury categories (e.g., the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus LS or BMW 7 series). Among all vehicle types, sports radio enthusiasts are most likely to have purchased prestige sporty, prestige luxury, mid sport or mid luxury vehicles in the past year.