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How retailers can reap the benefits of radio

Product and price has always been important for retailers, but increasingly, customers are looking to shop with brands that they can connect with emotionally. Sound is one of the most effective ways to do this, and as such, radio advertising has been proven to strike a chord with audiences.

By Sponsored content | September 3, 2019 | Sponsored Content

Catching shoppers’ attention

Experiential retail is a mega-trend that’s currently sweeping through retailers all over the world. It reflects consumers’ shift in focus – a growing majority of Millennials and Generation Z shoppers now wish to spend a greater portion of their disposable income on experiences like dining and travel, and a lesser portion on products. Retailers have responded to this by turning their brands into an immersive experience in and of themselves.

J. Walter Thompson’s Future 100 report explains that succeeding in retail, now, is about creating a compelling story:

“Retailers are clear that today’s consumers need to be inspired to part with their cash. But they’re no longer relying on traditional editorial channels to dream up a story around their products. Instead, in the latest evolution of retailers creating content, they’re orchestrating spectacles—both in terms of video content online and in real life—to entertain and fuel consumers’ desire to make that purchase.”

Many retailers have successfully used radio on-site activations and promotions as a means of making their brand come to life. It’s a great way of aligning the retailers’ brand with the entertaining and trusted radio brand to help draw more customers into the store. Consumers are more likely to have a positive experience instore through this live engagement with the radio brand.

Sound is also a key part of bringing that compelling brand story to life. US ecommerce giant Amazon knows this – a recent report from the Future Today Institute anticipates that 50 percent of all device interactions will be made via voice by 2021, and some estimates put the value of voice shopping as high as $40 billion by 2022.

There’s an immediacy to the way shoppers experience sound that gives it cut-through in an environment of overwhelming consumer choice. Andy Walsh, business director of creative agency Secret Sounds, told StopPress that sound taps into both emotions and primitive motivations.

“When you hear something through your ears, you react to it at a much faster rate than any other sense, so sound, in that sense, informs everything else. You hear things before you see them, so as you start to form an opinion, it’s based on that initial sound experience.”

A recognisable sound

Not only can sound be used to connect with a customer and tell your brand’s story – it can build brand recognition. 

“You can take certain characteristics from around the brand and start to turn that into a music representation and that can be objective,” says Walsh.

“If you have a structured brand approach that you go through from the strategy - and if you do that across every platform - you can create a core piece of music that reflects the brand and then build everything off the back of that.”

“That’s typically what we would do with big brands such as Microsoft. You build up a suite of sounds that builds equity with the audience every time they’re heard.”

Walsh says Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa will be the future of consumer interaction with sound.

“Think about something like virtual assistant Amazon Alexa. That’s an interface that you have in your home and operates as pure sound. That holds a lot of power for brands and more and more we’re thinking about that environment. It’s becoming more and more about those relationships and sound is going to be critical in that.”

Building trust

Not only does sound attract shoppers’ attention and build brand recognition, it also builds trust. Consumers naturally look to their friends and peers to influence their purchasing decisions through word of mouth, and many brands have turned to the influencer economy to reach their customers through social media.

However, recent reports suggest the tide may be turning on influencers. The Future 100 says influences on purchasing decisions are becoming “ever more decentralised, personal and visual”, speaking of how all consumers now see themselves as brands, curators and creators. 

Euromonitor’s Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2019 concurs, offering ‘Everyone’s an expert’ as one of its 10 biggest trends: “Rather than be seduced by brands’ marketing, consumers look to each other for advice on what to buy and where, and how to get the best product for their money.”

One category of influencers boasting an unshakeable consumer relationship and powerful cut-through is radio DJs. Often described as “the original influencers” due to their uniquely close relationships with listeners, they’ve long been using sound’s ability to connect emotionally with listeners, forging deeply personal and trusted relationships with their audience over time. 

Radio audience data indicates a majority of people spend most of their radio listening time tuned exclusively to their favourite station. The nature of consumers’ relationship with their announcers means they trust the information they hear, and any commercial messages reach a happy, positive consumer that’s more receptive to the message.

A recent Australian study by GfK highlighted that 71 percent of people still consider radio a great companion, 61 percent think radio is like a friend, and 55 percent think radio connects them more to their community. A DJ’s knowledge and honesty are also seen as key reasons why consumers like them.

The content, music and personality of the talent on-air are all reasons why the average New Zealander listens to over 17 hours of radio a week.

Walking the walk

This highly engaged radio audience is proven to act on the commercial messages they hear.

A 2018 report, ‘Radio drives store traffic’, from Dial Report and The Radio Advertising Bureau, examined 10 different retail brands to measure the average increase in foot traffic for retailers as a result of their radio campaigns.

It found that radio, on average, drove an average increase of 22 percent store traffic lift for retailers. The lift in traffic varied across different brand categories, with the highest lift seen in automotive (45 percent), beauty (37 percent) and quick service restaurants (32 percent).

Radio’s ability to drive store traffic is highly influenced by accurate audience targeting within format, station, daypart and day of week, the report advises.

“Every brand and category is different. Audience targeting within these segments is highly dependent on each brand’s demographic goals and campaign objectives.”

Music to our ears

As the pace of retail change speeds up, technology is more and more present in customer interactions. Consumers are diving into digitally-enabled experiential stores, AI-driven personal assistants like Alexa and social media, but they’re also still hungry for personal interactions that touch their emotions.

Radio can help retailers connect with your customers, build your brand, earn their trust and convert that relationship into a sale.

To enquire about radio advertising, contact The Radio Bureau’s Ally Watt at alisonw@trb.co.nz.    

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