Nielsen: AM/FM Radio Is The Soundtrack Of America’s Recovery And Spending Resurgence

March 31, 2021 By Pierre Bouvard

Nielsen held a client webinar today to reveal the findings of their fifth consumer tracking study since the pandemic. 1,009 Americans 18+ were surveyed March 11-15, 2021.

10 things to know about Nielsen’s very encouraging findings:

  1. Six in ten Americans now fall into the optimistic “ready to go” segment, a one-year high.
  2. “Ready to go” consumers spend strongly across a wide array of categories and are more likely to be AM/FM radio listeners.
  3. Among those employed, two-thirds now work outside the home, up nearly +70% since April 2020.
  4. Those spending 1+ hour in vehicles is up +150% since April 2020.
  5. The number of American schoolchildren attending in person classes is up from October. Nine in ten say AM/FM radio is on during the drive to school.
  6. In the past week, heavy AM/FM radio listeners were +14% more likely to purchase across 21 categories.
  7. Versus heavy TV viewers, purchase intentions among heavy AM/FM radio listeners are +36% greater.
  8. Heavy AM/FM radio listeners are +18% more likely than heavy TV viewers to make a major auto purchase in the next 12 months.
  9. Consumers are bullish: 53% say the economy will improve in the next six months and only 19% say it will worsen.
  10. On the retail shopping front, consumers say they will return to stores with less curbside pickup and delivery and more e-commerce.

Here is a deeper dive:

The “ready to go” segment soared from 34% in April 2020 to 61% in March 2021. The pessimistic “wait and see” group dropped from 29% in April 2020 to only 9% in March 2021.

AM/FM radio is the media platform to reach heavy spenders now

Compared to heavy TV viewers, heavy AM/FM radio listeners are +36% more likely to spend across a wide variety of categories.

Auto dealers have a greater likelihood of reaching new car buyers on AM/FM radio versus TV

Nielsen found that heavy AM/FM radio listeners are +18% more likely than heavy TV viewers to purchase a new vehicle in the next year.

The great American commute revs up

According to Advertiser Perceptions, marketers and agencies dramatically underestimate the state of U.S. worker commutes. Nielsen finds those working at home due to COVID-19 declined by more than half since April 2020. Two-thirds of workers now travel to their job, a +70% increase since last April.

In-person class attendance among children is on the rise

During the drive to school, AM/FM radio is on 91% of the time.

Consumers say they will be returning to stores, doing less curbside pickup and delivery, but still buying online

Consumers are bullish

Moody’s Analytics’ “Back-To-Normal Index,” a compilation of 37 economic indicators and business measures, reached an all-time high at an 86 index this week. Nielsen reports nearly three times as many say the economy will improve in the next six months versus those who say it will erode.

Things are looking up! Key takeaways:

  • More consumers are “ready to go” and resuming normal activity
  • Among the employed, more are working outside the home
  • More kids are attending in-person classes and AM/FM radio is on during the drive to school
  • Consumer retail outlook: More in-store visits and e-commerce
  • AM/FM radio is the soundtrack of America’s recovery and spending resurgence

Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer at CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One.

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