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Ideas and technique to help you promote and image radio

Testing our loyalty

I carry a heavily-stamped loyalty card for every coffee shop in town. Does that represent an awful lot of loyalty or none whatsoever? I’m not so sure – loyalty is hard to measure.

A couple of weeks ago John Myers wrote a piece in which he highlighted the falling number of average hours attributed to commercial local radio over the last ten years. He questioned whether listeners’ loyalty is dwindling.

Then yesterday The Guardian’s Elisabeth Mahoney published a cute post celebrating what she calls the ‘amazing weirdness’ of radio station loyalty. Elisabeth mentions the oft-quoted but seldom-attributed figure of two-and-a-half as the number of stations listened to per week by a typical listener.

This metric is a good indication of direct ‘station loyalty’ irrespective of the amount of time spent listening because it measures only promiscuity. But is the number right?

I was curious and wanted to look into this in a bit more detail so I asked the independent radio marketing and research agency Hallett Arendt to run a platform analysis on the available Rajar data for the UK. Here’s what the data suggests:

Number of stations listened to per week by platform

  • Listeners who use AM/FM consume an average of 2.9 stations per week on analogue radio and this has increased from around 2.6 since 2007. In short, these listeners are more promiscuous than they used to be.
  • Listeners who use DAB (the most popular digital platform by far) consume 3.5 stations per week on the platform. They enjoy greater choice and, it seems, take advantage of it. This has remained broadly consistent for the last five years.
  • Listeners using the internet and digital television consume around 3.8 stations per week that way. The DTV figure is broadly flat over the last 5 years while the Internet one has trended down a tad.

One thing’s clear – as digital radio gains increased market share more listeners will move from the behaviour of the blue line to that described by the purple one. That suggests an extra 0.6 stations weekly.

So listeners take advantage of extra choice when it’s available to them and even analogue listeners are becoming more adventurous.

Tease ahead

Next time I’ll look at what this might mean for our promotions strategies as we aim to build hours in an era of increased choice and willingness to explore it.

Meanwhile, please show some loyalty to John Myers by pre-ordering his new book. Proceeds go to charities which include the Radio Academy.

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