As Holiday Shopping Season Gears Up, AM/FM Radio Delivers Results at the Register

By Westwood One Archives
Cover image for  article: As Holiday Shopping Season Gears Up, AM/FM Radio Delivers Results at the Register

November is an important time in American commerce.  Beverages of choice shift from pumpkin to peppermint, and colorful reds and greens begin to appear at stores across the country as retailers prepare to end the year on a strong note with holiday sales.  To understand the holiday shopping mindset of consumers this season, Westwood One commissioned a study with MARU/Vision Critical. Here's what we found:

Holiday Shopping Is A Substantial Retail Opportunity

More than two out of three (68%) of consumers are planning to spend more than $300 this season, with the average amount per consumer at around $380.  How does this break out by demographic?  Millennials will spend an average of $350.  Gen Xers and Boomers are forecasted to spend $390 with seniors spending slightly more at $405.

Consumers are looking to keep their holiday spending consistent, with 82% planning to spend the same or more during the 2018 holiday season as they had in the past year.  Among the most generous consumers this holiday season?  Millennials.  Eighty-four percent of adults 18-34 are planning to spend the same or more versus last year.

In-Store Shopping Is Still Alive

Ninety-two percent of consumers are planning to purchase holiday items at a brick-and-mortar retail.  The in-store shopping experience is still a rite of passage across generations -- as 89% of Millennials (adults 18-34), 93% of Gen Xers (adults 35-49), 92% of Boomers (adults 50-64) and 91% of seniors (Adults 65+) plan to shop at one.

Make no mistake; online shopping is also a shopping destination.  Eighty-one percent of consumers plan to shop online for holiday gifts this season. However, the department store experience is still holding its own.  Sixty-six percent of all consumers plan to purchase holiday items at a department store during the holiday season.

Black Friday Shopping Will Extend Through the Holiday Weekend

More than half (52%) of consumers are planning to shop for holiday gifts during the busy Thanksgiving weekend.  While half (49%) of consumers are planning to shop on Cyber Monday, nearly as many (47%) are planning to shop on the traditional Black Friday.  An additional 12% are planning to alternate turkey and stuffing with holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day itself.

The most likely shoppers to brave the Black Friday crowds?  Millennials.  Adults 18-34 are slightly more apt to shop on Black Friday (62%) than Cyber Monday (58%).

Using Radio to Really Reach Holiday Shoppers  

With competition for foot traffic and holiday spending dollars at an all-time high, retailers are looking for new ways to drive foot traffic and influence consumer purchase behavior.  Digital platforms may seem like an attractive option to impact consumers both on-air and online.  However, digital advertising carries significant limitations for marketers, including increased consumer use of ad blocking technology.

According to Chris Weil, Chairman and CEO of Momentum Worldwide, ad blocking is on the rise.  Additionally, the medium faces transparency concerns, as "only 25% to 40% of digital ads are reaching consumers."  Brand safety concerns continue to be at the forefront in the world of digital advertising.   As Weil noted at last year's Forecast conference in New York City, "If you want content you are not sure is safe, go with digital.  Radio is safe ... If you want to move stuff off the shelves, you go to radio."  Retailers can boost their foot traffic and sales by adding AM/FM radio to their media plan.

As America's No. 1 mass reach medium, AM/FM radio delivers a large base of shoppers, including during the holiday season.  According to Nielsen, 93% of all American adults 25-54 listen to AM/FM radio during the week, including on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  That's near universal impact on American consumers during peak shopping periods.

AM/FM radio also delivers holiday shoppers in their cars, right before the point of purchase, as two-thirds of radio listening occurs away from home, giving marketers the power to meaningfully impact those brick-and-mortar purchases.  In contrast, most audio streaming occurs at home as mood or background music.

Given retailers' dependence on AM/FM radio to provide new sales and return on marketing dollar investments, Nielsen's return on advertising spend (ROAS) studies are welcome news:  Department stores that advertised on radio earned a $17 return in sales for every $1 spent on radio advertising; for mass merchandisers, the return was $16 for every radio dollar spent.

The net-net of AM/FM radio is as the "one stop shop" for holiday retail sales with universal reach, out-of-home deliveries and proven retail sales impact.

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