Westwood One listener

There are roughly two hundred radio stations already playing nothing but Christmas music, a larger number than normal at this point on the calendar. One reason many stations flip to the format year after year is the amount of ad dollars tied to the strategy, especially from retailers looking to make their own holidays bright. Spending on radio is a smart strategy, according to new Nielsen research which finds heavy AM/FM listeners are 40% more likely to say they will spend more this holiday season than heavy viewers of TV.

“AM/FM radio is a holiday shopper reach machine,” says Lauren Vetrano, Director of Content Marketing at Cumulus Media and Westwood One. In a blog post, she shares the Nielsen custom survey results which show that 14% of heavy radio listeners are planning to ramp up their 2020 holiday spending, compared to 10% of adults overall. The Nielsen data is based on an online survey of 1,000 adults aged 18 and older.

Black Friday sales may not have the same impact as in previous years because of the pandemic, but retailers are still expecting a bump in sales during the coming weeks as Americans get into shopping mode.

One reason radio works so well for retailers is that the medium reaches more than nine in ten adults aged 25-54 each week, and that remains true during the holidays. Nielsen data shows 90% of adults 25-54 are reached by AM/FM radio during the week leading up to Thanksgiving and during the week of Christmas. Vetrano says that is what makes radio “the prime advertising vehicle for reaching shoppers trying to find last minute gifts.”

Retailers have traditionally poured ad dollars into the dayparts when people are hitting the shopping malls. Although in-store visits aren’t expected to be at the same level as in years past, that may change as December 25 draws closer. Vetrano points to a 2018 study from the Radio Advertising Bureau and Dial Report that found there was a substantial store traffic lift among those who were exposed to AM/FM radio campaigns. “According to multiple Nielsen return on advertising investment studies, AM/FM radio generates an average of $16 of retail sales for every $1 of radio advertising,” she says.

There is no denying the 2020 holiday season will be unlike any in recent memory, but many consumers are still planning to spend. The National Retail Federation has projected the average American will spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items such as decorations and food, and additional “non-gift” purchases for themselves and their families. NRF also says four in ten plan to start spending this month.