Radio reaches the majority of shoppers before they begin their shopping expeditions, exceeding most other media, including TV and the Internet, according to a study performed by Ball State University with Nielsen and the Council for Research Excellence in 2008.
One caveat: though the study was just released, the increasing rates of smartphone adoption may have altered these behaviors somewhat, the study results suggest that radio still dominates advertising messaging around certain important activities.
Overall, Ball State found that 62% of consumers who are going shopping listened to the radio just 14 minutes prior to commencing shopping, versus 42% of shoppers who saw TV in the 42-minutes preceding shopping.
This big margin is due mostly to radio's prime position in drive-time media consumption. Interestingly, shoppers displayed relatively light media consumption during their actual shopping expeditions, with a mere 17% talking on their mobile phones, while 16% viewed out-of-home TV, and 7% viewed other kinds of out-of-home video. Less than 3% accessed mobile Internet.
The data suggests that radio was effectively the last medium to reach the majority of shoppers before entering the shopping environment, at which point they become harder to reach.
Of course, these findings should be treated with some caution, as the rapid growth of smartphones over the last two years may be changing media consumption habits. From 2008-2010, the number of U.S. smartphone users tripled from 15 million to 45 million, according to separate figures from Nielsen and ComScore.
New technologies may also change drive-time listening habits to the detriment of traditional broadcast radio. For example, Aha Mobile is working to import Web-based audio to automobiles through smartphone apps, allowing drivers to safely consume (and create) interactive content. It does this by delivering a variety of text-based content converted into audio form. GPS data allows Aha Radio to deliver contextually relevant content based on the user's location.
In January, Pandora announced a deal with electronics manufacturer Pioneer Corp. that allows consumers to bring Pandora's personalized audio content to their automobiles. Pioneer is manufacturing a multipurpose navigation and media device, priced at $1,200, that will allow customers with iPhones to stream the online music service to their car stereos via the mobile devices -- after they download a new app that lets the devices link up.