Broadcasters have long believed that radio acts as a mood elevator, able to make people feel better, lift their spirit or provide comfort or relaxation after a rough day. Now new independent research confirms that notion. Among people listening to the radio, mood is more likely to be good and even more likely to be very good.
The data comes courtesy of new research looking at consumers age 18-64 provided exclusively to Inside Radio by USA Touchpoints.
Through the morning and well into the evening, radio listeners report themselves in a better mood than people in general. The findings are from USA Touchpoints’ cross-platform measurement service, where participants keep an electronic diary of their media consumption and emotional states. Participants report mood each half-hour of the study with a discreet response from a five-point scale ranging from very bad mood to very good mood.
“Overwhelmingly, people in America and Canada too claim to be in a good mood or very good mood but it’s even more so [when listening to] radio,” says Paul Street, director of global research and analytics at USA Touchpoints parent Reality Mine. From 9am-2pm radio scores a few points higher than the general population but the lift from radio grows to 5 points from 2:30pm-6pm. “We’re simply seeing people reporting themselves to be in a better mood while listening to radio on weekdays,” Street says.
Amy Vokes, senior VP of research and insight at Urban One, says the results match her company’s own internal research. “If you think about what motivates and drives people to listen to their favorite radio station, it’s to be entertained, informed and to connect—in essence to feel engaged, whether with personalities or the music itself,” Vokes says. “That’s very typical feedback that we get from our listeners.”
Emotions too are reported by participants each half-hour of the study, and they have a range of 23 emotions. While listening to radio, Americans are 7% more likely to report they are happy, 35% more likely to say they are feeling confident, 46% more likely to report they are excited and 51% more likely to say they feel hopeful. Conversely if you’re listening to radio you’re 9% less likely to report feeling lonely and 13% less likely to say you’re bored. “There are all kinds of overachievements in positive emotions and underachievements in the negative ones for radio,” Street says.
The findings raise a chicken-or-egg question about radio and listener emotions. Are consumers in a good mood to begin with so they tune to radio? Or do they end up on radio and feel better because of it? While this research doesn’t answer that question, broadcasters say both scenarios apply. Some listeners are already in a great mood and turn to radio to enhance it, Vokes says. Others have had a rough day at work and tune in to feel some release or comfort or to relax or feel hopeful.
Not only is radio providing these lifts as a whole but particular genres may be even stronger in some areas. Americans are three times as likely to feel hopeful while listening to AC than during their daily life, 47% more likely to feel excited while listening to alternative, 75% more likely to feel confident while listening to rock and twice as likely to feel excited while listening to urban music than during their daily life.
Aggregating confident, excited and hopeful consumers creates a desirable environment for advertisers especially when many brands are concerned about undesirable environments for their messages in some digital advertising. “There is a connection between the listener and that radio station, a feeling of comfort, a feeling of hope, connection and enjoyment,” Vokes says. “When you are in that environment and listening and connecting to that radio station there is no question that there is a higher propensity in the advertising environment for success.”
“We know that people purchase emotionally so to be able to tap into the emotions and leverage that for your message makes perfect sense,” Street says. “We know that people aren’t processing a lot of things rationally so it’s the emotions we can leverage for advertising.”
The study may help explain why fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell rely so heavily on radio in their marketing mix. Consumers are 24% more likely to say they are hungry while listening to the radio and 80% more likely to say they are thirsty. For advertisers, “the environment becomes helpful because you’re simply addressing a feeling that people are experiencing while listening,” Street says. “It’s a virtuous cycle.”
“Radio’s got a great story to tell of people being excited and active while listening,” Street concludes. “It’s capturing people amidst their daily lives.”