Understanding the Listener Market by Chris Jordan

Understanding the Listener Market

How far have we
moved away from listener driven radio?  Most would say slightly, others would say not
at all.  But how sure can one be when
getting to a justified answer.  It is a
well-known fact that radio research analysis is still a fairly new born and
growing industry in South Africa.  There
is however a number of interesting studies that have indicated to a new born
understanding on listener behaviourism rooted in South African culture.
So
many considerations.

·      
How do
we move ahead with what some would call a “limited knowledge” on statistical
listener behaviour?

·      
As of
late, we are finding that stations’ perspectives are lodged firmly in
dangerous stereotypes. 

·      
How
accurate are in-house focus groups in effective strategy roll outs across
programming formats? 

·      
Should
they be run more regularly, across larger demographics, or structured entirely
differently? 

Most stations draw
up detailed listener profiles to help
try to understand moving forward in their strategic programming.

A short example of a listener profile
would look as follows for a typical male listener of a commercial adult contemporary
radio station.

Name
John van Vuuren
Age
28
Lives
Northcliff, Johannesburg
Drives
Toyota Yaris
Music
Top 40 hits, Classics (categorized by rock, dance, pop from up to 10
years back)
Motivates him
First time home buyer, settled in career – but looking for a more
senior position/promotion in the next 3 years.  Most likely a family man with one child.
Listener
behaviour
Passive, has perhaps entered a station competition 1 – 5 times in
his life.
Listening times
On his way to and from work Mon to Fri, up to 19: 45pm.  Very passively over weekends at home, on
his way to a friend’s, or out somewhere.
 
 

 

Why would this help? 

Well,
first of all getting into the mind of your listener is where good radio is
born.  Everything from what you say in
your links to what promotions you air, to what ads are broadcast should play to
the psyche of your listener.  

I was
told a couple of years back that broadcasters have grown too accustomed to what
THEY think their listeners want to
hear.  But when was the last time any one
of us went to a local pub, mall or hangout to really observe conversations,
lifestyle or fashion trends etc. of the people that are listening to us while
we are on air?

Yes,
with a lot of “conservative” content
(this would be content that is a “given” in the conversations of our listening
public) we can accurately guess what will work on air.  These would be topics like public holiday
related content, national elections and other political related topics etc.

But,
shows run 5 times a week, 52.177 times a year, for 3 to 4 hours at a time.  Much sooner rather than later – a successful
broadcaster understands that a closer ear is needed to be placed amongst
his/her listening public in order to remain ahead of the pack and maintain
growth in the shows appeal and listenership.

If we
understand that John (above) is mostly a passive listener with an unchallenged
taste in his music and preference in daily behaviour– our programming can be
catered accordingly.  If we know that
John has certain career and personal goals – we can sell the correct product
placement to our advertisers targeting listeners like John. 

You get
the picture, right?

Listener behaviour has become a complex monster with many heads that
need to be managed as a whole.  Long gone
are the days that we classify listener likes/dislikes and behaviours according
mostly to something as flippant as the colour of their skin or their
gender.  We live in an age that promotes
an open-minded hybrid way of enjoying our lifestyles. 

Radio
being the most reflective of a media consumer’s lifestyle should encompass this
metamorphic animal in its day-to-day doings.

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