A recent study by Deloitte ("New American Pantry") highlights a major problem for brands these days: the recession has created a frenzy of savings, discounts, loyalty programs, and discount coupons.
And while consumers are out there looking for the next big deal, brand loyalty is out the window. In fact, half say that when shopping in a supermarket, there are only two or three brands they stick with.
In the process, brands matter less and savings matter more.
That’s good news for radio, a medium that is closely tied to local businesses. Since the recession first hit, we have championed couponing programs for radio because they represent a huge opportunity to tap into the mindset illustrated in this Deloitte study.
A website like Groupon is a great example of how etailers are capitalizing on our current conditions, setting up local web discount coupons for millions of Americans, sorted by location. I strongly suggest you sign up for it, plug in your local information, and start opening their daily emails. There is riveting impact and immediacy of an everyday "on sale" email (just ask my wife), and many of the deals are quite good.
There’s no reason why radio stations, clusters, and even companies couldn’t set up their own versions of Groupon, taking advantage of their local assets, knowledge, and contacts. And with the power of radio’s celebrities, there’s a “recommendation” angle to all of this that could help make this type of program even more successful for radio.
The Deloitte study also confirms the importance of loyalty programs. Overall, more than 8 in 10 respondents have at least one loyalty card, and two-thirds say they are essential/very important in the shopping experience.
Once again, the combination of an email database and station loyalty cards can create a powerful magnet for radio and retailers. These programs take time and effort to design, build, and administrate. Salespeople also need to be properly coached about their value and the opportunities they present. But given that sales staffs are now competing with Groupon (and several similar sites) for local retail business, there’s no reason not to head in this direction. And the advantage of a powerful cume audience is radio’s ace in the hole.
The recession may be taking its toll on all those brand managers, but for a medium that is locally focused, radio has the ability to work with local businesses to better establish and bolster brands, drive traffic, and please a fickle, fluid audience.
If radio is going to maximize audience engagement, and grow its share of the media pie, learning how to sell and market our brands differently is as important as streaming, podcasts, and all the other innovations that programmers and brand managers are pulling off on a regular basis.
Sales needs to step it up. Clients are looking for ideas that connect them directly to consumers. Sellers need to understand this and stop thinking about ratings, live reads, and remotes and focusing on a broader array of solutions that really interest clients, move listeners, and capitalize on radio’s assets.