As the mindset of Americans continues to morph, the ways in which your listeners think, dream, and obsess may be undergoing important change. Given how little research most stations are doing these days, some of the fundamental ways in which consumers attitudes are moving may be flying under the radar.
A recent New York Times story about changing consumption patterns suggests that Americans are spending money - and their time - in increasingly different ways. They are purchasing less entertainment, and instead, focusing more time on the family, in the community, and even at less expensive (or free) places, like museums.
As we have seen in Listener Advisory Board groups during the past year or so, consumers are becoming less enamored with big, glitzy prizes. As many explain, taking off a week or more to take a vacation they won in a station contest could have job threatening consequences. And the tax hit they suffer from winning a multi-thousand dollar prize is often well outside their affordable boundaries.
This suggests rethinking the quality and quantity of prizes, and even the types of attractions that stations offer. Contests that offer a multitude of listeners the chance to win something of lessor value - movie passes or free lunches or a night out - might have more impact in today's economy.
And as the focus shifts to experiences, rather than material expenses, stations often have incredibly valuable "prizes" to offer that are well within promotional budgets. These might include going backstage at a concert, sitting in with the morning show, attending a hockey game with a popular DJ, or even getting to attend a music meeting at an Alternative station.
Through the years, the "Big Boy Toy Show" concept has been a popular NTR event, offering up big, expensive electronics and recreational gadgets. But as money tightens, and even the cost of enjoying these prices becomes unaffordable for many, it may be time to rethink station events.
Listener Appreciation Parties that allow listeners to hang out with the airstaff and enjoy a cover band might be more popular. Website features that show "Things to Do in Buffalo for Under $10" may be part of responding to a changing set of audience attitudes.