Friday, October 31, 2014

Tale of Two Bar Graphs: Country Shares and Music Scores

If you want to see just how long the current ‘up’ ratings cycle has been going on for country, this just-released Nielsen bar chart and This Week In Music article affords a nice 10,000 foot view:

According to Nielsen, country is the “top national format among Millennials (aged 18-34) and Generation X’ers (aged 35-49). And audience share has grown 17% with teens (12-17 year-olds) over the last two years…Among Boomers (aged 50-64), it’s the second most popular national format after News/Talk radio."

To get an idea of how music scores corresponded with this chart, I pulled A&O&B data from 2006 to 2013 to compare our music research with the Nielsen shares (at A&O&B, we’ve been tracking music research scores since 1998).

While our data is primarily from 25-54’s, it’s still easy to see parallel growth and the difference between the right and left sides of both graphs.

Compared to our music scores from 2006-2008, those for 2011-2013 averaged eight percentage points higher (visualize the chart without the two middle bars, 2009 and 2010).

Overall scores for both the top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of the year were also higher.

In 2013 however, the gap between the Total Positive scores for the year’s top 1/3 testers vs. the bottom 1/3 widened slightly helping to explain the softer scores.  

More significantly, for the second straight year, the Like A Lot ("passion" score) gap between the top and bottom 1/3 widened as well.

Now, as the current Boom approaches its 6th year, the ongoing challenge for programmers isn’t finding songs listeners will like. Overall scores are still good – certainly compared to the pre-Boom years.

The challenge is identifying and aggressively exposing those high passion songs for an ever widening cume and fan base.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

TSL: Profiting from a Limited Time Only Strategy

“The problem with your business,” the consultant explained, “is that your customers are saying, ‘If I don’t buy from you today, I’ll buy from you tomorrow.’”

That discussion wasn’t about radio, but it certainly could have been.

Each time a listener decides to listen tomorrow instead of today, the opportunity for an additional listening occasion is not only gone now, it's a possibility/probability that there won’t be any listening tomorrow either – especially if the decision to not listen today was rooted in too many “average” experiences.

On the one hand, predictability is important:  imaging (packaging), brand personality, talent, delivering and occasionally exceeding expectations, etc.

On the other hand, if the content never changes and yesterday’s show sounds pretty much like last week’s and last month’s and last year’s, a lack of listener enthusiasm can be manifest in “I’ll listen tomorrow” behavior.

The solution? The PSL – Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Metaphorically of course.

The PSL is a Limited Time Only (LTO) event. It gets attention and creates urgency, while combining the familiar, traditional brand expectations with something fresh.

The result for Starbucks is increased traffic.

How much? According to, in the 4th quarter of 2013 Starbucks saw 5% more foot traffic and 7% more sales - roughly $800-million worth of PSLs.

Knowing anything good deserves pre-promotion, Starbucks allowed some of their best customers to buy the drink early.

Taco Bell is also adept at the LTO strategy marrying familiarity with fervor via limited time menu items. They're also pre-promoters. Fans of the Beefy Crunch Burrito already know that its long-awaited return to the menu will happen nationwide on December 20th. Check it out on Facebook.

Radio’s LTO time line is different of course - it may only be a couple of breaks.

But, like the PSL or Beefy Crunch Burrito, our version of the LTO should:

  1. Be in-sync with and polish core values
  2. Have sufficient crave-ability to generate traffic and word of mouth
  3. Appear on a regular cycle
  4. Be well-promoted
  5. Have an anticipated arrival and be missed when it's gone
One break or one month of something special, radio LTO’s are anecdotes for to the ennui-driven decision to listen tomorrow instead of today.