Catch Them On The Transition


(By Bob McCurdy) Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage and one man in his time plays many parts.” And to play many different parts one must “transition.” In a concert setting there’s a transition from one movement to another, in TV and the theatre it is the passage from one scene to another via sound effects, music, etc. The dictionary defines “transition” as movement, passage or change from one state, position, stage, to another. Reaching a consumer when they are experiencing a “role transition” is good for an advertiser for several reasons, and radio happens to be the premiere transition medium of all.

When someone is transitioning roles, their mindset — but more importantly their needs to fulfill that role — will also be evolving. This transitioning is most likely to occur in morning and afternoon drive Monday-Friday but also to some degree throughout the day during the lunch hour. When transitioning, the person’s world, mindset, and needs do a 180, providing an advertiser with an active, engaged, and receptive mind to influence.

Transitioning from being a parent who gets the kids off to school, to a business executive as he/she gets in their car to go to work, results in a different mindset, set of responsibilities and needs. When jumping in the car to do errands during the lunch hour, the transitioning continues. And finally in the evening seguing back to their parenting role, stopping at the grocery store to pick up some supplies, picking up art material for a kid’s project or stopping to pick up dinner, their role again morphs and AM/FM radio is with them every step of the way.

The late Erwin Ephron, one of the giants in the ad world once said, “The most important environment of all is what’s going on in the consumers mind at the time of exposure,” and radio’s ability to deliver messaging as listeners are transitioning to different roles, reaches consumers not only when the offer can be most relevant, but also when they can do something about it.

How important is it to reach consumers as they transition? Very. In 2009, Arbitron conducted a study which concluded that over 2/3 of all consumers frequently or sometimes make a purchasing decision while driving. Don’t let the date of the study be of concern. The results remain fundamentally sound. Broad behavioral/attitudinal studies have a considerably longer shelf life due to people’s attitudes and behaviors being considerably more static than specific station listening or viewing habits. While they might be listening to different stations, the chances are awfully good that the U.S. driver is thinking about the same “life” stuff they did a decade ago. Some highlights from this “Out of Home” Study follow:

– How often do you think about and make shopping decisions while in your car?

  • 68% frequently/sometimes

– In general when do you make the decision to stop at a store on your way home from work?

  • 55% earlier in the day
  • 38% on your way home

The answers to both these questions speak to a key radio strength: reaching people in the automobile. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Study, 90% of Americans commute alone (a captive audience) and AM/FM radio with its 87% share of ad-supported audio provides an advertiser with one more opportunity to influence listeners as they transition between roles.

We know that advertising has its greatest effect when the customer is in the market to buy and when the messaging is received closest to the actual purchase, both in time and geographically (propinquity). And while it’s the creative’s job to influence which brand is ultimately purchased, it’s the medium’s job to communicate the creative/messaging within this key “window of opportunity.” One of these key windows is when the consumer is “transitioning.”

It’s another important radio advantage to highlight as we go about effectively painting the “Why radio” picture. Paint away with confidence.

Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]


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