Road To Revenue: AM/FM Radio Drives Auto Parts Purchasing


When it comes to buying auto parts, there are two main shopper types: ‘Do-it-yourselfers,’ who spend 16% more than the average, and ‘Mega-milers,’ who drive more than 200 miles weekly. The best way for advertisers to reach both of them? Radio.

The Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group has released insights from a recent study by MARU/Matchbox, surveying 805 auto parts shoppers to gauge the habits of America’s auto parts consumers.

Edison Research’s 2023 Share of Ear data shows AM/FM radio claims an 85% share of ad-supported audio in-car listening. In Q3, AM/FM’s share of listening in cars tied an eight-year high. Heavy listeners of these platforms are the most frequent shoppers and spenders in the auto parts category. The more time you spend in your car, the more likely you are to hear radio – and need new auto parts.

Auto aftermarket media scorecard
(Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group)

Auto industry professionals, comprising 16-17% of mega-milers and do-it-yourselfers, are seen as a significant media target due to their heightened spending on auto parts. Audio platforms, especially AM/FM radio and podcasts, are identified as prime advertising channels for these demographics, far outperforming TV.

Mega-milers are 37% more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners, while Do-it-yourselfers are 20% more likely than the average.

The top three radio formats to reach heavy auto parts buyers are Rock, Classic Rock, Top 40, Classic Hits, and Adult Contemporary. The remaining formats drop off fairly quickly afterward. Comedy and news listeners are more likely to need parts as a faster clip among frequent podcast listeners.

Auto aftermarket formats
(Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group)

In terms of brand awareness, AutoZone continues to lead with consistent unaided awareness over five years. O’Reilly Auto Parts follows, with mid-tier brands experiencing a decline. Unaided brand awareness, also known as “mental availability,” is a crucial driver of brand strength and market share.

Creative strategies emphasize the power of emotion-based advertising, suggesting a shift toward more entertaining and emotionally engaging content to build strong, memorable brands.

The blog closes with the words of Paul Feldwick: “I would like to encourage all those who work in advertising and brand management to suspend their ‘delicate feelings’ about what really creates popularity and fame, and to embrace the idea that advertising is at least as much showmanship as it is salesmanship. It is time to rediscover the fact that advertising builds brands best when it is entertaining, popular, and memorable, when it is not just a pitch, but a performance.”

O’Reilly Auto Parts can likely attest to that fact themselves, undoubtedly through song.


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