Consumers Emerging from Crisis with Focused Priorities

Change is coming. With virtually every State announcing plans to reduce restrictions[1], consumers are making plans to start living their ‘new normal’ lives. The pandemic has inspired many people to make bold decisions and changes to their daily lives and future. During the week of May 7th, 18% of online consumer conversations included the word ‘perspective,’ referencing re-evaluated and changed priorities. More than 30,000 comments flooded digital channels last month about shifting personal plans, a greater appreciation of life, increased support of smaller businesses and a commitment to being smarter about money management. [2] Consumers’ tone is unapologetic[3] as they announce decisions on where and how to shop, eat and work as restrictions ease.

The Ad Council’s ongoing Coping with COVID-19 study shows that since the eruption of the crisis, Americans are becoming increasingly less worried about job loss, health of friends and family and ability to pay bills. Instead, the Ad Council reports a surge in positive emotions such as feeling cheerful, confident, content, optimistic and relaxed, during the month of May.[4]

This positive consumer sentiment and forward-looking attitudes will propel spending and fuel sales. Entercom first detected upticks in consumer spend in mid-April through a Nielsen study that took the pulse of radio listeners in Chicago, NY and LA. The survey showed that across these major metropolitan areas, radio listeners were planning to spend on DIY projects around home, updating their wardrobes, and seeking health and financial advice.[5]

Nielsen’s national consumer tracker survey, fielded April 29 – May 1, further underscored the strength of the radio audience and identified ‘heavy radio listeners’ as the first to emerge from the crisis. Compared to typical U.S. adults, these heavy radio listeners are more likely to spend in every type of local business, including car/truck dealers (+67%), liquor stores (+32%) and on home improvement (+30%) as restrictions ease. Further identified as ‘optimists,’ this group is keeping their eyes on the horizon and planning ahead for large purchases. Look to heavy radio listeners to book vacations within a month of restrictions easing (+16%, compared to the average US adult). Within a year of restrictions, heavy radio listeners will push automotive and real estate sales as they are more likely than the average U.S. adult to make a car purchase or lease (+39%) or buy a home (+22%).

Entercom listeners[6] are well aligned with this mindset and keeping their feet on the pedal. In May, nine in 10 (89%) reported they will drive within days of restrictions easing and will order take out (92%). They are also planning to flock to local businesses in droves. Within a month of restrictions easing, seven in 10 will visit a coffee shop, go to a hair salon/barber, and dine out. Importantly, they are not delaying major purchases: Almost one-half (46%) will buy an appliance. In fact, 43% indicate they have not held back on major purchases during the crisis. Entercom listeners will be among the tourism industry’s first customers- about a third (30%) are planning to book a vacation within a month of restrictions easing.  Within five months’ of restrictions easing, more than one-half will travel by air (55%) and stay at a hotel (52%).

Entercom listeners are powering out of crisis & preparing to spend across categories. Within one month of restrictions easing they will:

listener graph1Source: Entercom Listener Survey, May 7-10, 2020

Entercom listeners are ready to hit the road. Within five months of restrictions easing, they will spend on:

listener graph2Source: Entercom Listener Survey, May 7-10, 2020

The time to reach these optimistic, avid shoppers is now. A review of the Entercom advertising effect in April shows that those advertisers who stayed on-air during the crisis, largely benefited from increased traffic to their digital properties and marked gains in new customers. In the top 25 DMAs, OTA advertising generated +43% lift in new user traffic to advertiser web sites.[7] Advertisers who pivot and deliver on consumers’ new priorities as they emerge from the crisis will earn their trust and business, and ride the wave of optimism to economic recovery.

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[2] Ad Council Covid Research,  Social Listening, May 2020
[3] Spark & Honey, May 2020
[4] Coping with COVID019 Study, The Ad Council, May 2020. For more information, visit:
[5] Nielsen Custom Survey, April 14-18, 2020.
[6] Entercom Listener Survey, May 7-10, 2020. P18+, n=549
[7] Analytical Owl, Entercom Analytics, March- April 2020.

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