What do Milkshakes and Audio Have in Common?
Weird question, right? What could a milkshake and audio content possibly have in common? Turns out the two are much more alike to consumers than you might think, and this truth can greatly impact advertiser ROI.
The late, great Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen told the story of McDonald’s winning consumer insight that makes the connection between milkshakes and audio content. Some years ago, McDonald’s was struggling to compete in the milkshake category. They knew they had a quality product. Market research didn’t reveal anything lacking in ingredients, taste, or other key features. When they stopped focusing on the constitution of the product itself and asked a different question, researches stumbled upon a fascinating insight that paid huge dividends for the product and marketing teams. They asked milkshake consumers, “What job are you hiring the milk shake to do?” As it turned out, milkshakes kept people engaged during long commutes or job shifts. The best milkshakes for them were a consistency that lasted a long time and was not too filling so that it kept them occupied over a period of time. Donuts, soda, bananas, chocolate bars – none of them quite met the mark. Once the consumer benefit was clear, McDonald’s positioned the product and marketing to win. To listen to Clay Christensen’s story, watch this video.
The audio content industry has adapted to the market in a similar way. Like milkshakes, people employ audio content to engage them while their eyes and bodies are otherwise occupied. Driving, waiting in line, folding laundry, cleaning the house, taking public transit, exercising, doing yard work, paying bills are just a few of the prime listening moments. And with a low barrier to audio content production and ubiquitous wifi access, a whole new world of audio content options has become available above and beyond terrestrial radio and owned music. Simply turn on a radio, give a command to a smart speaker, or grab the phone and insert ear buds to access news, sports talk, music, DJs, and podcasts.
With so many options and portable access to audio content, it’s no wonder time spent listening is on the rise. Edison Research Share of Ear® study reveals a solid lift in time spent listening1.
The experience when a consumer “hires” audio content is intimate and hyper engaging, and the ads they are exposed to break through and stick in the consumer’s mind. The important key to successful audio advertising here, much like with McDonald’s milkshakes, is being relevant to consumer needs in the nooks and crannies in their daily schedules they’re filling with audio content.
So, to go back to the initial question, milkshakes and audio content both make the perfect companion to so many daily activities. But unlike milkshakes, you can consume as much audio content as you want without a single calorie.
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1 Edison Share of Ear, comparison of May vs Q1 2020
Tim Murphy, EVP, Corporate Business Development, Audacy