Digital Audio

Exploring the Next Phase Pt 1: The Quest for Comfort

Lauren D. Williams, Senior Director, Strategic Audio + Vertical MarketingMay 6, 2020

Based on an Exclusive Pandora Listener Study

As the majority of the United States enters week 8 of quarantine, it seems that we have hit a wall. Our living rooms have been turned into offices, movie theaters and exercise facilities. We have binged watched everything from a Indian American teenager navigating high school to a man who loved his tigers so much (debatable) to the point that now he’s in jail for it. We’ve transformed into home chefs and bakers, displaying our beautiful meals and endless amounts of bread on social media (not shown: the mess leftover).

It’s official: we’re moving into the next phase.

But, what exactly does this next phase look like? This new normal has taken its toll on all of us both mentally and physically.

In search for answers, we tapped into 1st party data via Soundboard—our proprietary panel of 75,000 of our listeners—to get real-time, first-hand responses from the consumers you are trying to reach. Fielded from April 10-15, 2020, this study asked listeners to share how COVID-19 has changed how they are approaching current and future purchases, how technology is aiding everything from education to their finances, and the role of content plays in their lives.

While everyone reacts to times like this a bit differently, the data uncovered one major finding: everyone, both consumers and marketers alike, are on a quest to gain back some sort of control. How? Through comfort, connection, and consistency.

Today, we’ll explore where consumers are finding comfort...

Burgers, Fries, and Drive-thrus

When we first entered into quarantine, we were ambitious. Cooking up elaborate meals and sharing our ‘food porn’ to our social media networks. But at some point, even that started to take its toll. In a quest for relief from cooking and doing dishes, our listeners turned to outside help to feed themselves and their families. It’s like getting french fries at your fingertips!

  • 53% of Pandora A18+ are likely to visit a QSR drive-thru during the pandemic
    • Parents with Children under 18 - 115 Index
    • Hispanic Parents with Children under 18 - 144 Index
    • Hispanic Americans 18+ - 122 Index
    • Black Americans 18+ - 126 Index
  • 46% have used a QSR or 3rd-party app for food pickup or delivery during Covid-19—many for the first time ever
  • 23% of those indicated it was their first time using an app to order'
  • 42% of Pandora A18-34 are likely to order delivery from a Quick Service Restaurant to their home
    • Hispanics 25-34 – 168 Index, Hispanics 18-34 – 150 Index, Adults 25-34 – 132 Index

(Online) Retail Therapy

A few weeks ago we were all coming together against a common enemy: toilet paper hoarders. But as things settle down, spare time and access to online shopping inevitably equals a click on that purchase button. As retailers continue to see a lift in sales for tops so that we can all look our best on our video chats, our listeners are ready to spend some dollars with brands willing to communicate and meet their product needs.

When asked what companies could provide to help ease the load, they answered:

  • 72% Sales and promotions, W25-34 - 111 Index
  • 60% Buy one get one offers, A18-34 - 112 Index, AA - 110 Index
  • 56% Coupons, A18-24 - 123 Index, AA - 121 Index
  • 55% Rewards for purchases, AA - 120 Index

Content Is QuaranKING

As we all look for something that can help us through this process, we’re leaning on content and activities to keep us entertained. Whether it’s binge watching the latest trending show, finding new recipes, working out virtually or Marie Kondo-ing the living space, listeners are continuing to consume content like crazy and stay busy.

  • 59% of our listeners are spending 2-5 hours binge watching a day
  • One in four are considering adding a new subscription, led by Disney+ and Hulu, A18-24

When asked which activities listeners are prioritizing, they answered:

  • 59% recipes and cooking, W25-34 - 122 Index
  • 57% working out and physical activity, AA25-54 - 110 Index
  • 47% home organization and small remodeling projects, HHI $100K+ - 114 Index
  • 42% fun activities for the family, HA - 134 Index
  • 39% personal care regimes, A18-24 - 122 Index
  • 36% lawn and garden projects, AA55+ - 139 Index

Does This Mask Go With My Bikini?

Cabin fever is real. So real, in fact, that many are already planning their next vacation—much sooner than one would think. And while most are keeping it domestic, younger and diverse audiences are going big with international plans.

  • 77% of Pandora listeners A18+ plan to travel domestically within the first year after it is deemed safe to travel
  • 78% Plan to travel for leisure by car/road trip within 6 months after it is deemed safe to travel
  • A18-34 are 11% more likely to travel by airplane within a month
  • A18-34 are 12% more likely to travel by car within a month
  • A18-34 are 17% more likely to stay overnight at a hotel within a month
  • A18-34 are 29% more likely to use public transportation within a month
  • 27% plan to travel internationally within the first year after it’s deemed safe
    • HA18+ are 49% more likely to travel internationally within one year after it being deemed safe
    • AA18+ are 13% more likely to travel internationally within one year after it being deemed safe

Sound First

After checking in with our listeners, it’s obvious they are craving comfort—from food, activities, travel, content and retail. While there’s nothing like hot, crispy waffle fries and a bunch of Amazon deliveries to make you happy, sound plays a critical role in comforting consumers. In fact, 64% of our listeners think that music apps have made their lives easier during this time.

So, what does all of this mean for you and how should you take action?

Listen. The most important part of a conversation is the listening. Take a moment to truly tune into your consumers’ needs and priorities during this time. And, not just once, but often. The situation is changing on a daily basis, which means your consumers needs will, too.

Explore. In today’s world, the options are endless. Identify ways your brand can engage consumers and deliver the comfort they are looking for.

Activate. There’s no denying that right now it’s hard to connect with consumers in an authentic way. However, sound continues to be one of the most powerful storytelling tools even in the midst of crisis. As more people lean on it as an escape, for relief or as a mood enhancer, advertisers and marketers alike need to activate or even expand their audio strategy to truly capitalize on the power of it.

Be on the lookout for the next episode: The Search for Connection. Until then, please poke around SoundCheck or reach out to your sales rep for more information.

Source: Pandora Soundboard, COVID-19 Verticals Study, (N=2,860), April 2020

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