Radio ads move the needle for home improvement

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RAB / Radio Advertising BureauFindings from RAB’s Finding Consumer Trends (F.C.T.) Report show that when consumers are determining their next home improvement project, radio ads influence that decision. Also, listener trust is positively influenced when a favorite radio station personality promotes a particular home improvement project or service – especially among 18-34 year olds.


Conducted from 10/29 to 11/19, the survey queried over 12,300 respondents aged 18+ about their home improvement plans, timelines and estimated budgets.  Of those surveyed:

•           30% plan on starting their home improvement project in the next six months.

•           Kitchens and bathrooms are the top 2 inside home improvement projects regardless of respondent age group or gender.

•           By far, the top outdoor project is the addition of a patio or deck.

•           The majority of respondents are do-it-yourselfers.

While the majority of respondents view themselves as do-it-yourselfers, a large portion also engages a local contractor to complete the project.  When it came to contractor selection, reputation is the most important consideration, outweighing cost and surprisingly online reviews.

“The findings from the survey demonstrate radio’s ability to persuade and influence behavior,” claims Erica Farber, RAB President and CEO.  “With 75% of the survey respondents being homeowners, it’s clear that radio is a key medium for home improvement companies and services to reach their target audience.”

“The information from this report provides RAB members with the information they need to drive sales for their stations,” says Ruth Presslaff, President, Presslaff Interactive Revenue.  “The identification of consumers’ home improvement goals and preferences is certain to open doors for radio sellers and create a dialogue with local home improvement businesses and services.”

A webinar featuring the national results will be presented by the RAB and Ruth Presslaff 1/30, at 10 AM Central and 3 PM Central.

The RAB ‘s FCT Report service helps radio stations sell locally and highlight radio listeners’ buying power.  Developed in partnership with Presslaff Interactive Revenue, the reports are turn-key online surveys of a station’s audience that provide salable insights and qualified leads on purchase interests in top ad categories.

More facts from the study:

–If you’re looking to reach homeowners, with all the needs homeownership portends, this survey shows radio reaches them, and in great numbers. While the latest Census numbers* put home ownership at 65.3%, over 75% of the radio listeners who responded to this survey own their homes.
–Similar national reports show home ownership for those under 35 at just under 37%; our 18-34 year old respondents report a homeownership rate 21 points higher, at 58%.
–Based on these responses, radio can shower advertisers with bathroom prospects and cook up those likely to upgrade their kitchens. The top five projects for inside the house are: Bathrooms, kitchens, paint and wallpapering, replacing or refinishing floors, and replacing or adding carpet. In fact, there’s a great deal of overlap between the top two choices: those looking to upgrade their bathroom and those looking to upgrade their kitchen. More than half of those interested in improving their kitchen are thinking the same about their bathroom; exactly half of those thinking about upgrading a bathroom are thinking about the kitchen, too. This makes radio campaigns highlighting the strength of kitchen and bath products particularly efficient for these big ticket projects. If an advertiser can get the business for one, they stand a chance of getting the business for both.
–There’s need beyond kitchens and bathrooms: New appliances, new fixtures, window treatment, closet organization, work on the basement, upgraded lighting, tiling and work on the living room are on the “to-do” list for at least 1 in 10 of our homeowner respondents. Women are generally more intent on this work than men, and 18-34 year olds more likely than other age group to do these upgrades.
–Landscaping is first on the list of upgrades to the outside of the home, noted by over one-third of the homeowner respondents. That’s opportunity for nurseries, home improvement stores, lumberyards and landscape architects to attract customers for landscaping and the high interest category of adding patios and porches (the first choice for those adding to their home).
–These homeowners are also interested in painting/power washing, fencing, walkways and driveway repair, and replacing windows and adding skylights. Over 1 in 10 have an interest in adding or replacing gutters and downspouts, doors, roofs, exterior lighting, garages, or siding.
–At least 1 in 5 are planning to add Patios, Decks or Porches and just over 1 in 10 are planning to add a new bathroom.
–In all instances, those between 18 and 34 are up to 9 points more intent on adding rooms to their homes, versus all respondents.
–Environmentally friendly products are an important consideration for just under half of these radio listener respondents. Only 7% are flat out not interested in environmentally friendly products.
–Of those planning to make home improvements, 30% are thinking about them in the next six months, and 37% in the next year. Twenty-five percent have yet to set a start date.
–The most popular price point for homeowners who have determined a budget, and plan to start their Home Improvement projects in the next 12 months, is between $2500 and $5000. Just over 25% have yet to determine their budget, opening opportunities to educate and inform respondents on costs and planning through advertising, workshops for the Do It Yourself crowd, seminars, online tutorials, etc.
–Forty-seven percent of all respondents identify themselves as a ‘Do It Yourselfer’, with nearly 2/3 of those 18 to 34 identified as DIYers. Twenty-eight percent split the workload between a contractor and themselves. With a full 75% doing all or some of the work themselves, advertisers should focus their business as the source for how-to, tools and materials.
–Home Depot and Lowe’s are the top two choices for home improvement projects. Ace was the third choice, with Discount Department Stores and Local Hardware Stores rounding out the top five. There was little difference in shopping preferences based on the type of home improvement project the respondents were planning.
–The need for education in product, procedure and pricing would be the opportunity for local businesses. They can use these results to target likely customers and provide information on how to proceed with projects of any size, creating trust and long-term relationships that grow alongside customers’ growing home needs.
–The F.C.T. Reports consistently uncover useful marketing and media insights. This last section provides important copy points for creating commercials for contractors and wraps up with information on radio advertising’s impact on the home improvement category, as well as the effect of radio commercials done by station personalities.
–When choosing a contractor, reputation trumps pricing for all but the 18 to 34 year olds (and then by only 3 points). Pricing ranks second. While online search is the number one source for remodeling information, when choosing a contractor, online reviews rank behind reputation, pricing, recommendations from friends and family, the contractor being licensed, the contractor’s availability, BBB Accreditation and referrals from professionals. This information should help shape meaningful campaigns for local contractors.
–Fully one third of all respondents selected radio and television commercials as the advertising that influences their choice of home improvement projects. Those were followed by newspaper, online, magazine, and “other.” Social Media was noted by 11%, although it was 6 points higher for 18-34 year olds. Yellow Page advertising was chosen by less than 5%.
–At least 25% of all respondents said radio station personalities increased their trust in home improvement commercials.
–Radio listener respondents own homes at a higher rate than the general population.
–There are multiple major renovations these homeowners will do and products they need. The list of improvement is lengthy:
o Just under half are looking to upgrade an interior room, with bathrooms and kitchens highest on the list.
o 1 in 5 are looking to add a room.
o Just over 1/3 are looking to upgrade the exterior of their home.
o 18-34 are strong targets for home improvement dollars
— Three quarters of the respondents identify themselves as DIYers.
–While most shop at the big box home improvement retailers there’s opportunity for local businesses to carve out a niche by creating relationships and providing the DIY folks with how-to information.
–Lead time for opportunity is great. Plan ahead:
o 30% intend to start their projects in the next 6 months.
o 37% in the next year.
–When hiring a contractor, reputation trumps price.
o Surprisingly, online reviews are not as impactful as multiple other criteria, including reputation, referrals, licensing and BBB Accreditation.
— When it comes to media choices to reach consumers that are considering home improvements:
o Radio advertising is highly effective for reaching and influencing this group.
— Additionally, at least 25% of all respondents said radio station personalities increased their trust in home improvement commercials.
o Online is important for research.
o Social media ads barely make an impression.
o Yellow pages are inconsequential.

RBR-TVBR observation: In 2012, The Home Depot was the top radio advertiser of them all, with 2,093,047 spots. That is what moved the needle in this study, and it proves that radio advertising works. Home Depot is doing very well—the world’s largest home improvement retailer, reported sales of $19.5 billion for Q3 of fiscal 2013, a 7.4% increase from Q3 of fiscal 2012.


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.