Home working is here to stay. According to KPMG, just 31% of businesses expected their working operations to return to normal this year, while just 45% expected a return to normality in 2022. So, we are going to be at home for some time to come.

Radio has always provided companionship, but over the last year its importance grew further. As we stayed at home, radio became a socially distanced friend that we invited in daily. Our favourite presenters played our favourite songs and provided us with all the latest news. 90% of commercial listeners said they tuned in because radio keeps them informed and 83% because it improves their mood. As a result, listening while working at home increased dramatically. In a listener survey conducted in April 2020, the Radiocentre found that 45% of commercial radio listeners working from home listened to more radio than before the COVID-19 pandemic. During this year’s Jan-April lockdown, this rose to 50%.

So, more people are going to be spending more time working from home. But what is the value of this audience? And what are their spending intentions? Radiocentre recently decided to find out.

Firstly, the new research demonstrates that this is an affluent audience. 84% are ABC1, 63% are homeowners and 45% have a household income above the national average. They are also responsive to advertising. Over half (52%) of commercial radio listeners who work from home full time agree that when they hear something advertised on the radio, they will often look it up online. With online listening increasing dramatically during lockdown, and the ease at which a listener can act on a commercial message heard via PC, laptop or smartphone, the synergy between online and radio becomes increasingly stronger.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on savings too. 63% of the aforementioned group have saved money since the pandemic began. So not only is this group likely to have a higher household income than the national average – they are also increasingly cash rich. As the brakes come off and the opportunities to spend increase, this audience will continue to be of great importance to businesses.

Back in May 2020, the Radiocentre study ‘Bounce-back & Beyond’ asked commercial radio listeners who work from home whether they intended to increase their spend during that month’s initial lockdown relaxation. When they compared the data from 2020 to the most recent study in 2021, they found this group is eager to spend its cash, with much higher projected spend increases than in 2020. Notably, there is an increasing tendency to spend on activities and travel versus last year.

The pandemic has given us time to reflect on life priorities and dream of our next steps in life. Not only are WFH listeners reflecting on their work/life balance (74%) but many of them are planning significant life events (85%). These events range from holidays to moving house to having another child. Making major home improvements (21%) and buying a new car (18%) score highly, but way ahead of anything else is the desire to go on holiday. Over half of this group (57%) intend to go on a big holiday within 6 months of lockdown restrictions being lifted.

Lastly, the study found that the work from home group has moved to more localised shopping. 73% say that are looking forward to visiting their local high street again and 58% say they have been making more of an effort to support local business. Encouragingly, given the spending power of this group, 45% of those working from home say they are more receptive to local advertising.

So, what about the future? Are we heading back to full time office work? The Radiocentre study agrees with the likes of KPMG and suggests we are not. Homeworking is here to stay, and it is no different for commercial radio listeners – with 61% saying that they will work from home multiple times a week post-lockdown. Just 6% of commercial listeners say that they will not be working at home at all when restrictions are released.

By providing companionship and comfort over the last year when people needed it the most, radio has proven itself again to be a vital part of people’s daily routine. For advertisers looking to target the cash-rich working from home group, radio will continue to be a vital tool.

To find out more about radio and its commercial possibilities contact office@radioexperts.co.uk

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