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Three Generations Make Up Radio’s Heavy Listeners

Various life stages differentiate behavior of Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers

How can stations get into the minds of radio’s heaviest listeners? Scarborough Research has studied the views of heavy listeners to give stations insights into topics that interest them and their buying habits.

Scarborough SVP Digital Media Services Gary Meo told attendees of the Arbitron Client Conference in Annapolis, Md. on Wednesday, that 40% of radio’s heaviest listeners are adults, age 18–64. Broken down by age, 20% are Millennials (18–29), followed by Gen Xers (30–44). At 38%, Baby Boomers (45–64) make up the largest group of radio’s heaviest listeners.

They’re all at different stages of their lives, Meo points out. Millennials tend to be single and relatively new to the workforce while Gen Xers are getting married and starting families. Boomers are established in their careers and 80% own their homes.

“The better you know your audience, the better you can provide engaging content,” said Meo. For example, 61% of Millennials are reached by popular CHR formats while Spanish Adult Hits do well with Gen Xers. Boomers prefer Oldies and Talk formats, Scarborough data shows.

Studying online shopping behaviors shows Millennials are the heaviest Internet users, but Gen Xers and Boomers buy more on the web. Boomers spent an average of $840 online in the past 12 months compared to $600 for Millennials. Sixty-two percent of Millennials agree that the Internet is a main source of entertainment, compared to 50% of Gen Xers and 32% of Boomers.

Social networking is big with Millennials and stations trying to reach them need to use it, advised Meo. Eighty-four percent of Millennials use social networking, compared to 75% of Gen Xers and 56% of Boomers.

Cellphone use is big among the younger demos as well. More than 9 out of 10 Millennials rely on their smartphone to stay connected and get things done, said Meo.

In summary, generational differences among heavy radio listeners drive consumer behavior. All three generations look to radio to be entertained.