Life After Lockdown: What’s In Store For Local Radio?

Life in lockdown brings about changes in behaviour as both brands and consumer scramble to catch up to an ever changing ‘normal’.  For us to predict what’s in store for local radio after lockdown we need to look at potential changes to both consumer and brand behaviour.

As optimism sneaks away into the night following each passing day with news of more lives taken, growing pockets of community spirit rally together to grab hold and bring back a bit of hope. The intrinsic need to connect with our wider community is met through very creative solutions. From local neighbourhood bingo to karaoke sing-a-longs, a community spirit not seen since my childhood in the 80’s, is back – albeit socially distant. These days local is VERY loud. 


As the economic impact of the virus weighs heavily on our shoulders there is growing concern about what measures will need to be taken for recovery. For consumers, sentiment, Income security, spending intent, changing priorities and habits will hold court when it comes to deciding where to spend money in the future.

Irish consumer sentiment showed the sharpest monthly decline in 24 years according to The KBC Bank Consumer Sentiment Index April 2020.  This is undoubtedly linked to the changing circumstances of many Irish household incomes and their future spending intent.

It’s not all bad news however. Consumers have had an opportunity to reassess their priorities while spending more time at home with loved ones.  Home working, online fitness, self care (vitamins and meditation), virtual meet ups, distance learning, DIY, baking and home schooling are just some of the growing trends as people adapt to isolation.

Only time will tell if consumer habits during this unprecedented time have become so ingrained that they will eventually change the fabric of Irish business.  Office working may become a novelty as the pandemic comes to an end but will consumers yearn for more time at home, no commuting, and their “covid” routine?   Knowing now that it is not necessary to be physically present in the office to get things done will likely lead to a shift in flexible work arrangements in future

Health and wellness have been growing at an abnormally fast rate since the outset of the outbreak.  Body weight home work-outs and online vitamin supplements may be good habits that we will become reluctant to break.  Taking time out to achieve personal improvement goals in health and fitness or learning new skills in baking could become post pandemic durable trends.

One of the lasting impacts may also be the increase in e-commerce usage.  The adoption of online shopping by older consumers may have opened up a whole new market for those offering e-commerce solutions.  Starting with the necessities like FMCG during the restrictions, older consumers may become more confident and reassured as a result of their online shopping experience and venture further afield into other categories like home appliance or clothing.


According to Behaviour & Attitudes, Sign of the Times 2020, the coming weeks and months are a crucial time for brands. Our “normal” has changed dramatically and with that comes a change in how we engage with brands.  It is essential that brands do not disappear in our time of need if they are to maintain a positive brand reputation.  Those who continue to communicate and engage with consumers will “emerge stronger for it” when restrictions are lifted.

Consumers will remain cautious for a period of time so those brands who have demonstrated commitment to their community will be more likely to reap the rewards.  Trust will be a key factor in decision making and consumers will stand by brands they have relied upon to get them through this difficult time.

“We’re not open to new things—we go from a gain mentality to a maintain mentality, which is important for a lot of the brands to realize,”

As businesses adjust to virtual meetings consumers are also adjusting to bringing their behaviour online. New demographics, like older consumers, have been forced by this virus into the world of online shopping for essential items and as a result may continue this trend as they grow in confidence.  This creates huge opportunities for brands with ecommerce solutions. As consumers remain cautious while restrictions are lifted, an online solution will speed up the process of recovering sales.


The potential growth of e-commerce could mean good news for local radio. Through our own research we’ve shown how ecommerce and radio advertising work in harmony to increase sales and revenue.  Recent research from an independent agency, commissioned by IRS+ clearly demonstrates the impact of local radio advertising on:

  • Increasing footfall into stores
  • Increasing online sales

These are metrics that are revenue impacting and can be unquestionably attributed to local radio advertising.  This research was undertaken pre Covid19 crisis but we believe that these results would be even better if the research was conducted now.  With many brands cutting their spend, it has given those continuing to advertise a more captive audience.

In response to shifting flexible working arrangements, local radio will become the soundtrack of the “working from home” consumer.  When and how we consume audio will also change with radio becoming more prevalent during the day for those working at home and not just at commuting times, forcing producers to reassess how they evaluate location listening.  Success in radio is rooted in habitual listening and with consumers spending more time at home now and in the future, the future looks bright for local radio.


In response to what’s happening in the marketplace, brand owners have sought to diversify their media mix. We recently introduced a new product ranged called IGNITE and as a result, we have been able to offer “off the shelf” ready to activate radio products. These not only make things easier for agencies but also inspire brands to build creative, authentic connections that resonate with communities around the country.

One of these products, “Spotlight” has proved especially popular. Why? Probably because it goes far beyond a so-called standard radio campaign blending radio with social media to inform, educate and serve the needs of listeners and followers, giving brands exactly what they need to remain relevant in the minds of consumers throughout this pandemic.

Spotlight gives brands an authentic, trusted platform to add value, context and depth to their messaging.  It operates most effectively across for key platforms: Education, Community, CSR & Expertise.  These platforms make spotlight highly relevant in today’s environment for brands and public bodies.

  • Education is used when a brand’s objective is to change consumer behaviour or understanding.
  • Community provides valuable information and service to the local community.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility informs key audiences on environmental, social and sustainable issues
  • Expertise is used to share expert knowledge on a topic or service with our local listeners.

For more information about our IGNITE range of radio products click here

To contact a member of our team click here

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