The Power Of Audio: How Moms Use Audio for Self-Care and Inspiration
Last week in front of a wonderfully supportive crowd at M2M: The Marketing to Mom’s Conference, VP Megan Lazovick shared new data from The Research Moms of Edison Research, in addition to the following confession:
Last night before my presentation, while I probably should have been rehearsing, I was instead leading a brownie meeting of thirteen seven-year-old girls. We made friendship bracelets and decided our troop cause this year would be to help save the sea turtles. People told me I was crazy to become a girl scout leader, given I’m often traveling the country to conduct focus groups and in-person interviews as part of the qualitative research I do for my company and our clients. But the funny thing about being a mom, at least for me, is that it comes with this incredible drive do things, things you never thought you’d ever do, all for these little people in your lives. And while I’m happy to give my time, I do notice that there is definitely a lack of time to myself. And that’s probably true for many of you moms in the room. And it’s true of the women that I meet when I’m conducting those qualitative interviews I mentioned. So, let me introduce you to some of the moms I have met:
The need for something to “stimulate the mind and heart” and the emotional connection moms have with audio, that’s what I’d like to talk about today but let’s first touch on something else we heard in that video: “survival mode.” Those words hit home for me. Because when you are a busy mom, unfortunately, sometimes just making it through the day is enough. We sometimes have to celebrate the small victories, right?
A few years ago the moms at my company Edison Research formed a division called The Research Moms. In addition to the work we do for our clients interested in moms’ research, twice a year our mom squad comes together to conduct research about moms, just because we feel like it. The mental and physical load of moms is something the research moms of Edison research recently explored in our study called Moms on the Mother Load. In this survey of over 500 moms, we learned that 84% of moms say they handle the majority of the parenting responsibilities. Now, I just have to say, that it is extremely satisfying to settle an argument with your husband about the division of household labor, by fielding a national study of Americans.
But, this study told The Research Moms what we already suspected, that women are also primarily responsible for the majority of household chores. They have a lot on their minds: 89% of moms are primarily responsible for making doctors appointments for kids, 87% fill out school forms, and 83% are primarily responsible for arranging childcare. Bringing children to the doctor, packing for vacation, grocery shopping, laundry, assigning household chores, helping with homework… all of these are primarily moms’ responsibilities. So with all of these things on mom’s plate, when does mom find the time for self-reflection? For inspiration? For relaxation? And what exactly is this “me time” I keep hearing about? If a mom is going to get any of that – it must fall within the cracks of her already busy day and here’s where audio comes into the picture.
We have found that moms are spending more time with audio. Our Moms and Media report sources data from Edison Research’s Infinite Dial– a study that has been tracking a whole range of digital media consumption habits and behaviors for the past 22 years! Now I’ll just share the last few years of listening questions, but we’ll see that more moms are spending time with audio. Seventy-eight percent of moms are weekly AM/FM radio listeners. Online audio listening has been steadily rising with moms – from 74% in 2016 to 87% today. And the world of podcasting has been extremely exciting in recent years, growing rapidly from 37% of moms who listen in 2016 to well over a majority today. Audiobook listening has seen growth as well, as on-demand services have made them easier to access — 46% of moms listened to audiobooks in 2017 and 59% of moms listen today.
And while you might think of video when you think of YouTube – it’s actually really strong for music listening. Seventy-seven percent of moms use YouTube to listen to music. So as new technologies have made audio easier to access, moms are using audio more – especially on-demand audio.
Now, one of the most fascinating findings of 2019, in my opinion, came out of a study we did for the country radio industry called Parents, Teens and Country Music. Almost 60 percent of moms in our national survey said that they learned about at least one music streaming service from their teenager. But this isn’t just about awareness, is it? We found consistently in our studies that when it comes to technology or new things to do on the phone, the transfer of information was much greater from child-to-parent than the other way around. The teens are pulling parents to Spotify or Apple or Pandora. Here’s a peek at how teens are influencing their parents.
We also learned from that study that 76% of moms of teens agree that their teenagers assist them with new technology. And one of the most exciting developments in the audio space in the past few years has been consumer adoption of smart speakers – devices such as the Amazon Alexa or Google Home. In partnership with NPR, we have done a lot of research about these devices in our The Smart Audio Report series. In the three years, we have been conducting the research, we have seen it go from 6% of moms owning a smart speaker in 2016 to 34% moms in 2019 —which is pretty amazing growth. And one of the first things we noticed was that 45% of those that own a smart speaker have children in the household. These devices are especially appealing to families.
As part of our research with NPR we decided to go into the homes of smart speaker owners to see how the devices are changing behavior in the home. I’d like to introduce you a precious family. Lizzie let us into her home when her baby was just five weeks old.
If you’re someone who hasn’t experienced how truly helpful these devices can be then that video of Lizzie juggling a baby and a peanut butter sandwich might drive the point home. Whether it is audio from your google home, or an old-fashioned radio, audio has this one quality that any mom can appreciate: it is great for multitasking.
Here’s all the things that moms are doing while listening to audio according to the 2019 Research Moms Report:
• 90% are in the car
• 82% are doing housework or chores
• 73% are cooking or baking
• 69% of Moms listen to audio when they are spending time with children
The point is that, audio is the perfect companion for a busy mom. And why does mom like to listen to audio? Well, if you live your life in survival mode – you are even more desperate for something that “stimulates the mind and heart.”
Here are the things moms are looking for when they listen to audio: 46% of moms say they frequently listen to be entertained, 38% frequently listen for relaxation. Others say it gives them energy. It’s an Espace. Reminds them of the good times in life. It keeps them company. It allows them to express emotions or become inspired.
Now, I toned down the title of this presentation to “The emotional power of audio” but I originally titled this presentation: How Moms Use Audio for Self-Care and Inspiration, While Still Getting Sh*t Done. Because moms are true multitaskers. And audio is the perfect media for the multitasker. Can you make the mundane and sometimes maddening chore of matching and folding socks inspirational? The right audio program can. That is the power of audio. And who wouldn’t want to align their brand with such powerful content?
We asked moms, “When a product or service is advertised on an audio program you listen to, how, if at all, is your opinion of the of the company or brand affected?” Thirty percent of moms said somewhat more favorable and another 19% said much more favorable. This indicates there is some goodwill toward brands that appear on these programs.
We also asked, “When a radio personality or a podcast host recommends a product or service, how is your opinion of the company or brand affected?” And again about half the moms sad it made their opinion of the brand somewhat or much more favorable. We know that when you have loyal listeners, a show’s personality or host has a tremendous amount of influence. Let’s listen to our panel of moms once again on the topic of advertising:
So, what does this tell us? For me, it’s simple. When a brand is properly aligned with the programming and the execution is women-friendly, women will be engaged with the advertising. And, we know this from the dozens of brand lift studies that we conduct every year for various podcast producers. We’ve seen smashing successes when an advertiser takes the time to craft messaging that is relevant to the audience. But, we’ve also seen utter failures when an advertiser just repurposes advertising from another medium and doesn’t take the care to make it podcast-friendly. So, not every advertiser belongs on every podcast, or playlist, or station. And the right buy can make all the difference.
And I know I’ve been hitting you with a lot of data points from a lot of different studies but I have one last point to help put this all into perspective. Our Share of Ear® report is a diary study that measures all the time that Americans are listening to audio in a day. On average, moms listen to four hours of audio a day. Now, that’s an average, so some are listening to a lot less than four hours and some are listening to a lot more than four hours. But ON AVERAGE, moms listen to 4 hours of audio. That’s a lot of opportunities to reach moms. And that’s an opportunity to sponsor programming that is meaningful to them, that inspires them, and that is a part of what keeps them sane.
We know EVERYONE wants mom’s attention: the dog, the kids, the partner, the PTA. That’s a lot of clutter that you have to cut through. I hear all this hype about self-care…Self-care does not happen before a mom is finished caring for everyone and everything else. Yes, I’ve heard the lectures about how moms should take time out for themselves and good for you if you can make it happen. But, the reality of everyday life is that you sometimes have to grab the self-care in the in-between moments. And audio is in the between – or the layer on top of the chores that makes the chores more bearable. So, align yourself with the part of mom’s day that makes things better. The part that makes the boring parts of motherhood less mundane.
I mentioned the premise of this presentation to my coworker who I have been working with for over a decade. She said, “You know what – I listen to audio whenever I clean the house. It actually makes me look forward to cleaning!” I said, “Actually, I really need to organize my closet and I can’t wait because I want to listen to the new Dolly Parton podcast.” We both laughed, thinking about how we would never have such a conversation before we became moms. And you know what? Life is different then it used to be, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And to be honest, I am really looking forward to saving the sea turtles with my Girl Scouts. I should see if there’s a podcast on the topic.
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