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Why Modern Lifestyles Drive the Need for Audio

Audio Now is the RAB’s latest research project which takes a look at how the audio market is changing and offers some perspective on the role played by different audio services in people’s lives today.

Below, we look at how the pressures of modern lifestyles create need-states that play a valuable role for people. These audio advertising changes alter the way live radio is consumed and, in turn, how the audio medium can be used to meet peoples needs.

The qualitative stage of the study – conducted by The Sound Research – established that the role for audio is created by the pressures of modern life, which they clustered into three broad categories:

  1. Rewarding Yet Relentless
  2. Technology: A Benefit And A Burden
  3. More Connected, More Disconnected

In response to these pressures, people use audio – as one of a range of activities including sport, watching TV, etc. – to help them cope with life. But audio doesn’t just fulfill one need – The Sound Research identified six different need-states where audio plays a role:

  1. Help me escape
  2. Amplify the moment
  3. Lift my mood
  4. Broaden my horizons
  5. Provide social currency
  6. Keep me in the loop

The six different need-states make behavioral sense if we see them presented along two axes:

  • Social/Personal – our social needs concern how we relate to other people and/or the wider world, rather then being purely about our selves
  • Context/Content – sometimes we choose specific content, but at other times it’s all about where we are and what we’re doing 

The difference in mood and motivation between these need-states affects the way people choose which type of audio to consume at any point.

Broadly, listeners perceive that there are two types of audio source – live radio and on-demand. 

The different characteristics of live and on-demand audio mean that they are suited to different need-states.

The need-states where on-demand audio has the best fit are those where the listener wants to feel in control of what is being played; for example in the Amplify The Moment need-state, where people sometimes want to create just the right atmosphere in a shared space.

By contrast, live radio shows better fit when people are looking for a bit of external input, for example in the Lift My Mood need-state, when people are often happy to let the radio station do the choosing and mixing.

Live Radio Fulfills More Need-states

One mood-state is significantly more common than others – Lift My Mood.

This tends to be the mood we are in during routine chores and at work, where our tasks are set for us and we look for something to help us make time move along faster, lift our spirits and ward off boredom and loneliness.

The same analysis amongst the 15-24 segment showed that they have a slightly different mixture of need-states. Although they too major on Life My Mood, they are also equally inclined to be in two other need-states – Help Me Escape, and Amplify The Moment.

Why? Certainly younger people are more adept with technology on the whole, but this is less about devices and more about attitude. A generous interpretation would be that young people are being creative, exploring and following their dreams. A more pragmatic explanation would be that, although older people would like to spend more time matching music to moments, they simply don’t have time to indulge themselves in this way – and many young people do.

By the same logic, it seems likely that young people’s tendency to be in these two need states – Help Me Escape and Amplify The Moment – will diminish as they get older and the world of work and day-to-day family life.

Find out more, click here to see the full report and download RAB's Audio Now presentation.

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