Star Radio getting louder

Wider reach: Faisal says radio should always be part of advertisers’ thought consideration in building brand awareness and maintaining top of mind recall.

It’s banking on strong urban and semi-urban listenership to expand reach

THE Star Media Radio Group (SMRG), which is fast gaining foothold among listeners in the country, is banking on its strong listenership in the urban and semi urban areas to garner higher market presence amid competition in the radio business.

The company has managed to draw listeners to all its four radio stations and is confident of attracting more over time. Its general manager for marketing Faisal Khalil says besides the digital platform, SMRG is now consolidating its position to gain a bigger market share and presence in the radio business.

“The way we intend to enlarge our market share is by focusing more on the urban and semi urban areas in the country. We do not view our non-presence nationwide, with the exception of Suria FM, as a disadvantage as we are gaining popularity among the urbanites in the peninsula. We will work harder on this front to expand our reach and listenership.

“Malaysia has gone through rapid urbanisation over the years with close to 70% to 80% of the country already urbanised. The infrastructure, lifestyle, demographic of the population and media consumption pattern, among others, have changed drastically. This augurs well for a radio company like SMRG which is fast gaining listenership among the urbanites,’’ he tells StarBizWeek in an interview.

Faisal says currently, more than 90% of the radio company’s listeners are from urban market centres and it is looking to expand this reach further.

He adds that in view of advertisers taking a prudent stance amid tougher economic conditions, SMRG, is positioning itself to attract advertisers to its radio stations with its high composition of urban listeners as it strives to be the top radio group in terms of quality listeners with high disposable income and purchasing power.

He adds: “In an economic downturn, marketers are generally more cautious of their ad spend. In that respect, radio, as the media with the highest reach of more than 90% of the Malaysian population, should always be part of advertisers’ thought consideration in building brand awareness and maintaining top of mind recall. In order to stretch your ringgit even further, that’s where SMRG radio stations come in – delivering high quality listeners while reducing wastage.

“Our aim is to provide marketers a consumer market that optimises their advertising investment. By delivering these quality listeners, who will still spend irrespective of the economic scenario, advertisers will be more at ease knowing that their advertising and promotional budget will be well spent.”

The radio group currently owns four stations - 988 FM (for the Chinese market segment) , Suria FM ( Malay), Red FM and Capital FM ( English).

In a recent survey conducted by Gfk, a global market research firm, SMRG retained its grasp among the urbanites with more than four million listeners tuning in weekly to its four radio stations. The survey was for the August- September period this year. The earlier survey was conducted from March to April.

988 FM was the dominant growth leader in the Chinese market segment with its listenership base expanding by about 30% from 1.3 million ( from March and April this year ) to 1.7 million in August and September. It was the number one Chinese station in the Northern region (Perak, Kedah, Penang and Perlis) as well as the top pre-lunch (12.00pm-12.30pm) and dinner show (7.30pm-8.00pm) across all Chinese stations from Mondays to Fridays.

The survey also showed that 988 was the most engaging Chinese station with highest time spent listening (TSL) of seven hours and 34 minutes and its listenership had grown by 50% ( in August and September from March and April).

With 2.3 million listeners, continued to reign with its three unshakable prime time slots – Ceria Pagi with Adibah Noor & Baki Zainal, Ceria Petang with Linda Onn and Suria Cinta with DJ Lin – engaging more than one million listeners within its respective slots.

On the English language station front, Red FM, which commands a weekly listenership of 325,000, expanded its TSL by close to half, finding from the survey showed. Capital FM’s strong brand and programming direction not only fulfilled the palate of existing listeners, but also increased its reach to new audiences by expanding its weekly listenership base by 70%.

On the radio advertising spend (adex), Faisal notes: “Radio adex growth in the last five years (from 2010-2014) has been steady at between 4%-5%. However, the outlook for 2015 seems stagnant as year-on-year comparison between year-to-date versus the corresponding period last year is only at 0.1%. Labelled as the less sexy media platform, radio has stood by the test of time and remains the most cost efficient media with the highest reach in the country,” he stresses.

Nielsen in its latest radio audience measurement survey, Wave #2, stated that radio remained popular among Malaysians with more listeners spending longer time tuning to their favourite stations.

Malaysian radio listenership remains high, with 93.7% listeners aged 10 years and above in Peninsular Malaysia tuned-in to their favourite radio station although this figure was slightly down by 1.3% compared with the previous Wave #1 survey, it added.

The period of the survey for Wave #2 was between Aug 17 and Sept 13 while Wave #1 was from March 30 to April 26 this year.

Media Industry Group for Nielsen Malaysia executive director Benjamin Ting commenting on the findings says Malaysians are generally still captivated by radio due to its personalised format and content.

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