Refocusing a product
A BBC Radio 2 case study

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Page 2: Winning a broader audience

Bbc Radio 2 7 Image 1The American business writer Michael Porter argues that the key to ongoing business success is to win the lion’s share of the market.  If a business has the biggest market share, then its rivals must have smaller shares and will be disadvantaged in a number of ways eg their costs per unit of output will be higher.  In radio broadcasting, the most successful businesses will be the ones that are able to spend money on creating the programming that attract listeners.  Successful marketing therefore involves identifying the right sort of marketing mix that will make the firm the leader in its field.

Market segmentation is the process of dividing an overall market into several discrete segments made up of consumers who share common characteristics.  Products can then be produced and presented in an appropriate way to meet the requirements of a targeted segment.  One of the most common forms of market segmentation is based on demographics eg segmenting a market by age or by sex.

With radio, age is a key element of segmentation.  Market planners at Radio 2 decided to re-target their product mix at the 35+ radio listener.  They needed to persuade the 35+ audience that Radio 2 was the station for them.  In building a new audience, it helps not to alienate those who already tune in. The shift in emphasis needed to take place in a way that did not to upset the existing listener base (55+) which is immensely loyal to the station.  Indeed, Radio 2 continues to have the most loyal audience of any BBC national radio station, with listeners averaging more than 13 hours of listening time per week.

A quiet revolution

In moving Radio 2 forward, it was decided to go for a step-by-step process of change over time so as not to offend established listeners.  This approach contrasts strongly with that used by Radio 1, which in the mid-1980s went for radical change in order to gain a younger audience (the under 24s).  At the time, Radio 1 discarded many of its existing DJs.  As a result, a large proportion of its existing older audience turned to commercial radio.

Radio 2’s strategy has been to go for evolution over time.  As a result, Radio 2 has retained the support of its traditional audience.  It has also won praise from the press from other elements of the media.  This represents a huge PR triumph for those who have been managing the process of change.

BBC Radio 2 | Refocusing a product