Close on the heels of radio research conducted by IMRB, media planners have another radio research to pour into. And this one paints a different picture. Radio study conducted by NFO MBL recently, between Nov 26 and Dec 02, suggests that three operators - Radio City, Radio Mirchi and Win 94.6 are locked in a three-way battle for listener's ears. The study, commissioned by Win 94.6, used 'Dairy' methodology to collect data for a pre-defined TG - Sec AB. Radio Mirchi has questioned the adequacy of sample size.
Unlike the other studies conducted so far, this research does not show Radio Mirchi as the clear leader. It shows Radio City (approximately 23% market share) and Mirchi (approximately 22% market share) almost at par. Win 94.6 closely follows these with slightly less than 21% market share. While Go and Red are at par with approximately 10% market share each. At the tail end are AIR FM 1 and 2.
Fieldwork for this research undertaken by MBL NFO was conducted between November 26 and December 2, 2002. The study covers 512 respondents from Sec A and B. 40% of these respondents are car owners.
Media watchers and Radio station heads argue that 512 respondents is a small sample size, and the skew towards car owners is steep as less than 5% of the city population own cars. They also argue that 'day after recall' is a much better option than diary method. Says Prashant Panday, COO, Radio Mirchi, "The sample size is small and the number of car owners too high Besides, six days is too small a time for the diary method to show the real trends. Also, in diary method, people tend to fill the diary a day prior to the day data is to be collected. Hence, this study does not have much credence. Attempts to contact with the station heads of Red, Go and City came to naught.
The research agency NFO MBL and Win believes that research is credible and useful as it captures the latest trends using internationally accepted methodology.
Says NFO MBL representative; "We were looking to find various stations' market-share in SEC A & B. This, we believe, is a fairly homogenous market as far as radio listeners are concerned. Hence, 500 respondents is an adequate sample size. We purposely kept car owners as 40% of the total universe to understand car radio listeners better".
Gautam Radia, CEO Win, believes that diary system is a much better method for gauging radio listenership. Says he, "In no country in the world, day after recall is used to conduct radio lisenership/ marketshare research. Globally, around $ 20 billion are spent in diary research on a yearly basis."
But how does one account for such a major difference in the findings of Radio Radar 2002 and this study? As reported earlier, Radio Radar 2002, shows Mirchi way ahead of the pack with 62% listenership, City at second rung among private stations with 27% listenership, with Win placed at the bottom of the ladder.
Argues Radia, "Radio is only seven months old in the city. Fieldwork for IMRB study was done in September, while fieldwork for this one was conducted from 28th November to 2nd December. The study is indicative of changes in the last three months. Besides, we changed from a predominantly English station to a Hindi one only in the last week of August. IMRB study was conducted soon after that, and it takes some time for the impact of the change to build in."
Alongside, AC Nielsen and Radio stations are believed to be talking to conduct a 'day after recall' study. IMRB is also planning to infuse a signal into the station transmitter that would be able to read frequencies being listened to without any interference.
Media users - meanwhile amongst this deluge of radio research- are waiting for a common currency based on universally accepted research methodology.