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HD Radio preferred over iPods

That’s one finding in a nutshell from the huge new national study Mercury just completed on the topic of HD Radio.

1,000 respondents, 12-54, all across America – including unlisted and cell-phone only respondents.

Overall, 53% preferred a description of “HD Radio” (which did not use that label) over an iPod. 37% preferred the iPod over the “HD Radio,” and 10% didn’t know.

Demographicallly speaking, 51% of 18-34’s preferred the “HD Radio” over the iPod (43%), while 59% of 25-54’s chose the “HD Radio” over the iPod (28%).

Among fans of various formats, the picture looks like this (click to enlarge):

As you can see, for News/Talk, it’s advantage – HD. For CHR, Urban, and Active Rock (i.e., where the youngest folks are), it’s advantage – iPod.

So what does all this mean? And what doesn’t it mean?

The results of this finding should not be exaggerated.

First, this was a trade-off specific to these two items. Ideally, such a trade-off should include items which are functionally equivalent – that is, they should deliver the same benefit. In this case, I don’t think they do. A better question would be to trade-off the preference for “HD Radio” vs. the radios we all have now. Or iPods vs. another brand of mp3 player. It could be argued this tradeoff is like asking folks which they’d rather have, an iron or an HD Radio?

Second, these two products do not comprise the entire audio entertainment menu available to consumers. They can also choose regular radio, Satellite, cell phone, Internet streaming, podcasting, etc. Offering only a portion of that menu provides only a portion of the truth. Indeed, they can even choose to turn all the racket off, if that’s what they want.

What this finding does suggest is this: In an artificial world where consumers choose only between these two options, the one that’s easy and most familiar (i.e., radio – in a new flavor) beats the one that’s more complicated (hey, it requires a computer to drive it after all, and it makes its users into music directors shuffling playlists) and less familiar.

Ease of use.

Who’d a thunk it?

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