Kiss leapfrogs Capital to take top three spot – but can it stay there?

Kiss 100, the Bauer Radio-owned station, has risen to third place in terms of weekly reach in London, according to the latest Rajar figures. It is the first time the station has broken into London’s top three, and it has overtaken 95.8 Capital Radio, the one-time market leader, to get there.

The Rajar figures show that Kiss now has a weekly reach of 1,583,000, which is 15% of the London market, compared to Capital’s 14% share – 1,563,000 listeners.

While still an EMAP station, Kiss was relaunched by then-managing director Bill Griffin in September 2006. He says Kiss’s position is “testament to the ongoing reinvention of the brand” and adds: “The new management is committed to investing in the brand from a marketing point of view.”

Griffin resigned from the station in December 2007 and was replaced by Steve Parkinson. Parkinson agrees that the 2006 relaunch was a key factor in its recent progress.

He points out that the greater focus on the Kisslife website has allowed a new audience to discover the station. “Kiss has been a radio secret for the past couple of years,” he says. “There has been no true marketing investment for two or three years. Instead a ground-up, or street-up, marketing strategy was used to allow the brand to be discovered by early adopters.”

Parkinson explains that listeners were invited to create their own ads for the station that appeared on the website, and that the user-generated contact strategy boosted Kiss’s reputation.

Also important was Kiss’s improved product mix, including the introduction of Ricky and Melvin as presenters of the breakfast show. In what Parkinson admits is something of a reverse move, Kiss will promote the breakfast show much more visibly from May and June, with above-the-line campaigns.

According to an industry source, Kiss’s success lies in its focus. “When listeners tune into Kiss they know what they are going to get,” he says. “The days of Capital’s expected dominance are gone.”

However, the source adds: “Kiss will stay in the premiere league, but it will be a fight to stay up there, especially with the investment that will now be poured into Capital.”

Howard Bareham, investment director for radio at Mindshare, says that Kiss deserves its success, but agrees that Capital will fight back and could claim back third place.

“Kiss has been knocking on Capital’s door,” he adds. “It has grown dramatically, increasing quarter on quarter. Kiss is the success story and Capital is on the wane. But Capital is coming under new ownership with Global, who will see the station as a priority.”

Ross Nester, broadcast director at Mediaedge.cia, also believes the positions could switch when the next Rajar figures are released and says that Capital has been unfortunate as listeners have been trying different stations.

“Capital hasn’t skipped, but Kiss has gained more,” he adds. “Capital still has a higher share, but Kiss has higher reach. Kiss needs to try and engage people and build loyalty so it’s not just attracting casual listeners. When it comes to Rajar figures, it is the small swings that make a difference, especially in London, and there isn’t a lot between the two stations.”

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