Do you know much about the demographics of your podcast listeners? And specifically, do you know what percentage of your listeners fall into the Gen Z bracket (aged 11-26 in 2023)?
Edison Research and SXM Media have published a report this week that suggests you might want to pay more attention to this younger demographic of listeners.
They surveyed more than 1,000 Gen Z podcast listeners in the US to find out more about their relationship with podcasts.
And what did they learn? Gen Z is growing (and growing up), they’re super engaged, and they’re very receptive to advertising. In other words, they’re the ideal demographic to focus your energy on if you want to boost your podcast monetisation strategy.
Let’s take a look at why, according to the report, Gen Z are your biggest opportunity right now as a podcaster and how to cater more to this demographic with your podcast.
Why You Should Care About Gen Z Listeners
Gen Z Podcast Listenership is Growing
We know that podcast listenership continues to grow in the US, so the fact that Gen Z listeners are growing doesn’t come as much of a surprise. But the level of growth amongst this age group is worth talking about.
Edison’s 2023 Infinite Dial report showed that 47% of US Gen Zers had listened to a podcast in the last month – a 57% growth on the numbers four years earlier.
And while millennials still make up the largest demographic group of podcast listeners in the US overall, another report by eMarketer suggests Gen Z now have the highest percentage of listener penetration for their age group, 66% vs 64% of millennials. To simplify, podcast listening is statistically more popular amongst Gen Z.
They’re More Engaged Than Any Other Demographic
Edison’s own Infinite Dial Report (2023) found that 31% of total podcast listeners in the US said they listen at least once a week. And according to this new report, when you laser in on Gen Z, that number jumps to a massive 75%.
The lower end of the age bracket (ages 13 to 17) is even more dedicated to their podcast listening habits. As much as 80% of this age group said they’d tuned into a podcast in the past week.
Gen Z listeners are also spending a lot of time with podcasts – and the amount of time spent is growing. Earlier in the year, Edison’s Spoken Word Audio Report found that Gen Z spent 22% of their listening time on spoken word, compared to just 9% of the same age group back in 2014. That’s a massive 214% growth in listening time.
The newly released report found that Gen Zers spend a mean time of 7.7 hours per week listening to podcast content. 22% of those surveyed said they spent more than 10 hours listening to podcasts every week. One reason for this is that they also love to deep dive into a podcast’s back catalogue – a massive 78% said they binge-listen to podcasts.
They’re Hyper-Focused Listeners
Gen Z are also super focused when tuning in. Unlike many Americans, who listen to podcasts while doing chores, working out or on their daily commute, 8 in 10 Gen Z listeners say they don’t do anything else when they’re listening to podcasts. This makes Gen Z podcast listeners the ideal demographic for brands to catch their attention.
However, the report didn’t disclose what other options respondents were given for this particular question. They might not be gardening or doing chores while they tune in, but did the survey include ‘using other apps on my phone’ as an option? ‘Doing nothing’ might look quite different to Gen Z than other generations, as app-scrolling throughout the day is second nature to this tech-savvy generation.
Gen Z Are Really Receptive to Podcast Advertising
A while ago, A study from Pew Research found that Gen Z Americans are more likely to take recommendations from podcasts than older generations.
The new Edison study confirms this idea. They found that as much as 43% of Gen Z listeners aged 16+ have bought something after hearing a podcast ad for it, and 44% of those under 16 have asked someone to buy a product for them after hearing it advertised in a podcast. That’s almost half of all US Gen Z listeners.
And even if they’re not purchasing, Gen Z are following up on the brands they hear about on podcasts. Six in 10 Gen Z listeners said they’d visited a company’s website after hearing about them on a podcast. This isn’t just clicking a link, but proactively searching for the brand online. From a marketing perspective, this is really solid engagement.
With all these new Gen Z data insights in mind, it’s clear that your podcast will be more attractive to advertisers if you can show it appeals to this demographic. Gen Z are a goldmine for brands. If you can show your podcast taps into this market, this could greatly impact your relationship with advertisers.
How to Make Your Podcast More Gen Z Friendly
So now you know how valuable Gen Z are to your podcast, what can you do to grow your audience within this demographic proactively? Here are a few ideas…
Promote Your Podcast on Socials
If the idea of promoting your podcast on TikTok makes you squirm, it’s time to get over it. If one thing is clear from the Edison study, these social platforms are absolutely key to reaching Gen Z.
Almost 9 in 10 respondents from the study said they’ve watched podcast content on social media, and a massive 73% of those said they went on to listen to more of that podcast’s content on other platforms.
Social platforms are also Gen Z’s number one source for discovering new podcasts.
Primarily, the platforms they find new podcasts on are YouTube (84%), TikTok (80%), Instagram (71%), Facebook and Twitter (both 55%). More than 8 in 10 said they engage with podcasts on social by following a host/show or sharing podcast content.
We always recommend taking a multichannel approach to marketing your podcast, and this data reaffirms it. Reaching Gen Z might mean stepping out of your comfort zone using channels you’ve previously shied away from. But it’ll be worth it if these numbers are anything to go by.
Think About Gen Z When Creating Your Content
Of course, you should never let a specific demographic dictate the content you create. But including them in your thought process? There’s no harm in that.
According to the Edison report, Gen Z wants to hear real-life stories (94%), back-and-forth conversations (92%) and interviews with guests (90%) on podcasts. With this in mind, switching up your podcast format could be a good idea – particularly if you tend to focus purely on recording solo shows.
Overall, Gen Z seems to engage well with shows where the host is a facilitator rather than the single focus of attention.
Two-thirds (66%) of Gen Z podcast listeners also said they listen to or watch podcasts to stay in tune with the latest topics, and 61% use podcasts to keep up with social issues. So your podcast might appeal more to Gen Z if you bring bigger-picture thinking into your content, regardless of your niche.
Opt For Host-Read Ads
If you’re exploring advertising and sponsorship opportunities with your podcast, the data suggests Gen Z engages most with ads where the host seems to trust or endorse the brand.
While the Edison study suggests Gen Z respond well to all types of podcast advertising, host-read ads were highlighted as the most effective. A huge 84% of Gen Z listeners said they found ads read by hosts to be most useful, followed by sponsorship messages (‘this program is brought to you by…’) at 80%.
Pre-recorded messages had slightly less (76%) impact on them, but that number is still high.
The biggest takeaway from this Edison/SXM Media report is that Gen Z is an essential demographic to podcasting – and this will only become more significant as they continue to grow up alongside the medium.
This is an excellent opportunity for podcasters to prove their value to advertisers as the perfect medium to reach this age group. So what tweaks or pivots might you make to your own content to help hook more of these younger listeners?