Things we’ve learned about Gen Z listening habits

According to reports in 2020, Gen Z wasn’t listening to podcasts as frequently as millennials. Fast forward to 2021, and a survey from YPulse found that Gen Z is now just as likely to listen to your podcast as millennials. As Gen Z makes up a large market segment, understanding their listening habits is essential for podcasting success. In this article, we’re sharing some of the things we’ve learned about Gen Z listening habits in 2021 so far. 

 Gen Z digital habits in 2021: 

  • More than 74% of Gen Z say they spend their free time online 
  • 66% of Gen Z reports using more than one internet-connected device at a time
  • In the UK, Gen Z spends an average of 10.6 hours online each day
  • 60% of Gen Z visit YouTube daily 
  • On average, Gen Z will pay attention to content for eight seconds – four less than millennials

(Source: Hubspot – Gen Z Stats )

We know that Gen Z are big fans of social media, particularly TikTok and Instagram. But where do we find them when it comes to streaming platforms? 

Gen Z Music Streamers Preferred Platform:

  1. Spotify – 68.4%
  2. Apple Music – 32.9%
  3. YouTube Music – 30.4%
  4. SoundCloud – 26.6%
  5. Amazon Music – 7.6%
  6. Google Play Music – 7.6%
  7. Don’t Stream – 3.6%
  8. Other – 1.3%

(Source: Digital Music News)

As we delve a little deeper into the listening habits of Gen Z, the third volume of Culture Next, the Annual Culture and Trends Report, is our first port of call. As 71% of Spotify Free listeners are under the age of 35, it’s safe to say the streaming giants know a thing or two about Gen Z. 

The full report is assembled through countless interviews with creators, advertising executives and listeners in 18 countries, along with quantitative, qualitative, and first-party data analysis. To help you understand Gen Z listeners better, we’ve pulled together some of the key takeaways from the report, which surveyed 9,000 Gen Z and millennial respondents. 

Escapism and healing 

Gen Z listener Joe told us he likes to listen to podcasts for “distraction” and he’s not the only one. With unhealthy tech habits and excessive screen time, the younger generation’s norm, the Gen Z audience turns to audio for an escape. With 67% of Gen Z respondents saying that they use audio to reduce their stress levels, audio is far more than entertainment for this audience. 

As they turn to technology for wellness, Gen Z listeners worldwide are using audio to help themselves self-regulate, meditate, manifest, and heal. From Q1 until the report’s publishing, podcasts in the Mental Health category saw a 179% increase of Gen Z listeners while the Self-Help category saw a 108% increase.  

A demand for diverse voices

In the year that Spotify calls a “cultural rebirth”, Gen Z audiences have indicated that they trust audio platforms to expose them to diverse voices. 52% of Gen Zers believe that audio amplifies more diverse perspectives, with 62% agreeing that streaming platforms, including audio, have significantly impacted how they discover and connect with broader culture. 

48% of Gen Zs have sought content from more diverse creators in the past year, with 61% sharing that they have used music to learn about cultures and experiences that differ from their own. 

Gen Z listener Natalia echoed this point when she told us: “I listen to them [podcasts] to get different perspectives on things and listen/talk about ongoing trending topics. Some podcasts that I listen to give me a sense of relatability, whether it’s the things they talk about (like public enquiries or dilemmas that they send in) or because of the podcasters themselves – it’s like a sense of belonging outside of your friendship group.”

Trusted voices 

Thanks to diverse voices found on streaming platforms, younger generations trust the medium of audio more than others. According to the report, 40% of Gen Z listeners trust podcasts over traditional media sources, including newspapers, radio and national TV news, with 52% of Gen Zers using podcasts to learn about social issues. 

As podcasts are fast becoming a favoured news source, 17% of the Gen Z audience identify as “cord never” who have never used traditional cable TV. 

As audio creators can go off script and show their authentic selves, listeners are more likely to feel connected to hosts. 41% of global listeners say they trust ads more if they hear them during a podcast, with 81% reporting they’ve taken action after hearing a podcast ad. 

Story Telling 

While podcasting was once viewed as niche, voices across every cultural area from politics and news to humour and gaming, creatives are using the medium to forge deeper connections. 

When asked what he likes about podcasts, Joe told us that listeners often feel as if “you’re part of the conversation”, showcasing how connection is valued by Gen Z. 

61% of the Gen Z audience surveyed shared that they believe audio formats like podcasts are one of the greatest ways to tell stories. So, if you’ve got a story to tell, Gen Z is eager to hear it. 

Applying what we learned about Gen Z listening habits to your podcast 

Although many takeaways will be specific to your podcast, we wanted to round off this article with some standout learnings.  

We know that Gen Z listeners have a short attention span, so you need to hook them in with a strong title and an intro to match. Attention span should also be taken into consideration when it comes to promoting your podcast, those first eight seconds need to be gold. 

The platform you choose for your podcast is an essential consideration for your entire audience, not just Gen Z. For example, if you were to host your podcast on Apple Music, you’re excluding a whole audience who don’t use Apple products. Therefore, if you choose to host exclusively on one platform, it should be accessible to everyone. 

We also learned that trust and authenticity are important to Gen Z. So, providing factually correct information and being unapologetically yourself should be high on your list of priorities. As they say, if it means something to you, chances are, it will mean something to someone else. Happy podcasting! 

Download the full Spotify Culture Next report, which was compiled in April 2021 here.