Wanna vibe with Gen Z? Audio is the way to go!

by Deepika P Das, Sr. Manager of Research & Insights, Audacy

If there’s one medium that Gen Z stan, it’s Audio. 

It’s the generation that has grown up with tech. Online is where they thrive, but does that necessarily define them? Gen Z is stereotyped that they live on social media and are even anti-social. But all this younger lot seeks is a meaningful connection and a sense of belonging. Audio fulfills that need.

Radio: The starting point

98% of Gen Z listen to Audio daily.1 And ‘radio first’ is how they operate. More than a third say that they were first a radio listener and then started streaming radio stations online. Me-time, content curation, and host connection are some of the biggest reasons why Gen Z has a soft spot for Radio. These young listeners choose radio over digital pure plays like Spotify, Pandora etc. because they feel radio helps them destress and enjoy me-time (72%), that they’re hanging out with their favorite radio hosts while listening to them (60%) and they like the content curation more on their favorite radio stations than on digital-only Audio platforms (56%).2 

And this is particularly important because at a time when our youth is facing a mental health crisis, Audio and especially AM/FM Radio is the platform where Gen Z can come for positivity and community. Many are distancing themselves from social media. 37% say that they have taken a break from social media or are thinking about it, and 51% often turn to Audio to change or improve their mood.3

Audio blends into Gen Z lives and interests.

Playing sports, shopping, meditating, working or studying, having meals and doing arts/ crafts are some of the top rituals that these young listeners partake in while listening to their favorite audio content. 

And they love their music! Compared to the typical US adult, Gen Z listeners are more likely to listen to Rhythmic Contemporary Hit Radio (+92%), Pop Contemporary Hit Radio (+84%) and Urban Contemporary (+41%). Even while exploring streaming radio, Gen Z are more likely to listen to music artist interviews (+33%) or lesser heard music (+32%).4 They still continue to be sports and new junkies, listening especially to sports team highlights, sports news and analysis as well as local news, weather and traffic.

Podcasts hit different! 

Compared to a typical podcast listener, Gen Z listeners are 49% more likely to strongly agree that they find themselves more captivated by podcasts than other media. They listen multiple times a week if not daily, and love longer episodes. Gen Z are twice more likely to say that if they like a podcast enough, they don’t care about the episode length!5 

Although one thing publishers can’t go wrong with is the quality of listening. When choosing a new podcast, ratings and reviews definitely matter to Gen Z listeners, but they also pay close attention to the production quality of a show.  

And no, Gen Z aren’t ad-averse

Not just their favorite audio content, Gen Z are open to listening to ads as well. And within the audio universe, most ad-supported listening happens on radio (AM/FM or streaming) and podcasts followed by others, including Spotify and Pandora.6

This is a generation that is just getting started. They are looking for jobs, starting a business, buying a house, getting married… Brands are top of mind for them during these major transitions.  Especially the experience ones, such as concerts, sports events, restaurants, fitness centers – Get Ready! 

Because Gen Z is planning to be out and about in the coming days. 

And watch out! Gen Z feels misunderstood and under-represented. With next year’s presidential election looming large, political ads will  have a tremendous opportunity to engage Gen Z audiences. 6-in-10 agree that  they learn about political candidates through ads. And audio resonates with them more. Gen Z are more likely to say they’d rather hear a political ad on the radio than see it on TV (+33%).7

Gen Z makes up  a formidable share of America’s population (21%).8  Being in lock step with this young set of consumers, with unique tailored experiences and strong values, is critical for brands. Audio can help in communicating your message authentically and at scale.  Next time you want to speak with America’s youth, make sure to ace your Audio strategy.

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  1.  Edison Research, Share of Ear, Share of Ear 2023 Q2, Platform Cume , Ages 13-24
  2. Audacy Cross-Platform Audio Study, Suzy Insights, n=1,241 U.S. P18+
  3. Audacy America’s Youth Mental Health & Media Choices Study, conducted in May 2023 on Ask Suzy; n=1330; Adults 18-35, Female 50% – Male 50%
  4. Nielsen Scarborough Research, Market/Release: Scarborough National Database 2022 Release 1 Total (Dec 2020 – Apr 2022)
  5. MRI-Simmons, 2023 April Podcast Study (F22 USA)
  6. Edison Research, Share of Ear, Share of Ear 2023 Q2, Share of type of listening, Ad-supported platforms, AM/FM, Streaming music, SiriusXM, Podcasts, Ages 13-24
  7. MRI-Simmons, 2023 Q2 Trending Topics Study (W23 USA)
  8. Statista, 2023

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