Gen Z podcast engagement is “off the charts”, SXM Media report shows

78% of Gen Z podcast listeners binge-listen to their favourite shows

Brands and advertisers can reach a super-engaged audience by targeting Gen Z podcast listeners, according to a report from SXM Media. 

The report, created in partnership with Edison Research, is titled Growing Up with Podcasts and looks at the consumer behaviours of Gen Z podcast listeners. The data is based on over 1,000 online interviews conducted in April 2023 with US monthly podcast listeners aged 13 to 24. 

Gen Z podcast listeners are a “massive opportunity” for brands and advertisers, according to the report, as they are consuming podcasts in larger numbers with nearly half (47%) having listened to a podcast within the last month. That’s more than how many US podcast listeners aged 12 and above listen to podcasts monthly on a wider scale (42%), according to the latest Edison Infinite Dial report. 

Not only is the reach high with Gen Z podcast listeners, they’re also likely to take action after listening to an ad, with 43% of listeners aged 16 and up purchasing a product afterwards and 44% of listeners between 13 and 17 asking someone to buy a product for them. While host-read ads are most popular with Gen Z listeners (with 84% saying they find them useful), brands can still reach them via sponsorship messages or pre-recorded advertisements as at least 76% of respondents finding these formats useful as well. 

“Gen Z actually finds utility in podcast ads and will actively seek out more information or even buy the brands they hear,” the report said. “They are key drivers of the creator economy, and they’ll actively support the brands that back their favourite creators and shows.”

Edison previously released a report with NPR on the podcast listening and consumption habits of listeners aged 55+ titled Hit Play, Boomer!, which indicated that this demographic is another underrated opportunity for brands and advertisers. Although the number of listeners is relatively low compared to other age groups, with only 4% of the Boomers’ share of listening time being spent on podcasts, this age group has a history of showing higher numbers for direct response advertising and for direct appeals for funding. 

Younger Gen Z listeners aged between 13 to 17 are even more engaged and likely to continue to stay devoted to podcasts, as six out of 10 respondents said they first started listening to podcasts as teenagers. Compared to Gen Z listeners overall, 80% of respondents aged 13 to 17 listened to a podcast in the last week, with an average listening time of 10.6 hours. 88% of listeners in this bracket also report that they binge-listen to podcasts. 

Social media is also an important way to reach Gen Z listeners, as four in 10 feel like it’s important to be kept up to date on these platforms. The most popular social media platforms used to engage with podcasts are video-based, with YouTube and TikTok leading with over 80%. Boomers, in comparison, are more likely to be reached via other social media platforms such as Facebook which is used by three-quarters of the listeners. 

Despite ongoing concerns over how social media audiences can be converted to podcast listeners, the report shows that Gen Z consumers would actually convert after watching a brief clip online; 74% responded that it would lead them to listen or watch the podcast in full afterwards. During The Podcast Show preview night in London last week, the show’s advisory panel highlighted that adding video is an important extension of the existing podcast format and can benefit podcasters in reaching a broader audience. 

“You’re only setting yourself up for failure if you don’t have video, especially if you have a conversational podcast,” said UTA partner and head of audio Oren Rosenbaum during the advisory panel session. “All it is is broadening the form that it is currently already in.”

SXM Media has released a number of podcast reports focusing on a range of audience demographics with Edison Research, including Black, Latino and female podcast listeners. These reports help creators, brands, and advertisers understand the behaviours of the listeners they’re targeting in order to run more effective campaigns. 

The Gen Z report also showed that younger listeners tend to be more diverse, with 46% identifying as female, one in five identifying as Hispanic/Latino, 15% identifying as Black, and 4% identifying as Asian. A common factor between all these reports is that listeners are more receptive to ads and more likely to engage with them if they identify with the creator. 

Over 80% of Black podcast listeners say they would be likely to consider a brand if the ad is promoted by a Black host, 74% of Latino podcast listeners have recommended a product to a friend or family member that has been promoted in an ad by a Latino podcast host, and 41% of female listeners are more likely to consider a brand that has been recommended by a female podcast host.