Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is the first generation to be born entirely within the digital age. Unlike Boomers who are influenced by a good deal and customer service, and Millennials who are influenced by authentic experiences, Gen Z are truth seekers and have no trouble searching for information and understanding data. So they are quick to spot misdirection and aren’t easily influenced by traditional deals such as loyalty programs or subscription services. They are digitally self-reliant, socially conscious, expect authentic, relatable experiences, and genuinely want to have a hand in creating the products, services, and a future they desire. According to a study from the National Retail Federation, “44% of Gen Z said that, if given the opportunity, they would like to submit ideas for product design” and when Gen Zers share their opinions, they provide 2x more positive feedback than complaints.

Gen Z is also unique in that they currently control their own spending and influence the spending of their entire family, given that the youngest of the generation are now in their tweens. And with spending power estimated at over $300 billion, it’s a crucial time for brands to carefully consider their creative marketing strategies when speaking to this complex, yet highly influential audience.

Gen Z and Audio:

  • According to SXM Media and Edison Research, Gen Z loves podcasts
    • Gen Z’s monthly podcast listening has risen by 57% over the past five years, and despite Gen Z’s tendency to multitask, a whopping 82% surveyed said that they listen to podcasts without doing anything else.
    • Over 80% of listeners use podcasts as a form of relaxation and around two-thirds listen for escapism
    • For a generation who is used to multitasking and consuming content in bite-sized chunks, this uninterrupted dedication to the medium provides brands the ideal opportunity to interact with this audience when they’re the most “tuned-in”.
  • Gen Z follows their favorite creators to their podcasts
  • 47% of Gen Zer’s said that they have joined digital communities such as Discord servers or subreddits for their favorite creators
  • Audio drives more attention than Social and Online Video
    • When speaking to dialed in generations with shorter attention spans, overall attention drivers are key. For every 1,000 impressions, Audio delivers more attentive seconds according to Dentsu's Attention Study. Audio delivers 10K+ attentive seconds while Social delivers 3K and Online Video delivers 6k.

Gen Z Engagement Tip #1

  • Create Ads as Content
    • Gen Z is content hungry, and they have access to plenty of it. From YouTube, Snapchat, and Tik Tok, to Instagram and more, Gen Z has practically unlimited access to content around any topic—and the brands advertising there. Because Gen Z understands that much of the free content they consume is made possible by advertisers, it’s much harder to make a lasting impression. 46% cited having a strong connection to a brand while 66% buy from their favorite brands for an extended period of time. So it’s more important than ever to make meaningful connections during early engagement. Brands have to reconsider their positioning and align their advertising with the snackable content that Gen Z craves. It’s important to this generation that brands create like creators.
    • Creator content is memorable, relatable, and in some cases, viral. Crafting creative that focuses on relatability and storytelling is key to standing out to this audience. Instead of focusing on key reasons to buy your product, center your brand creative around a memorable story, brand values, or social trend and allow creators to weave your brands’ story naturally into their show content.

Gen Z Engagement Tip #2

  • Establish Accountability and Credibility
    • When interacting with Gen Z, it’s important to remember that this generation grew up with smart devices and unlimited information at their fingertips. They’re comfortable doing their own research and are influenced more by their friends, online reviews, and social media counterparts than they are by traditional marketing strategies. Establishing brand accountability and credibility up front is key to capturing and retaining their attention. Gen Z has also grown up in a time of worldwide pandemics, global warming, and political unrest. So, they’re naturally drawn  to  support brands that are socially conscious and want to improve society. One survey found that 70% of Gen Z respondents try to purchase from companies they consider ethical. 80% say they remember at least one scandal or controversy involving a company.
    • It’s not enough to only work with diverse creators and influencers. Accountability and credibility need to be built into the fabric of your brand. Establishing strong brand stories highlighting social contributions and demonstrations of delivering on company values are key to engaging Gen Z. Podcast advertising is a valuable opportunity to create content that listeners can learn from and use to fuel meaningful actions in real life. For example, you can encourage participation in social efforts that are important to your brand and share across hashtags or podcast fan groups. Create opportunities for host involvement in these events. Share stories from listeners that tie back to your brand values.

Gen Z Engagement Tip #3

  • Avoid Going Straight for the Sell
    • Life is overwhelming and Gen Z craves meaningful messaging that stands out from all the noise. Take the time to establish yourself as fun, adventurous, or relatable before immediately jumping into your pitch.
    • Create fun,quick tutorials! Invite listeners to get involved and  share their experiences directly with your brand or with their favorite creators who can share their favorites in future spots.
    • Focus on education! As constant truth-seekers, Gen Z is always looking to take a peek behind the curtain. What inside scoop can you give them?
    • Build a community! Invite listeners to join brand specific Discord servers or digital groups. Host industry-wide contests that encourage listeners to craft their own audio ad or branded podcast episode. As the new generation of creators, center their voices and align their stories with your brand growth.

Gen Z Engagement Tip #4

  • Invite Gen Z to be a Part of the Story
    • In addition to being the most tech-savvy, socially conscious generation, Gen Z is also the loneliest. Your brand tone, voice, and personality must exude authenticity and credibility. However, you also have to balance fun, humor, and human connection. Brands need to reconsider their current marketing strategies in favor of more relational strategies rather than simply presenting and selling a product and risking coming across as inauthentic.
    • Invitations to participate in cross-platform challenges gives listeners an opportunity to become part of the brand story. Create transparency between the brand and Gen Z by having them become a part of your marketing efforts! Invite them for interviews, share both good and bad tweets and reviews about your product, and give uncanned responses to their feedback. Crafting this level of transparency and weaving their stories into how you shape your brand will create real bonds from open, honest, two-way communication. Within the podcasting space, this could include listener and host challenges that can be shared across various brand- and host-specific hashtags. Have hosts share their favorite clips and quips in future ad reads to inspire listeners  to view your brand in a new light.

Gen Z can be a challenging, but rewarding, audience to reach. With their discerning eye and desire for authenticity, brands that are willing to go the extra mile to create meaningful experiences with this generation can expect to see loyal and long-lasting relationships with creators and audiences alike. And with the ever-evolving nature of the audio and video industry bringing bold, new voices and content to a growing range of listeners, brands within the space have an excellent opportunity to test new, out of the box creative that will connect with and engage this growing audience.