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Gen Z loves podcasts—and considers them far less toxic than social media

The news: SXM Media and Edison Research released their Gen Z Podcast Listener Report last week, which investigates the podcast consumption and related purchasing habits of US individuals ages 13 to 24. The upshot: This group likes to listen to podcasts.

Gathered from 1,000+ interviews, the demographically adjusted data provides insights for marketers targeting this diverse audience.

By the numbers:

  • Gen Z's monthly podcast listening has risen by 57% over the past five years, with 47% of Gen Zers (approximately 24 million listeners) engaging with podcasts in the past month.
  • 66% of Gen Z listeners use podcasts to stay updated on the latest topics, while 61% tune in to keep abreast of social issues.
  • Despite the trend of multitasking while consuming content, a surprising 82% of Gen Z listeners have reported listening to podcasts without doing anything else.
  • 43% of Gen Z listeners ages 16 and above have purchased a product after hearing a podcast ad; one in three have asked someone to buy a product for them after hearing it advertised in a podcast.

Compare and contrast: Podcasts factor into Gen Z’s emotional wellbeing. Over 80% of listeners use podcasts as a means of relaxation, around two-thirds listen for escapism, and more than half listen to gain a better understanding of their own feelings.

  • Podcasts offer a marked contrast with social media: Nearly a third of Gen Z listeners believe that social media has hurt their emotional well-being, per an April McKinsey Health Institute report. That negative effect is especially true for Gen Zers who dedicate more than two hours daily to social media.

Our take: The report not only paints a detailed picture of Gen Z's evolving podcast listening habits but also points out that it’s a diverse cohort.

  • Monthly Gen Z podcast listeners are now 46% female, up from 42% in 2018, and more diverse than all US listeners, with 20% being Hispanic/Latino, 15% Black/African American, and 4% Asian. That makes podcasts a shrewd place for advertisers interested in these cohorts to invest ad dollars.