4 reasons why audio is the glue that connects brands to Gen Z consumers

Guest Column: Arjun Kolady, Head of Sales, Spotify India, explains how brands can become a part of the conversation that takes place between creators and fans on the audio medium

e4m by Arjun Kolady
Published: Jul 20, 2022 8:37 AM  | 4 min read
Arjun Kolady

There was a time when audio was a medium of one-way communication- from listening to your favourite artist sing to a radio show hosted by the most loved RJs. Today, the internet has transformed our relationship with creators. Podcasters, musicians, and influencers from all spheres of life are forging new relationships with their Gen Z fans, who in turn are making their own content. This has blurred the lines between creation and consumption of content, and what was once a one-way broadcast is now an interactive, two-way exchange.

This is an opportunity for brands to understand and act on this deep relationship between creators and listeners and use audio to tap into all the parts of a listener’s personality. There are four reasons why audio has been able to create elevated experiences between creators and fans, and a few ways that brands can seamlessly be a part of this conversation.

Audio adds intimacy to the creator-fan relationship 

Spotify’s latest Culture Next Report highlights that audio is adding access and a deeper connection to the creator-fan relationship. Zs’ audio immersions often veer into fantasy with nearly 90% of them in India having listened to music from a movie or show they like in order to feel like they’re a character in the story. More than 50% of Zs in India said they’ve joined a digital community as fans of a particular creator. Brands can bridge the gap between audio creators and their biggest fans by passing the mic to creators. Create a podcast, or turn a podcast ad campaign into an audio series that features bonus content from the hosts, like unaired bloopers, and candid conversations. This builds a connection between the listener, their favourite podcaster or artist, and the brand.

Audio lets Gen Z express individuality, experience culture

Gen Z grew up with the need to stand out. Nothing enables them to explore and share their unique taste more than audio. As per the Culture Next Report, 80% of Zs in India said audio allows them to explore the outer edges of culture that they wouldn’t otherwise experience. A similar percentage of Zs in India believe that they’ve learned something about themselves by looking back over their listening habits. There’s an opportunity for brands to sponsor playlists that put quality first and genres last, appealing to the fluid personalities of the Zs. There’s also potential to make discovery a part of their daily routine through contextual targeting, reaching them at the right time with unexpected messages.

Audio helps Zs to process raw emotions

Podcasts have evolved from a source of entertainment to a tool for education and learning. With Zs feeling more stressed out than millennials, the former have a heightened need to process their raw emotions and podcasts are providing critical support. The Culture Next Report states that just over 75% of Zs in India turn to podcasts to get answers to hard or personal questions before talking to their families about it, and 74% of the same group said they listen to podcasts to inform the conversations they have with their friends. With podcasts being such an intimate audio format, Gen Z feels especially close to their favourite hosts. Brands can use Host Talent ads, created and voiced by the show's host in the style of the show, where personal anecdotes can complement clear brand messaging.

Audio brings back nostalgia to provide a sense of comfort

While all generations look back fondly to earlier eras, the Zs are reinventing nostalgia. With the instability in the last few years, nostalgia has been shown to provide a sense of comfort amid uncertainty. On social media, Zs are mixing old hits with new visual trends such as lip-syncs, dances, makeup tutorials, fit checks, among others - to go viral. Just above 75% of Zs in India like it when brands bring back old aesthetic styles, highlights the Culture Next Report. But, Zs are as nostalgic as they are forward-looking, and brands can use contextual targeting to reach them when they’re listening to nostalgic, sentimental, and other moody playlists, or even invite an artist to discuss how they take musical cues from the past. 

Self-expression and creativity are core components of how Gen Zs navigate the world, and they are inviting brands to share narratives that reflect these elements. Brands have the opportunity to not only create those journeys for the Zs, but also engage with them in a dialogue by working with creators who matter to this vibrant audience.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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