Spotify Advertising recently dropped the latest edition of their Culture Next report, identifying the global trends defining Gen Z and Millennials.

Among some interesting insights into current listening habits are some real gems for those involved in content marketing. From the enduring popularity of digital experiences to questions of identity and market segmentation, there’s plenty to learn.

But what does all this mean for those of us involved in digital marketing? How can brands take these findings and run with them? And what else should we be doing to engage our Gen Z and Millennial audiences?

The shift toward digital experiences is more than just a response to COVID

It’s hard to deny the impact that COVID has had on the world over the last 12-18 months. Most significantly, how and where we engage with the world has shifted, with our homes becoming the centre of our universe. This has been particularly true for Gen Z and Millennials, with 44% and 55% respectively saying the pandemic has shrunk their social circles.

This has made digital devices even more important, as they are now seen as key to maintaining a sense of connection. As part of this, Gen Z and Millennials are increasingly using connected home devices to listen to audio content. For example, over the last 12 months, audio streaming on TVs has increased by 71% and on smart home speakers by 37%.

But the increased consumption of digital content isn’t just a COVID phenomenon – it’s actually a longer-term trend. In fact, both Gen Z and Millennials have shown a preference for digital experiences, regardless of the current climate. 43% of Millennials and 32% of Gen Z also indicated they plan to continue attending virtual events post-COVID.

In many ways, this is great news because it means the appetite for digital content is only going to grow. However, if digital experiences are the new norm, brands will need to adjust their content strategy to suit a more home-based customer. We’ll also need to find new and creative ways to cut through the digital noise and connect with our audience.

The rise and rise of podcasts

Over the last few years, we’ve seen podcasts go from niche format to major media channel. As key platforms for leaders in almost every cultural group, podcasts have become a crucial information source. They’re also an important mode of connection, with many well-known content creators using podcasts to engage with their followers.

One of the main reasons podcasts are so effective at reaching Gen Z and Millennials is the sense of authenticity. While many are generally sceptical about traditional news and media sources, podcasts are seen as raw, real, and relatable.

The good news is that this credibility extends to podcast advertising. In fact, 41% of listeners noted they were more likely to trust an ad they heard on a podcast. What’s more, an astounding 81% said they’d taken action after hearing an ad on a podcast.

This highlights the potential value of including podcast activities in your content strategy. To be effective, this must be done honestly, openly, and in a way that connects with the desired audience. All advertising activity also needs to align with the spirit and values of the podcast it’s appearing on.

Understanding affinities, not targeting demographics

While targeting demographics such as age, gender and location can help to narrow down your audience, these groupings tend to be too broadly defined. As such, we generally consider multiple factors, including more specific interests, when developing digital marketing strategies and refining messaging.

This is becoming more important as many Millennials and Gen Z are now eschewing the stereotypes of traditional identifiers (e.g. gender). Engagement approaches need to evolve in line with these changes, focusing on more active cultural identifiers and actual shared interests.

Whether it’s K-Pop, gaming, or 90’s nostalgia, these affinities represent true communities and real passions for their devotees. What’s more, the nature of pop culture means that new communities are being created constantly. These bring people of all backgrounds together and provide a single unifying force for digital marketing to tap into.

That being said, adopting an affinity-based approach would be a fundamental change to how digital and content marketing is traditionally done. As fan communities are now stronger and more influential than they’ve ever been, there’s clearly an opportunity to leverage the energy and commitment of these groups.

The importance of creating immersive experiences

Audio has long been loved for its ability to help people relax and unwind. This is a view shared by Gen Z and Millennials, with 76% saying they use audio to help reduce stress. What’s more, a similar percentage (75%) said they saw audio as a resource for managing their mental health.

This is in no small part thanks to audio’s ability to provide an escape and to create new worlds. In fact, 64% of millennials identified audio as the most immersive media.

This really reinforces the importance of including audio media in any content strategy. Noting the passion and connection Gen Z and Millennials have to audio, there’s value in brands leveraging this medium. This could be by advertising on platforms like Spotify or during individual podcasts, or by producing unique content.

Let’s dig a little deeper

At Distl, we’re continually exploring the latest digital marketing trends to identify new opportunities for our clients.

Whether you want to connect with a Millennial or Gen Z audience, develop a content strategy or start Spotify advertising, we’re here to help.

Get in touch with us today to find out more.


Ryan Wilson

Marketing Team Lead