Opinion: Why do GenZ voices matter in the podcast world?

Nikhil Taneja Yuvaa

Nikhil Taneja of Yuvaa, shares his thoughts on why marketers need to actively keep hearing Gen Z and their voices to build an authentic two-way relationship with them, in the audio content world.

If you are a marketer in 2022, there’s a new buzzword you wouldn’t be able to escape in meetings, even though you may not yet know what to do with it yet. That word is ‘podcast’.

According to research, there are currently over 2 million active podcasts globally, with over 50 million episodes, and there are new ones popping up every day. In India, podcasts accounted for 2.5 billion minutes spent online in October alone, according to a LiveMint article published in December 2021. The same article estimates the monthly active users for audio content and entertainment to be 95 million, even though only 12% of the Indian population has ‘ever listened to a podcast’.

The Audio Revolution

You may very well be among the 88% that hasn’t heard a podcast but you certainly have heard of it, whether it is Varun Duggirala’s Advertising is Dead, Amit Varma’s The Seen and the Unseen, or the massive podcast deal that Spotify India signed with YouTuber Ranveer Allahabadia aka BeerBisceps last year or with gamer Mythpat. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, given that the first adopters of every content trend in the world at the moment, the Gen Zs, are just getting started themselves, especially since their favorite influencers are hopping onto this trend.

YouTuber Sejal Kumar, actor and host Manish Paul, Instagrammers Taneesha Mirwani and Satshya Tharien, have all recently launched their own podcasts, with educator and career influencer Ankur Warikoo and many others using the medium to talk finance and motivation, and some like Anurag Minus Verma using the medium to educate others on important social topics like caste.

India’s first Gen-Z driven youth media and insights company, Yuvaa, did its own research with 10,000+ Gen Z’s last year, and we found something remarkable: one out of 3 young people said they considered themselves to be content creators, where the definition of content also included ‘audio content’. In our qualitative discussions with over 1000+ young people over the course of 2021, we’ve found out anecdotally that one out of 1 out of 5 Gen Zs wants to start their own podcasts. Some of this is peer pressure and trend-chasing, but a lot of it comes from the need to be heard.

Understanding The Gen Z

And that’s not surprising: India has the world’s largest youth population with 65% of India under 35 and over 50% of that under 25. The country has the largest population of Gen Zs in the world. Almost 3 out of every 4 young people advertisers are reaching today are young by default, and it’s not a stretch to say that 1 out of every 3 people they are reaching is a Gen Z, who shares one thing with every other Gen Z in India: they are born digital natives, united by mobile technology and the internet. With over 250 million as an active (and default) audience that lives online as much as they do off it, every marketer today knows that Gen Zs are inevitably their most important target audience.

Even products or brands not aimed at Gen Z, have to keep youth sentiment in mind because in every household with a Gen Z today, the decision of where money is going is influenced by the awareness, knowledge, and expertise of the Gen Z – who help their parents in navigating reviews and criticism of anything that’s being bought through their understanding of the intricacies of the internet.

My real understanding of Gen Z has come through actually listening to them in person and here’s what I have learned:

  • This is a generation where every young person has something to say but there’s very few to listen.
  • They are always on their phone because they are looking for communities, platforms and safe spaces where they can express themselves without being judged.
  • They may be defined in the media by the shortness of their attention span, but the thing we need to know about their identity is that they define themselves more by the depth of the love and passion they have and give to anything new that allows them to be the most authentic version of themselves.

Also read: Content fatigue on the rise – Is Branded Content losing its creative edge?

Why Listening Matters

And is there a better medium than a podcast to express yourself authentically and without fear of judgment? Where visual mediums require a certain visual aesthetic, a high-quality camera, and an understanding of video editing at the very least, with an audio medium like a podcast, you only need a mic and something to say. The question then is, who is listening? And are enough people listening?

Right now, the podcast market is cluttered with hundreds, if not thousands, of new podcasts being launched every month in India, so to begin with, podcast advertising and marketing will be about quality and not quantity. The market right now has been built around faces and talent; and it will take time before new, unheard voices are going to break out, but it is only a matter of time. What will matter until then is who are the Gen Zs that need to be heard, and where are we discovering them.

And it’s imperative that like me, every marketer today takes the time out to hear the Gen Z be able to create, distribute and market to them in a way that connects with them and turns them into the champion of our products and brands organically.

But it’s not enough to read 10 insights about this generation, we will need to actively keep hearing them and their voices to build a meaningful and authentic two-way relationship with them, where we are working together on finding solutions for both us and them together. Because we’d do well to recognize that this is the world of Gen Z, we are just living in it.

This article piece is authored by Nikhil Taneja, Co-founder, and CEO of Gen-Z-driven youth media and insights organization, Yuvaa.