Focus on Tech & Telco: Audio deepens Gen Z's relationship with brands

Technology and telecommunications brands have a wealth of data on their Gen Z consumers which, in theory, creates opportunities to customize and personalize offerings. But—let's be real—is your brand meaningfully engaging in an intimate relationship with next-gen consumers? Genuine connection remains challenging in a category that lacks brand differentiation.

Gen Z consumers are all about having brand experiences that are unique, and all their own. In today’s social media era—where screentime has evolved from pure entertainment to hangover-inducing—Zs are seeking alternatives, and they’re turning to audio. According to our Culture Next 2022 research, 45% of Zs say they enjoy listening to audio more than they enjoy staring at a screen, compared with 25% who disagreed and 30% who had a neutral opinion. Plus, nearly half (49%) say they pay more attention when they listen to versus when they look at something.1 Young audiences are discovering that audio can take them on immersive, emotional, and personal journeys—in a way few other mediums can.

We spoke with Spotify’s Category Development Officer for Tech & Telco, Liz Walsh, to learn about how Spotify can help bolster your telecom marketing efforts to create consumer intimacy among Gen Zs...

Q: Tech and telco brands are always-there companions but, even so, consumers don’t often report feeling a real emotional bond with products in this category. What are the opportunities to forge a more emotional connection with Zs?

“It’s true, tech and telco brands are the brands that consumers probably spend the most time with—there’s a level of personal intimacy that comes with not only being a companion for individuals in specific moments, but being a long-term part of their lives through milestones big and small, and having a relationship that evolves with them as needed. Very few other types of products can claim to match that. Tech and telco brands start in a good position to be able to grow closer with young people over time, and Spotify cultivates that bond into something that’s immersive and indelible. That intimacy that audio generates is actually beneficial at scale: we create long-term value for brands.”

Q: What are some examples of the personal intimacy that Zs feel in the tech and telco space?

Gen Zs are always on their mobile devices, but not everything they’re doing makes them feel good; studies show that social media has amplified insecurities. But audio has emerged as a form of self-care for this generation. 63% of Gen Zs consider audio a mental health resource, while 67% use audio to cope with stress and anxiety, according to our Culture Next research study.1

Podcasts are a really great example of how audio can create an emotionally safe space for this audience. Shows explore topics that Gen Zs are confronting for the first time and answer questions they have. They consider podcasts almost as a type of therapy or self-help, or even as a conversation with a best friend. This perception creates a unique opportunity for brands—a great example being the campaign run by meditation app Petit Bambou, who were able to reach its Italian audience through a series of memorable audio ads and successfully drive listeners to its platform. With the right message, tech and telco brands can experience the halo effect of coming through for young consumers on this deeply emotional level.”

62% of 18- to 24-year-olds said they turn to podcasts for answers to hard or personal questions even before talking to their families.¹

Q: When people think of the emotional landscape of audio, music is often top of mind. But it’s interesting that you mention podcasts first.

“Music is the classic example. But digital streaming audio offers a wide range of experiences. Spotify can take listeners on a range of journeys that no one else can. I’m thinking of storytelling across music, podcasting, and audiobooks. For example, the Spotify Original podcast, Unexplained Mysteries, uses sound to immerse audiences in historical events, such as Roswell in the 1940s or the famous Alcatraz prison break in the ‘60s—you really feel like you’re there experiencing those moments!

Yet beyond stories, audio also has a unique ability to immerse young people in communities and subcultures that they may not have otherwise accessed. Zs come to Spotify to connect with like-minded folks—maybe it’s over a shared love of hip-hop, or activities like rock climbing or investing in crypto, or just a similar sense of humor. For younger Zs, these communities play a critical role in how they discover who they want to be in the world. And as they get older, audio can be a tool for them to express themselves, whether by sharing music or even by creating their own podcast.

So, audio provides a powerful layer of self-exploration and self-expression, especially during this young generation’s most formative years. By helping Zs tune into themselves and their communities, tech and telco brands really have an opportunity to cultivate relevance for life.”

81% of Zs said they like it when platforms like Spotify give them an end-of-year report that tells them about their usage habits.¹

For more on how brands can connect with Gen Zs, check out the full Culture Next 2022 report.

  1. Spotify Culture Next survey, MAR-APR'22

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