Debunking 3 Common Gen Z Marketing Myths

Melissa Kiddie, Senior Manager of Audiences, Sales MarketingJan 5, 2023

Marketing to this generation might not be as straightforward as you think.

When it comes to Gen Z, the common perception is that they’re hard to reach. The supposed ambiguity of this group has left advertisers scratching their heads on how to break through. In fact, over the last five years, there have been countless articles attempting to personify the Gen Z consumer. Marketers often make generalizations and recycle the same surface-level insights, skipping over the nuances that make this audience so unique.

At SXM Media, we have unparalleled access to Gen Z's ears. Their audio-listening behaviors offer a window into who they truly are and what matters most to them. Considering all the published industry reports on Gen Z,  we wanted to investigate for ourselves and get to the heart of this generation to unpack some of the most common misconceptions about this audience. We dove into our in-house data and studies to debunk the myths and unpack the realities—and opportunities—of this up-and-coming generation.

Myth #1: They're Addicted to Their Screens

Reality: 52% of Gen Z is listening to more audio than they did a year ago.1

Yes, they were born into the age of the Internet, but they still get screen fatigue—possibly more than any other generation. With many of them coming of age during the pandemic, daily screen time is an overall concern for Gen Z. They are highly aware that scrolling for hours can feel like an antisocial, bottomless pit of despair. As a backlash to the increasing digitalization of their lives, Gen Zers are proactively seeking out more screen-free activities—and audio fits nicely into their lives because they can bring it with them everywhere.

Gen Z Insights Image

Advice for brands: reach Gen Z where they're more open to your brand message.

Brands that want to reach this audience need to invest in a thoughtful sonic strategy. Consider this: one in three Gen Z listeners say they’ve discovered new brands or products through ads they’ve heard on streaming audio. And the more video and social content that is created, the more Gen Z craves audio. Audio is essential to the Gen Z experience and offers an intimate, one-on-one environment where brands can speak directly into their ear with a personalized message.

Myth #2: They Prioritize Gaming and Social Media

Reality: Music is actually their #1 interest. 2

Gen Z Interests Image

While this generation is known for their gaming and visual media consumption, music is actually most important to them. In fact, 78% of Gen Zers listen to music every day, whether that’s solo, with friends at home, or on the go. And about half of Gen Z says music is part of who they are, leaning on it to get them through the day. They listen across genres and gravitate towards music they can identify with emotionally, personally, and culturally.

Advice for brands: be a part of Gen Z's daily routine with an "always-on" music strategy.

For Gen Z, music is the soundtrack to their life. They are the ultimate multi-taskers and are more likely to listen to music while studying or doing homework, playing video games, watching TV and movies, and shopping online. Your brand can leverage music genre and mood targeting to seamlessly fit any vibe or setting imaginable and guarantee your media dollars are reaching Gen Z’s ears anytime, anywhere.

Myth #3: They're Difficult to Entertain

Reality: They find entertainment in the most surprising places.

Gen Zers are students of life with an intense curiosity for all things pop culture. This generation loves to dive deep down the rabbit hole to explore every detail of a specific topic they love. In fact, 46% of Gen Z listens to podcasts for pure entertainment. Podcasts keep them captivated for hours on end and help them engage with their biggest obsessions, with 1 in 4 listening to feel connected to their interests and lifestyle. Whether it’s true crime stories or reality TV recaps, Gen Z is turning to podcasts where they can go even deeper with even more content.

Top Gen Z Podcast Genres Image

When life gets complicated, Gen Zers turn to their favorite podcast hosts for their comedic commentary, how-to guides, and step-by-step instructions. Their relatable stories and advice make them the most authentic in the eyes of Gen Z. In fact, 64% of Gen Z podcast listeners find podcast hosts to be the most authentic media figures over radio personalities, TV hosts, celebrities, and influencers.

Advice for brands: grab Gen Z's attention by placing your ads in podcasts they care about with voices they trust.

To connect with Gen Z, brands need to be authentic and relatable while also providing experiences that are entertaining, creative, and uplifting. Our hosts develop a deep, vulnerable connection with their listeners that feels genuine—like talking to a best friend. Let the most popular podcast hosts speak directly to Gen Z on behalf of your brand in a captivating, approachable way.

Final Thoughts

The best way to capture and hold Gen Z’s attention is through the power of audio. Audio is endemic to the Gen Z experience, and advertisers should invest in an audio strategy that reflects this strong, intimate relationship.

Gen Z is redefining culture and expressing their individuality, building an infinite landscape that is for them and by them. And they’re shaping the future of audio. As Gen Z gets older, audio will continue to evolve in their image. The more advertisers take the time to fully understand the nuances of this audience, the more respect they will have for a brand. 

Let’s chat to see how your brand can access the real voices of the next generation through the SXM Media Audio Universe.


1. Pandora Soundboard User Study, March 2022: Base: A18-24

2. SXM Media, Gen Z & Millennial Study, A13-34 March 2022

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