Why retail brands should stop underestimating podcasts

By Chris Beer, Market Intelligence Manager at GWI

If there’s ever been a good time to get to know how people actually think and feel, it’s now.

While podcasts might still be less popular than music streaming, they have been enjoying regular growth over the past few years. Many thought that with the pandemic, and people not taking their regular commute anymore, podcasts would take a big hit, but instead, they’ve continued to grow steadily.

In fact, our data shows that the number of Spotify users tuning into podcasts has increased by 5% since before COVID-19 hit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Spotify has also been increasing its investment in podcasts over the past year, with the launch of its Audience Network and podcast ads in the UK and Germany.

The format has been more and more successful among millennials. In fact, our data reveals that the proportion of millennials listening to podcasts on their mobile has grown by 8% since 2017, reaching 35% in 2020. So why should this matter to retail brands?

Building your brand via podcasts

According to our recent findings, 11% of consumers globally typically find out about new brands and products via podcasts. This means that there is a real opportunity for retailers to reach an increasingly engaged audience through this medium.

Brand-building is now more important than ever, and retailers will need to demonstrate both understanding and empathy, as these are the qualities in brands that audiences will turn to. There is no better way to do this than through a human voice.  Podcast advertising offers brands an effective and powerful way to engage with their audiences.

The millennial opportunity

While radio ads are the most impactful with Gen X and baby boomers, podcasts and music-streaming services are the most effective audio ad channels for Gen Z and millennials. In fact, 51% of millennials across the world are now listening to podcasts on any device, and they are spending an average of one hour each day listening to them.

However, it’s not just the age of the podcast audience that makes them captivating, it’s their willingness to put their hand in their pockets. Podcast listeners are more likely to say they buy brands they hear advertised. Not to mention they’re also more likely to buy premium versions of products, to describe themselves as affluent, and to want the latest tech products.

Interestingly, millennials are also 13% more likely than the average consumer to discover new brands via podcasts. This is a key opportunity for retail brands to reach this prime audience via podcast advertising.

Approaching big audiences

It’s not just millennials listening to podcasts. Our data reveals that since 2018, the proportion of all internet users listening to podcasts via mobile each month has increased by 34%.

While Spotify isn’t the only game in town, the bundle of new features for advertisers it has unveiled over the last few months signals which directions things are headed. Retail brands will start to see the benefits of targeting through platforms’ user data, and have much more detailed metrics about an ad’s success rate.

But retail brands also need to remember that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to a successful ad campaign. Each audience requires a tailored advertising approach. When investing in ad spend, retailers should throw away any audience assumptions, and leverage specific insights. When you understand your audience, success will follow.

As podcasts become more popular, retail brands should really consider it as a tool to target audiences. But when developing ad campaigns, they should leverage data and insights that will give them a clear picture of who the different audiences are, what they like and why they like it. Ultimately, ideas work better with solid insight behind them.

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