en Zers are increasingly turning to podcasts for entertainment, information, and comfort, with 32% saying they’re regular podcast listeners, and 44% of Gen Zers reporting they listen to the native ads within podcasts. For marketers, this signals a plethora of new ways to reach a younger audience with avenues such as scripted advertisements (a sort of throwback to radio ads), dynamic ad insertion, and partnerships with podcasts and their hosts.
But before marketers start diving into the podcast universe, you must know where your audience is already listening.
Understanding which podcasts are capturing Gen Z’s attention will not only help you choose which shows to promote your brand on but also keep you up to date on the topics important to this youngest generation.
While Gen Z’s top three favorite podcast genres are comedy, true crime, and pop culture, their interests run the gamut. Gen Z is one of the most diverse and unique generations we have ever experienced — growing up accustomed to personalized media and the internet always at their fingertips has made them interested in a wide variety of topics.
This article will cover nine popular podcasts among Gen Z listeners and discuss in-depth what makes them successful.
1. Charli and Dixie: 2 CHIX
Sisters Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, of TikTok fame, launched a podcast in October 2020 where they: “cover interesting topics, share stories, tackle difficult conversations, engage with guests that we either love or completely disagree with … and nonstop sister banter.”
The podcast is produced by Ramble, the result of a collab between United Talent Agency and Cadence13. “Charli and Dixie: 2 CHIX” is not the first foray into the podcast world by popular TikTokers. Charli and Dixie join the ranks of others like Bryce Hall, Noah Beck, and Addison Rae - other teenagers who have been catapulted into fame from the short-form video app TikTok.
Why It Works
Conversational podcasts draw listeners in and make them feel like they have an intimate connection with the podcast hosts. This works especially well if the host or hosts are celebrities or influencers that fans want to feel a connection with or demystify.
Their podcast popularity is largely due to the D’Amelios being two of the most recognized names among Gen Zers. To give perspective, at the time of writing, the D’Amelios’ TikTok profiles, collectively, have over 140 million followers. By using their already built influence to draw fans to the podcast the sisters offer an intimate look into their lives and the issues they care about. This show has been massively popular among Gen Z.
2. Teenager Therapy
“Teenager Therapy” is another conversational podcast with “five stressed, sleep-deprived, yet energetic teens” that has caught the attention of Gen Z and was even profiled by Wired and The New York Times.
Praised for the down to earth and fully transparent attitudes of the five hosts — high schoolers living in California — as well as the spectrum of topics it covers each week, this podcast is driving important conversations among its young listeners. “Teenager Therapy” is produced by Flighthouse and answers this pivotal question: “Is high school really as bad as everyone says?”
Why It Works:
Listen for a few minutes and you can understand why “Teenager Therapy” has gained the trust of Gen Zers across the country. The host’s candidness and down-to-earth nature instantly make any listener feel like they’re best friends with the five hosts who bring humor, sincerity, and transparency to each episode.
Teenager Therapy dives deep into topics like the struggles of online schooling, dating, periods, pronouns, friendships, and how to deal with parental pressure or a family member’s death.
Its hosts have also sat down and had important conversations surrounding larger topics impacting Gen Zers around the world such as issues facing minority communities. In October, they even hosted a 30-minute episode with Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, where they discussed mental health and stigmas surrounding it in honor of World Mental Health Day.
3. The TryPod
The TryGuys —Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, Zach Kornfeld, and Eugene Lee Yang — rose to popularity through their YouTube channel where they’ve done (and continue to do) pretty much anything to entertain their 7.37 million subscribers. What began in 2014 has since evolved into worldwide recognition, a book deal, a U.S. tour, and, a podcast: “The TryPod.”
The TryPod launched in April 2019 and has covered both light-hearted and more serious topics, from Animal Crossing and The Cheesecake Factory to mental health and the Black Lives Matter movement. The podcast has seen success partially due to the ability to drive fans from their wildly popular YouTube channel.
The TryPod differs from the group’s YouTube channel with more conversational and deep topics. While the YouTube channel is filled with videos of the hosts trying new experiences — from the outlandish to the downright hilarious — the podcast gives their followers a better chance to get to know theTryGuys. Each podcast episode is usually over one hour long and delves into their personal lives and their experiences as internet creators.
Why It Works:
Drawing upon their dedicated YouTube audience, “The TryPod” gives listeners an extra glimpse into the lives of their favorite TryGuys. The show is a blend of their signature humor, hilarious experiences, and daily life updates that their fans love.
The conversational and personal tone of the podcast helps The TryGuys develop stronger connections to and trust with their fans. Marketers can then successfully collaborate with the podcast or each host himself to market to the engaged audience.
Take, for example, the Coors Brewing Company. It has collaborated with the podcast to promote its hard seltzers via scripted ads that play at the beginning of certain episodes. Because these ads are usually read by one of the hosts of the podcast, the listener is more likely to trust the ad.
4. Let’s Be Real with Sammy Jaye
Sammy Jaye first stepped into the spotlight as a teen host for Radio Disney. Now, she’s breaking barriers as the podcast industry’s youngest, syndicated podcast host at 17 with her show, “Let’s Be Real with Sammy Jaye.”
The interview-style show is produced by iHeartRadio and began at the end of January 2020. In each episode, she sits down with celebrities, activists, athletes, and influencers to discuss real-life issues and opens up about her own experiences.
Why it Works:
Young listeners can place themselves in Sammy Jaye’s shoes as she talks to big names in the Gen Z version of Who’s Who — from Ke$ha to Jordan Fisher to Dixie D’Amelio. Her warm and welcoming personality shines through each episode and her own experiences as a teen get her asking questions her listeners may have, as well.
Jaye’s ability to connect with Gen Z has made her into an influencer in her own right— meaning marketers should capitalize on her influence with the younger generation. Earlier this year, she partnered with Global Citizen and HeadCount to encourage other Gen Zers to vote in the 2020 presidential election. Marketers can also look to partner with her to create scripted ads Jaye herself reads at the beginning or end of the podcast.
5. Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain
Emma Chamberlain rose to fame as a relatable YouTuber; someone who doesn’t always wear makeup, who fills her videos with rants, awkward silences, and humor, who is, to boil it down, relatable. Because of her massive YouTube success, she has won numerous awards and partnered with Vogue magazine during Paris Fashion Week.
Her newest way of entertaining her fans is through her podcast, “Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain.” The show, originally called “Stupid Genius,” began in 2019 and current episodes center around anything: from advice to diary readings to her pet peeves.
Why It Works:
Emma Chamberlain’s podcast is an extension of her laid back, casual attitude (yet wholly aspirational lifestyle) and represents the random musings of every teen. Like Charli and Dixie, her large social media and YouTube following drive fans to the podcast, and she can easily cross-promote her content across her different accounts.
Marketers can capitalize on a cross-platform campaign to capture the attention of Chamberlain’s dedicated followers and hone in on her audience. By promoting a brand on her many platforms, you’ll increase visibility and begin to establish trust with her audience.
6. Armchair Expert
Actor Dax Shepard and Emmy-nominated Monica Padman are the hosts of the hit podcast “Armchair Expert” that dives into “the messy business of being human.” The podcast aired in February 2018 and is known for the deep conversations the two hosts have with celebrities; from singers like Halsey to celebrities like Kristen Bell (Shepard’s wife) to writers like Ibram X. Kendi. “Armchair Expert” delves into how each of these people overcame personal struggles, showing their audience that underneath headline-worthy names are people just like them.
Another aspect that sets this show apart from other celebrity-studded podcasts is that during the last 30 minutes, Padman fact checks any claims or statements made by their guests or Shepard himself while weaving in personal anecdotes and stories.
As consumers increasingly look to and value transparency, this extra step strengthens the podcast’s audience trust in their hosts. For marketers, this trust can translate to conversions if you decide to collaborate with an influencer or podcast host.
Why it Works:
Dax Shepard and Monica Padman bring both their connections and unique personalities to the show which only uplifts, not drowns out, the voices of their guests. Padman’s fact-checking is also a contributing factor to the success of the podcast in a world inundated with misinformation and seeking transparency, from brands, people, and beyond.
Marketers should take the trust created through a host’s transparency and turn it into brand affinity.
7. My Favorite Murder
“My Favorite Murder” with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstack is a perfect blend of true crime, humor, and conversation. The podcast has been around since 2016 but remains a favorite among true-crime junkies and Gen Zers alike.
The show airs two episodes a week, with one deep-dive into a murder and a shorter episode — dubbed a “minisode.” These shorter episodes tap into the world of short-form content and make the podcast appealing for Gen Z audiences (infamously known for their fleeting attention spans).
Why It Works:
True crime has been on the rise for decades and Serial (the podcast of podcasts and the most downloaded podcast with over 300 million) demonstrated the power of investigative journalism and true crime. “My Favorite Murder” ties in comedy, conversation, and true crime for episodes that are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hopeful, and always compelling.
8. The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel
Part “Stranger Things” and part “Spy Kids,” “The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel” is a serial mystery series produced by Gen-Z Media and hearkens back to old, scripted radio shows. The series is currently in its third season and has been a Gen Z favorite since it launched in 2016 (it even took home a Peabody Award that year).
Why It Works:
This podcast is especially popular among members of Gen Z on the younger end of the spectrum for its interesting storyline and excellent voice acting by a cast of talented teens.
Reaching younger Gen Z members can be a little more difficult as a lot of their parents still may limit the amount of time they spent on devices or the platforms they’re able to download. By meeting your audience where they’re at — in this case through podcast audio ads — your brand can increase visibility and generate leads among young consumers.
9. What’s Good Games: A Video Game Podcast
Launched in May 2017, “What’s Good Games” is hosted by Andrea Rene, Brittney Brombacher, and Kristine Steimer and cover topics such as new game releases, analysis, and commentary on and about the gaming industry.
Why It Works:
As gaming becomes more popular and accessible thanks to the creation of new technologies and platforms, new audiences for extra content concerning gaming are forming. This podcast provides not only general information but exclusive insight and interviews that capture the attention of its listeners. The three hosts, all female, are also particularly important to the show’s success as gaming has long since been an activity that’s dominated by males but has seen a shift toward more equal gender representation.
While podcasts have long been associated with Millennials, Gen Zers are proving to be another receptive audience as shows created by their favorite influencers and fellow members begin to create podcasts with them in mind. This list of nine podcasts runs the gamut from influencer hosts to true crime deep dives, yet are capturing the minds and time of teens across the nation.
Marketers should look to podcasts as a new way to reach audiences through either partnering with the hosts to run scripted ads (which have been proven to be highly effective) or through the podcast hosting platform itself, where dynamic ad insertion is on the rise.