The Curation Generation: How UAE millennials and Gen Zs are redefining digital audio

Spotify unveils the UAE edition of Culture Next, the Annual Global Culture & Trends Report. This year’s report features the UAE for the first time, exploring how Gen Zs and millennials are navigating a common challenge – rebuilding culture from the ground up as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to upend the idea of “normalcy and the ongoing global movement for social justice ” – and the role of digital audio in their lives as they drive us forward.

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Culture Next is designed to give advertisers an inside look into what moves and motivates millennials and Gen Zs, the differences and commonalities in how they’re engaging with and driving culture, and the best ways for marketers to use digital audio to thoughtfully connect with them.

Key findings from the study highlight the unique ways Gen Zs and millennials are leveraging podcasts, embracing diversity, and ultimately becoming the ‘Curation Generations.’ Assembled through dozens of interviews with listeners, creators, and advertising execs in 18 countries including the UAE, along with a combination of qualitative, quantitative, and first-party data analysis, the report identified the most influential trends shaping the future of audio and advertising. The data in the report is localized for 16 markets globally.

Audio is a stress-reliever

Delving into listeners trends in the UAE, audio was perceived as a stress-reliever, where 69% of millennials and 58% of Gen Zs use audio to reduce their stress levels. This was also backed up by the fact that 61% of Gen Zs feel “more centered and generally happier” when listening to their favorite music on a daily basis. 68% of UAE-based millennials see audio as a mental health resource. There is a growing listening average in podcasts related to mental health, alternative health, and spirituality.

Streaming drives culture

With curation being a critical part of how culture is being shaped today, streaming is being seen more and more as a key driver for discovery and the formation of a global community. In the UAE, 73% of millennials and 54% of Gen Zs believe that streaming platforms in general, including audio, have significantly shaped the way they discover and connect to the culture as a whole. 64% of millennials and 46% of Gen Zs in the UAE have used music as a way to discover cultures and experiences different from their own. 59% of millennials and 46% of Gen Zs in UAE have made a friend who lives in another country through music or podcasts.

Audio enables diverse viewpoints and amplifies unheard perspectives

The Gen Zs are the most racially and culturally diverse generation yet, and they expect brands to reflect, represent, and empower them through their campaigns, talent partnerships, and participation in social justice movements. For young millennials and Gen Zs, in particular, the emergence of new voices in the audio space has made them feel represented. 62% of millennials and 43% of Gen Zs in the UAE said they searched for more content from more diverse creators and podcasts last year. Through audio, millennial and Gen Z creators are finding a medium ready to embrace projects that represent and empower them and their communities. 51% of UAE Gen Zs believe they have more freedom than previous generations to express their authenticity and both generations agree that today’s culture is more open than ever to hearing divergent voices.