Tune in to the podcast consumer

Are you plugged in to your favourite podcasts every day? Or have you just begun to dip your toes into the shimmering podcast waters? The niche market of podcasting has blossomed, making its way through headphones, earbuds, vehicle sound systems, and finally into the mainstream media — you know you've made it when you get on Jeopardy!

But who exactly is the Canadian podcast listener? We've pulled together some statistics to satisfy your curiosity based on a survey we conducted between December 2016 and March 2017. Adults over the age of 18 who had purchased a book (in any format) in the previous month were surveyed. 

Respondents were classified as podcast consumers if they selected that they listen to podcasts "daily," "several times a week/weekly," or "1-3 times per month." Respondents who reported that they listen to podcasts "less than once a month, but sometimes," were not included in our analysis. The resulting data is based on 272 podcast consumers who made 627 book purchases during this time period.

And off we go!

Demographics of podcast consumers

Podcast consumers are male-leaning — 55.1% of respondents identified as male, 44.9% as female. The graph below depicts the age brackets of podcast consumers. With an average age of 39, podcast consumers are relatively young; almost 70% of respondents fall between the ages of 19 and 44.

Based on the graph below, which depicts podcast consumers by region, we see that over half of consumers (55.9%) reside in Central Canada, a region comprising Ontario and Quebec. The West, which combines British Columbia with the three territories, is the region with the fewest podcast consumers (12.5%).

Book-buying habits of podcast consumers

How do podcast consumers buy books? The graph below depicts the channels in which podcast consumers purchase books. Online purchases are a clear favourite, perhaps because podcast consumers are supposedly more technologically inclined; in fact, audio storytelling has grown more popular partially due to technological advances. Yet, this analysis is contradicted when we look at ebook/audiobook downloads and mobile app book purchases, both of which are relatively low at 3.3% and 4.6% respectively. There's probably more at play than the ease of technology when it comes to how and where podcast consumers buy books.

What book formats do podcast consumers prefer?

The two graphs below compare the formats purchased by podcast consumers against those purchased by general book consumers. Podcast consumers are more likely to purchase hardcovers than the general book consumer, although paperbacks are still the format most heavily purchased by both groups. Preference for the ebook format is lower among podcast consumers (16.1%) than for general book consumers (18.9%), once again suggesting that it might not be the overall technological advancement of a given format attracting podcast consumers, but rather the audio form itself.

Are podcasts consumers listening to audiobooks?

Podcasts may indeed be a gateway to the audiobook format, given that the graphs above show that podcast consumers buy more than twice as many audiobooks (3.8%) as general book consumers (1.3%). The Audio Publishers Association's latest sales survey also reported that respondents who consumed both podcasts and audiobooks listened to twice as many audiobooks in the last year when compared to non-podcast consumers.

Podcasts aren't leaving any time soon — the recent announcement of Apple's newest podcast analytics opens up new possibilities for data and direction in the podcast world, and we look forward to following the podcast trajectory.

Interested in learning more about consumers of audio storytelling? Read our Are You Still Listening? Audiobook Use in Canada 2016 study! Looking for a new podcast to listen to? Check out our podcast on Audiobooks and the sound of sales.