Trends Defining Gen Z and Millennials in Southeast Asia

Published October 16, 2020, 10:12 AM

by Len Amadora

Audio sits at the heart of how Gen Z and Millennials find their identity, connect with their tribes, and curate their lives. For brands to matter, understanding the role of audio in culture is key.  

Spotify’s first Culture Next report for the region unpacks what defines the new generation, the role of audio in shaping culture and what this means for brands. In partnership with research agencies Culture Co-Op and YouGov, Spotify spoke to 3,000 Gen Zs and Millennials across Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand, to understand their evolving relationship with brands, content, technology, culture, and their communities. Combined with interviews with artists, creators, influencers and Spotify’s Streaming Intelligence data, the report makes for a powerful study of the generations shaping our future.

Geographical locations and backgrounds are no longer what define identity, instead tribes are formed across the globe through shared passions and interests;  

  • 61% are friends with someone from another country
  • 56% define themselves based on who their friends are, what they’re passionate about, and what tribe they belong to  
  • 78% believe music helps them connect with each other and with other cultures

“The way we consume culture has also become the way we communicate,” says film producer, writer, and yoga teacher Najwa Hisham, 26. “Following my favourite artists online also allows me to communicate with my friends and hundreds of others around the world who support the same people.”  

The new global natives use audio and music to find and define their micro-communities by connecting with like-minded people through genres and subgenres. This is big news for brands, as genre-based targeting through Spotify’s Streaming Intelligence allows them to match their audio creative to the listening experience, connecting contextually in real time. The report explores the opportunities this creates for marketers in becoming part of genres like K-Pop which has half a billion monthly streams from Southeast Asia alone

Music is a powerful medium for not only solidarity, but also offers an instant and honest reflection of moments and mindsets, especially as events unfold around the world on a daily basis. Filipino rapper and songwriter Gloc-9 says that social and political awareness plays a big part in changes in global culture, and understanding the issues is key to making a difference.

 “I have always been adamant in sharing my perspective of issues that I understand and even those that I have questions and still need greater understanding of. I feel that if we are truthful, issues can be tackled creatively.”

While being more connected than ever, these generations of the future are also critically evaluating their relationship with digital media, and the content they choose to consume. With 61% feeling there is too much visual stimulation, Culture Next helps marketers understand how they can leverage the power of audio and engage with their audience across the daily screenless moments.  

Spotify provides an opportunity for brands to be a part of culture in real time. The report highlights how audio offers unique and immersive solutions for brands to create contextually relevant, highly emotional, and valuable interactions with an engaged audience. Key insights from the Philippines include:  

  • 73% say they expect brands to be part of the debate, to promote progressive values and play a more meaningful role in society
  • 64% believe brands should convey messaging of moral support and show they understand consumers’ struggles 
  • 58% believe online aesthetics have altered what their generation expects to see in the real world

When cultural moments and shifts happen in the world, we see it reflected on Spotify and that’s especially true in 2020. With Culture Next, we’ve aimed to define trends that resonate among Gen Z and Millennials in order to help brands better connect with these empowered audiences. The power of Spotify is that it is contextual; content has meaning and people are using us to soundtrack everything they do in their lives,” says Jan-Paul Jeffrey, Spotify’s Head of Marketing, SEA at Spotify. “Understanding how Gen Z and Millennials find their identity and define their lives means understanding the role audio plays in shaping culture.” 

To download the Culture Next report and discover what it means for brands and marketers, visit