A world of good listeners

May 31, 2019 | LONDON
  • ‘Always-on’ generation spend 32 days a year listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks
  • Spend on ‘audiotainment’ up 19% to top €212 in last year
  • One in five tech-savvy ‘audiophiles’ are ‘voice shopping’

It’s official: Europe has a population full of Good Listeners, with new research revealing that the average person listens to two hours and nine minutes of music, podcasts and audiobooks each day – totaling a massive 32 days a year.

The boom in sound comes as new figures from Mastercard reveal that spend on ‘audiotainment’ has jumped by 19% in the last 12 months to reach €212 per person a year on average across Europe. Almost one in three households (30%) were found to own a smart speaker, with men spending on average €73 more a year on their ears than women.

Almost half of the European population (48%) say they wear headphones every day, with millennials topping the charts for the longest duration of one hours and 53 minutes each day.

As well as using audio controlled devices to play music (31%), listen to the radio (23%) and ask questions (13%), a tech-savvy one in five people (21%) say they have shopped using voice activation, with 19% saying they had completed a voice purchase in the last week.

The research revealed that nearly two in five (36%) Europeans expect to be voice shopping in the next five years. According to latest analysis, voice commerce is predicted to reach $40 billion worldwide by 2022.

The Mastercard Sound Index comes as research reveals ‘listeners’ are more in tune with the sounds around us during the longer days in Spring and Summer with two in three people (66%) listening to audio when they run or exercise outdoors. The findings also showed that time-poor adults have become experts in multi-tasking with four in five (81%) listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks while they travel and three in four (74%) when they clean around the house.

The index reveals that women are better listeners than men, but only by three minutes – clocking up 131 minutes a day, compared to 128 minutes for men. 25-34 year olds are listening to more audiobooks than any other age range, with those aged 55 and over spending the most time with paperback books.

The findings show that sound is becoming an even more powerful sense with two in three of those questioned (68%) saying listening to certain sounds helps them exercise, 71% think it makes them more productive and four in five (84%) say it makes them happier. Two in three (74%) say the sounds of nature including birdsong make them feel calmer, while 71% say it reduces stress or anxiety.

Listening to birds singing, hearing waves hit the rocks and the sound of rain hitting the window from inside were revealed as the world’s favourite sounds as part of the study. Others on the list include the sound of a wind rustling trees, pianos playing and crackling.

“Ears are a gateway to reaching the minds and hearts of people around the world, and people are spending more than ever on their ears,” said Rose Beaumont, Senior Vice President Business Enablement and Europe Communications at Mastercard. “We have seen an explosion in audiotainment from podcasts to smart speakers and sound has become the number one companion to today’s always-on multi-tasker. With the trend only expected to grow, we have worked hard to create our own sonic identity to make sound a critical part of how people recognise Mastercard today, and in the future.”

Technology was found to be a big influence on pricking our ears, with smartphone ringtones, alerts and vibrations revealed among Europe’s most recognisable sounds. Two in five (38%) of those questioned say they could recognise a brand by its sound or sonic identity, while more than half (57%) could identify a film by its soundtrack.


  1. Birds singing
  2. Waves hitting rocks
  3. Rain hitting the window
  4. Wind rustling the trees
  5. Crackling fire
  6. Piano playing
  7. Cats purring
  8. Babies laughing
  9. Listening to the violin
  10. People laughing


– Ends –


For more information and imagery please contact alice.caldwell@mastercard.com.

Mastercard at Money 20/20 Europe

Mastercard will have a stand, located in the main hall at B50 at Money 20/20 Europe from 3rd – 5th June with a number of key execs available for media interviews – for more information please visit the Mastercard Newsroom  for images, press releases and information or look at @MastercardEU throughout 3rd – 5th June 2019.

Notes To Editors

The Mastercard Sound Index analysed data questioning 6,500 adults across 12 countries in May 2019.

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

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