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'Baking playlists are clear favourites': Spotify on how consumers have changed during Covid-19

In May, the platform saw a 120% increase in baking playlists, with 2,750 dedicated to banana bread globally.

As marketing budgets are being slashed because of the economic downturn because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Spotify needed to be agile in Asia Pacific by taking a close look at its strategy and made adjustments to best support its brand partners throughout the pandemic and into a post-coronavirus world.

Spotify is also well positioned to truly understand what audiences are interested in, because of what it calls it's Streaming Intelligence’, Jan-Paul Jeffrey, head of marketing for Asia at Spotify tells The Drum, allowing the platform to understand how people think, behave and feel through their consumption of digital audio.

"This plays a very important role in helping brands deliver messages that are relevant to the context that people are listening in,” says Jeffery.

“Our brand partners can use this intelligence to take cues from our listeners, enabling them to focus on audio experiences that match the tone of the moment, without disruption. Making sure budgets work harder to maximise the impact of the investment.”

Spotify has seen a number of very interesting trends take shape over the past months as people stay at home because of lockdown restrictions. In real-time, it has able to track the developments, seeing an increased focus on keeping children entertained, staying healthy, keeping busy and chilling out.

In May, the platform saw a 120% increase in baking playlists, with 2,750 dedicated to banana bread globally. Clearly, banana bread has been a quarantine favourite.

“Gen Z and millennials are using audio to cope with anxiety and sleep challenges as part of their overall wellness. Based on trends and insights from recent research we conducted across Southeast Asia, 58% told us audio has shifted from something they tune into, to something that now surrounds their everyday life,” explains Jeffery.

“We believe data drives direction, and that culture and context is everything, so being able to spot insights and build strategies around each of these trends, has offered our brand partners unique and highly relevant opportunities to communicate with Spotify users.”

Around the world, as non-essential commuting was replaced by remote working, normal listening habits took a detour. Spotify has seen consumption boomed across devices changed and adoption of its in-home offerings like desktop computers, TVs, smart speakers and gaming consoles.

Across South East Asia, Spotify has seen a shift in the type of audio that its users are listening to, with streaming for sleep, calm, sad and emo moments increasing by 60%, compared to Q1 of 2019.

“At the same time this has had a knock-on effect to the playlists being created, with more than a 1,400% increase in Work-From-Home themed playlists, 1,000% increase in Education themed playlists, and over one million Cleaning themed playlists, since March,” says Jeffrey.

The pandemic has made virtual life the norm and with more time spent in front of screens, the likelihood of screen burnout or fatigue is very real, post-pandemic.

According to recent research, Spotify undertook across SEA, 60% of Gen Zs and millennials in the region feel there is too much visual stimulation today and that audio is a nice escape from it.

Jeffrey explains that Spotify exists in the realm of screenless moments, which are the other hours that everyone spends away from their devices – cooking, exercising, cleaning, or even trying to get some sleep. He claims listeners are now spending an average of 2.5 hours a day on Spotify.

He believes these screenless moments will also present themselves as behavioural opportunities for brands to tap into, making Spotify a key part of a brand’s media mix.

“We have also found 41% of Gen Zs are using voice activation to search for things they found on visual media, this tells us that the usage of audio and voice will continue to rise, providing an excellent opportunity for brands to get interactive with audio,” he says.

“As an example, we have started testing voice-activated ads in the UK with the cosmetic brand, NARS. When the listener says ‘Send Me a Sample for NARS’, to their smart assistant, the application helps them navigate through registration, and then the sample products are mailed to their address. Podcast listenership will continue to grow globally.”

For example, Spotify has invested heavily in the podcast business, with the likes of Joe Rogan, Michelle Obama and even Nuseir Yassin of Nas Daily signing exclusive Spotify podcasts deal recently.

“As people crave more content for mental wellness, or to educate themselves, or seek content that is more intimate and conversational, we’re primed to meet listeners’ needs especially with the rise in screenless moments,” says Jeffrey.

“Eventually, ad support and insertion for podcasts will offer even more opportunities for our brand partners to connect with listeners.”

With brands investing more in digital audio and sonic branding, consumers are listening to more audio content than ever before, pandemic or not.

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