Case Study: Spotify Localization Strategy

Learn how Spotify tackles language barriers and grows a loyal user base with its carefully curated localization strategy.

Major 500 fortune companies all invest heavily in localization, but Spotify is no different. Going above and beyond in trying to understand its audience, Spotify leverages a localization strategy to create a unique user experience for every user. From adjusting the app visuals to belong to every audience to offering tailored playlists that its users love. Learn how Spotify tackles localization to reach new users.

What is Spotify?

Before we dive into the Spotify localization strategy, we must first say a few about what Spotify is. Founded by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon in 2006 in Stockholm, Spotify is an audio streaming and media services provider. Today, Spotify is one of the largest streaming providers with over 456 million monthly active users and 195 million paying subscribers

The company, listed on the New York stock exchange since 2018, operates under the freemium business model. Their strategy is to offer basic services for free while offering more premium ones via paid subscriptions. Their additional source of income comes from selling advertising placements to third parties. 

Spotify is available in most of Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Oceania, with a total availability in 184 markets. And here is where the importance of localization comes into the equation. Strong and global market presence is not a  coincidence but a part of Spotify's localization strategy. 

Read further and learn how Spotify leverages localization strategy for its exponential growth among global listeners.

Spotify on Ipad

Why localization?

Today, Spotify is present in 184 markets around the globe. Meaning they serve 184 different audiences with different historical backgrounds, cultural preferences, languages, and habits. One size fits all strategy does not exist when it comes to music. The experience of listening to music does not vary only from country to country but also from person to person. 

So how do you create a music streaming service that feels inclusive and relevant for a global audience? 

To answer this, Spotify created a sophisticated localization strategy that allows them to blend in with the culture of every new market they enter. The company started by putting a lot of emphasis on translation, but this was only the beginning of its localization strategy. Today Spotify goes above and beyond to create a tailored and inclusive user experience for every subscriber. In the following chapters, we will explain how, so stick with us and keep reading. 

“Localization can be defined in a number of ways, but at Spotify, we think about it as the process of adapting our product and content so it feels local to each listener” 

Localizing visuals for every audience

Spotify does not only adjust the playlists and song recommendations to its users around the globe. By following their mantra of ensuring that Spotify looks just right, no matter where it appears, they put a lot of emphasis on image localization. 

Image localization allows Spotify users to relate to the photographs, illustrations, and other creative elements they encounter when using Spotify. Image localization creates a seamless and natural user experience where users get a sense of belonging. 

See an example of how Spotify users from the USA, India, Taiwan, and Turkey see the Happy Hits playlist when browsing the app. From the pictures below this paragraph, you can see how the layout, text treatment, and background remain consistent on each of the 4 Playlist cover photos. What makes every picture unique is the girl on it. Users from each country see a local girl showing signs of sincere happiness. 

Source: Spotify

Adjusting the content to the local audience

Spotify is a streaming service with almost no written content inside the app, yet it still goes out of its way to spotlight local content. The company strives to capture and highlight traditional music, celebrations, and music associated with different bank holidays around the world. 

Entering the app and seeing relevant and localized content help create a sense that the user is not only a number. All those small details make the difference and lead to a deeper and more meaningful connection between Spotify and its users. 

Localized playlists and personal recommendations

The fact that Spotify is famous for its carefully curated playlists is not just a coincidence. The company leverage data from its user base to create algorithmically curated playlists and personalized recommendations

Spotify analyses user behavior to personalize the experience for every listener. Therefore the app adapts content for specific audiences to help them find the preferable music. One example of Spotify's curated playlist Discover Weekly gained forty million users' attention in only a week. 

When browsing the app, the user can see many recommended playlists that share a theme all across the globe, yet the playlists are different. A playlist named Happy hits in the US doesn't perfectly match the same playlist in India, Britain, or Canada.  

The company does not only localize the content but also tries to globalize its artists. Spotify leverages data from its user base to find and track rising local artists, which they then promote to a global audience. Those playlists appeal to people in a target country but are also discoverable by everyone around the globe. 

Spotify dashboard

Hyper-localized advertising

Last but not least, Spotify achieved its exponential growth by leveraging hyper-localized advertising. This approach allowed Spotify's marketing to simultaneously appeal to a targeted audience while also globalizing the concept of digital streaming.

Hyper-localized ads revealed that Spotify had unique cultural knowledge in every market they targeted. The company started to create a series of daily podcasts and playlists that were localized and targeted to specific audiences. 

A great example of one of their global and successful campaigns is the campaign called Thanks 2016, it's been weird. The goal was to reflect on the music culture through their listener's behavior in the recent year. The campaign allowed Spotify to build a human connection with audiences around the globe by displaying relatable and humorous quotes. 

Final thoughts

Spotify's global dominance is not just luck and coincidence but a product of a carefully curated and executed localization strategy. The company goes out of its way to create a superior user experience in each of the 184 markets the app is available. 

What sets them apart is that Spotify does not tackle localization only based on the countries themselves. Understanding the current local trends and demographics are two vital factors that help Spotify leverage its localization strategy. 

Collaborating with local experts allows Spotify to create a unique user experience with every single user. A 21-year-old college student in the US will experience a completely different than 35 years old mom of two in Singapore. 

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