Spotify & YPulse

Read how Spotify gained a better understanding of Millennial and Gen Z listening habits by using Recollective to build a long-term insight community.

When Spotify came to YPulse to get a better understanding of Millennial and Gen Z listening habits, they were excited to try a 2-month long community built on Recollective as a key component to capturing consumers’ day-to-day routines. Utilizing an ongoing journal activity, Spotify were able to uncover the role music plays in people’s lives and how music impacts their mood and emotions while still offering other activities with more acute intentions alongside. The resulting insights from this research effort have been used to fuel business growth and help position Spotify as thought leaders within the world of streaming and music at large.


Although Millennials have been the key target of interest for brands and research in recent years, Gen Z is now starting to get its fair share of the spotlight. Gen Z isn’t just becoming the new trendsetting generation but will actually be the largest as well. With this generational shift comes changes in consumption and communication used by organizations. Companies are now in a position where they need to understand a new generation and its distinctions from its predecessor. Spotify, aware of this transition, knew it was important to place emphasis on understanding these nuances to better target their brand and products and needed to find a research solution that was conducive to this end.


Spotify already had a compelling proposition in that as people listen to more music, Spotify learns more about the people and provides better recommendations. This premise leads to an enriched and highly idiosyncratic user experience. The challenge that needed to be addressed was how to communicate and demonstrate to Millennial and Gen Z listeners that Spotify understands people through music.

More specifically, Spotify wanted to deep dive into the human needs side of users looking at how they consume content, the situational and emotional landscapes therein as well as the generation nuances between to two audiences. This intended effort dictated the need for an approach that would get at:

  • The day-to-day moments when music is listened to
  • The specific moments when music plays an important role
  • The impact music has emotionally and on mood during these moments

With a more thorough understanding of these highly personalized moments and their impact, communication and advertising collateral could then be crafted and deployed with resonating messaging during those ideal instances. To get at these moments and reflect Spotify’s brand, the research environment needed to be tech forward. Due to the populations of interest, just having an online community wasn’t enough. A lacklustre or dated experience would potentially jeopardize the research which needed to meet the expectations of newer generations and the online engagements and interactions they’re accustomed to.


After understanding Spotify’s challenge, YPulse came up with the solution of a multi-phase, 2-month long initiative. The agency recommended that Spotify leverage quantitative, qualitative, behavioral and ethnographic methods to understand Millennial and Gen Z Spotify users at scale. It was clear to both parties that Recollective would be the most suitable community candidate to bring together 1,800 participants from the desired audiences together online in order to examine the day-to-day moments when music plays a role in the lives of consumers and how their mood was impacted.

Participants would upload photos to show where they were and what they were doing as they listened to Spotify over the course of a given week. As the submissions accumulate, they’d be displayed on an interactive photo wall where visual stories are made easy to identify and investigate further. With the ability to drill down on photos from important population sub-groups or individuals of interest, dates as well as highlight and code relevant contexts, the research team knew that they could get a much clearer sense of these sought-after moments.

Over time and with the amassed ethnographic insight from the community, the level of depth and understanding needed to address advertising questions pivoting from ROI quantification, segmentation and retention models was gathered. The data also served as context to better understand internal usage data and act as a springboard for advertising concepts and idea generation for receptivity testing later on.


The insights gathered from the Recollective portion of this project have continued to serve Spotify long after the community’s completion. This community-based approach resulted in an overall activity completion rate just over 80% and YPulse was able to deliver Spotify with:

  • Immersive audience insights - the ethnographic approach allowed the team to observe everyday aspects of the Millennial and Gen Z audiences with reference to music streaming (with over 9,000 photo submissions to supplement the written contexts)
  • Better understanding - the added context from the qualitative engagement helped elevate the actionability of internal usage data that missed the whole picture
  • Model validation - the qualitative findings helped validate existing models tied to segmentation and retention with the injection of attitudinal insights
  • Potential for advertisement ideas - the knowledge gained from the community was used to develop over 500 advertisement ideas and inform marketing production efforts for further receptivity testing

The depth of the information discovered through Recollective’s range of qualitative exercises taught Spotify about how music is connected to the daily lives of their audiences. This level of understanding now acts as foundation for their future discoveries and a launching point for ensuing research endeavours. The results have engaged teams across the company and helped with both product and communications development.

A great example of how with one single question you end up with a massive project that actually serves many needs within the company.

Marion Boeri

Head of Thought Leadership, Spotify

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Spotify and YPulse

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