Research by Spotify and Mindshare discovered six key identity mindsets that define how users engage with digital audio streaming.

Digital audio is now mainstream and streaming platforms like Spotify are influencing the way people engage with their passions and interests more than ever. But what does this look like in reality? We teamed up with Mindshare on a new study to uncover how identity is linked to people’s audio streaming behaviour.

For decades, media has played an important role in shaping people’s identities. As media has evolved – from linear to digital to streaming – so has the way we see and present ourselves to the world. From self-expression to our relationship with other cultures, our identities influence our behaviours, passions, and interests, and connect us through shared experiences. What’s more, identity is driving decisions that impact every aspect of our lives – including the media we choose to consume.

We leveraged Mindshare’s ‘Precisely Human Intelligence’ methodology to understand the consumer through data accuracy and their personal values. Ultimately, we show how advertisers can be engaged with empathy. We also leveraged our streaming intelligence to determine ad-supported Spotify listeners’ streaming behaviours in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

For advertisers, bringing more engagement and interactivity to the audio experience provides an unparalleled opportunity to get creative in how they communicate their key messages, and paves the way for a stronger connection between brands and their target audiences.

With this latest research, we discovered six key identity mindsets highlighted below, which we believe underscore just how engaged our listeners are and why advertisers looking to empathise with them need to take note.

1. Self-expression

People’s podcast listening reflects their identity, as 58% agree that the podcasts they listen to say a lot about who they are, although nearly half of respondents (47%) said that people would be surprised to know what podcasts they listen to.

2. Connection

Streaming music gives Spotify users a sense of belonging and a way to connect with others, with 40% saying that playlists allow them to connect with other people. Podcasts are also a way to connect, as 55% agreed that sharing podcasts is a way to start conversations and socialise with others.

3. Moods and emotions

Music streaming provides instant gratification and triggers the nostalgic emotions inherent to people’s identity. 65% of people have different playlists for different moods (i.e. energetic, relaxation, etc.).

4. Pushing cultural boundaries

When it comes to podcasts, 68% listen to podcasts to get different points of view on a specific topic, and 61% agree that podcasts help them to develop a deeper understanding of different cultures.

5. Activity/movement-based moments

More and more people are streaming their music whilst on the move, with 75% saying that podcasts allow them to enjoy content while they are on the go or doing other things.

6. Discovery

Streaming platforms are the way to discover new and relevant music, with 70% saying that they are always able to find great content to listen to. Understanding how identity manifests in the audio space is crucial for brands to then be relevant in the right context and able to respond to consumers’ needs and emotions, and forge deeper connections with them.

About the methodology

This research was conducted with Mindshare’s ‘Precisely Human Intelligence’ approach that combines empathy and precision through a deeper understanding of human identity connected to first party data. The data used was from a bespoke audio streaming study, a recontact survey from Choreographs WPP’s Audience Origin data – covering audio behaviour, consumers identity, lifestyle and media consumption.

The collaboration with Spotify provided access to its first-party data from users’ streaming behaviours that go beyond demographics revealing moods, mindsets and moments, across a variety of content, contexts, and devices.

This research looked at the behaviour of 1,081 Spotify Free Subscription Audio Streamers from key audiences, including: Men (18+ years old), Women (18+ years old), Gen Z (18–24 years old), Millennials (25–44 years old) and Parents (18+ years old) in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.