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Gen Z’s Favorite Holiday Gift: Spotify Wrapped

Written by Sarah Sheerer, Jasmine Lubin, Kara Guillaume, Aedyn Gorenberg, and Sammie Green, Illustration by Olivia Burgess

In a year that has taken so much from us, Spotify is the gift that keeps on giving. Let’s unwrap everyone’s favorite end-of-year present: Spotify Wrapped. 

Why does Spotify Wrapped resonate so well with Gen Z? It’s not just Wrapped, everything the brand does is built around creating an intentional connection with listeners. Every user feels valued because all of Spotify’s content is genuine and personalized for the individual. In fact, some think that Spotify’s personalization is sorcery – “HOW DOES SPOTIFY WRAPPED KNOW WHAT SONG GOT ME THROUGH IT ALL???” It may seem like sorcery, but it’s a deliberate effort to go beyond building a product to truly developing a relationship with us.

Getting to Know You

When was the last time you got in the car and turned on the radio instead of plugging in the aux cord? Streaming services are at the center of just about everything Gen Z does, especially in a time where many feel like music is the only constant in an ever-changing world. Spotify knows and embraces that Gen Z loves two things: personalization and control. 

Spotify has a unique way of building personal relationships with its users. It pays attention to the music we like to listen to and uses this information to create personalized playlists such as the “Daily Mix” and “Release Radar.” The brand is intentional about creating a tailored streaming experience and making listeners feel valued. 

This year, Spotify celebrated the fans, rewarding artists’ most dedicated fans with listening badges. These superfans wore the listening badges with pride, showing them off to their social media followers. While we listen, we develop connections to specific artists, genres and songs that keep us continuously coming back for more. Taylor Swift broke the world record for most streams in 24 hours on both Spotify and Apple Music when she dropped Folklore this summer. On that same day, One Direction’s (Haylor, wya?) 10-year anniversary almost broke the internet. 

Gen Z is known as a tough audience to please, and it may take a lot to gain our trust. But, Spotify recognizes that once an artist has earned our loyalty, we’ll be their most dedicated fans.

Expressing Yourself

Spotify gives us control over creating playlists for our various moods. Walking your dog? There’s a playlist for that. Just broke up with your significant other? Add “Before He Cheats” to your queue and belt it (Disclaimer: we do not recommend performing any of the actions listed in this song). 

Not to get emotional… but Spotify this year made us feel some type of way. Spotify Wrapped gives listeners a chance to express themselves and the music that got them through the year. After a challenging 2020, Spotify complimented users, telling them, “You’re a good listener. Feel free to show this to your exes.” This year especially, Wrapped made it seem like Spotify knows more about us than we do. Our streaming data can shape how we view ourselves and others, because music streaming habits are personal and can serve as a major source of individuality for Gen Z. As our lives changed this year, our tastes in music changed, and Spotify Wrapped gave us a unique way to share this with the world.

Spotify earned Gen Z’s trust by connecting us with the music we love and helping us explore with personalized recommendations. This helps the brand build a meaningful relationship with Gen Z. Spotify Wrapped is just the icing on the cake — one act of kindness that is part of a stronger relationship.

More Than Music

Who was by your side this year? Spotify brought listeners a special kind of joy during a very challenging time by connecting them with their favorite music and taking the extra step to create a community. 

According to Spotify’s Culture Next 2020, “70% of U.S. Zs and Millennials said it’s easier to feel connected to a community today thanks to digital platforms.” Spotify is so popular for this reason —  it creates a community that validates and empowers followers to be their authentic selves. Spotify creates a space for listeners to bond over shared music with its collaborative playlists, and it also allows listeners to express themselves by sharing what music they are listening to with their friends. This community expands beyond the app to other social platforms every year when users share their Spotify Wrapped streaming data.

Creating a community is just one way Spotify is there to support our journey and be a part of our lives. When the world changed for so many this year, Spotify didn’t miss a beat. They were there to support us with playlists to get us through quarantine. Spotify’s Newsroom reported a 1,400% streaming increase in work-from-home-related playlists from April 17, 2020, to May 17, 2020 – peak quarantine time. Our music is personalized to the way we feel at any given moment and provides the emotional validation that we all crave. 

Gen Z individuals are unafraid to go against social norms by making waves in politics, music, and countless other industries. 2020 showed the world how passionate and forward-thinking Gen Z is when it comes to reshaping and rebuilding society. Spotify encouraged this by promoting Black, Asian and Latin artists and by commemorating “the songs that soundtracked the movement” of social activism this year. In fact, the app offers a new category called “Black History Is Now,” dedicated solely to Black History content, including the playlist “Black Lives Matter,” which had over 64 million streams in 2020. Spotify makes it a point to make every listener feel respected and seen by uplifting the voices that may not always be heard. 

Final Thoughts

Spotify was there for its listeners every step of the way this year, from the challenges of quarantine to the joy of the holidays. We remained loyal to those we love in 2020 for comfort in a time of uncertainty. We discovered new artists to create a sense of virtual community through the isolation that so many of us felt this year. At the end of the day, you may pretend like 2020 never happened, but you’ll never be able to erase the 150 hours you spent listening to the Glee soundtrack.

Published by Daniel Abood, Research Manager, The Agency