Spotify Wrapped: Achieving Success Through Personalization and Innovation
Dr. Dustin York

Think back to Dec. 2022: the holiday season was underway, spirits were high, and Spotify Wrapped was making its annual appearance on timelines and stories everywhere. This treasured campaign has become its own end-of-year tradition in the seven years since it launched. The initiative has even inspired other platforms to get in on the action, with YouTube, Google, Etsy, and others starting year-in-review lookbacks, but none have reached the level of adoration that Spotify has achieved. So, what makes Spotify Wrapped such a successful marketing tool, and how can its popularity be replicated?

Start with personalization; it’s what Spotify does best. Many millennials and Gen Zers understand data privacy no longer exists—but if their information is going to be used, they expect their online experiences to be tailored to their wants and needs. On a daily basis, Spotify offers customized playlists and song recommendations to its more than 400 million listeners by predicting content that satisfies current moods and what a user will want to hear in the future. A new feature within 2022’s Spotify Wrapped introduced listeners to “Your Listening Personality,” giving each person individualized insight into their musical tastes using four metrics: Familiarity vs. Exploration, Loyalty vs. Variety, Timelessness vs. Newness, and Commonality vs. Uniqueness. These distinctive personalities highlight Spotify’s data-driven listening experience and entice users to share their individuality outside the streaming giant.

Spotify Wrapped and Your Listening Personality offer the serotonin boost we all seek, fulfilling our desire to be recognized and included. They encourage us to share our positive experience with the world by making us feel special—and while we post about the artists that we listen to most, Spotify enjoys a boost with free advertising. Consumers who fear missing out are captivated and compelled to learn more about the streaming platform, similar to when LinkedIn rolled out the most viewed profile awards in its early years. Individuals proud of their accomplishment shared these digital certificates to other social media platforms, sparking curiosity among people unfamiliar with the professional networking website. Like LinkedIn before them, Spotify need only include its logo to encourage these intrigued prospective customers to hunt down their own results or sign up to be a part of the excitement next year.

As other platforms often get cozy with complacency, Spotify does the opposite: it innovates. The company stays on trend and top-of-mind by continuously transforming and integrating its product—as it did with 2022’s Wrapped-themed apparel for Bitmoji and personalized Snapchat lenses that reflected fans’ listening personalities. If you’re familiar with Roblox and the metaverse world, you may know Spotify debuted Spotify Island in May 2022, where players can meet favorite artists, unlock exclusive content, and more. In December, the island was taken over by WonderWrapped—Wrapped-inspired quests, games, virtual merchandise, and photo booth opportunities with musical artists like Calvin Harris, Miranda Lambert, and Tove Lo.

By staking an early claim in this expanding digital landscape, Spotify is planting the seed for future generations to use its service. Generation Alpha and the tail end of Gen Z will remember their unique virtual experience with the streaming platform and pursue a relationship for their music needs as a teenager and beyond. While a move like this won’t pay off immediately, preparing for the inevitable evolution of media is a risk worth taking for any future-minded innovator.

Dr. Dustin York is an associate professor of communication at Maryville University.”