International marketing

Spotify's Model: Localizing for User Belonging

Spotify's Model: Localizing for User Belonging
Rayne Aguilar
Written by
Rayne Aguilar
Rayne Aguilar
Written by
Rayne Aguilar
Elizabeth Pokorny
Elizabeth Pokorny
Rayne Aguilar
Reviewed by
Elizabeth Pokorny
Updated on
June 13, 2024

Spotify is the global leader in music streaming, thanks to a vast song library and excellent localization strategy. The platform has made its mark in 180 markets, attracting 615 million users.

Spotify's success shows the power of communicating with your audience – literally, culturally, and emotionally. The brand’s approach sets new standards for global reach, but how did Spotify achieve this, and can it be replicated?

The challenge lies in localizing content to meet the tastes and cultural preferences of users across regions. It’s a complex process requiring careful planning, language experts, and software solutions.

In this article, we’ll provide insights into Spotify’s localization, uncovering the strategies that connect with global users. You’ll discover how similar approaches, supported by tools like Weglot, can boost brand expansion without technical know-how.

How Does Localization Impact User Belonging?

Users are more likely to engage with a platform that 'speaks their language', both linguistically and culturally. As a result, localization can increase conversion rates and loyalty.

Before being acquired by Incubeta, paid search agency Net Media Planet used localization to grow client conversion rates. During a presentation at the Going Global event, Managing Director Sri Sharma detailed the difference localization made. Their clients witnessed a 20% increase in conversions when landing pages and ads were translated into the local language. This rose to a staggering 70% when their websites were fully localized.

Localization goes far beyond mere translation. Reflecting cultural nuances and audience preferences creates meaningful relationships between users and businesses. Customers feel their needs are being catered for, creating an emotional connection with a brand. You can find some impressive case studies on our localization examples blog.

Spotify's Localization Strategy

Spotify app

Spotify's approach to localization has been a fundamental part of its strategy to increase user acquisition and retention globally.

In 2021, the music streaming giant almost doubled its global reach within a year, thanks to an extensive localization campaign. From February to November 2021, Spotify expanded into 80 new markets and incorporated 36 additional languages into its platform. This leap made Spotify accessible to a broader audience and demonstrated its commitment to providing a culturally relevant user experience.

The impact of this strategy on Spotify's financial performance was significant. Revenue increased from €2147 million in the first quarter to €2501 million ($2751 million USD) by the third quarter – a 16.5% rise.

Spotify’s strategy relies on the following steps:

  • Language accessibility: Offering content in users' preferred languages to open the platform up to global markets.
  • Cultural sensitivity: Adopting cultural nuances across all written materials so users feel heard and understood, inspiring a sense of community.
  • User experience: Curating content that reflects local tastes and trends.

Spotify’s ‘Understand It’, ‘Think It’, and ‘Build It’ Phases

Careful planning and execution are central to the platform’s international success. Spotify’s product localization process can be broken down into three important stages:

  1. Understand It: Conducting in-depth market research to grasp cultural nuances, music preferences, and listening habits of users in different regions.
  2. Think It: Implementing the insights gained from market research, including decisions on content curation, feature adaptation, and user interface design.
  3. Build It: Developing and deploying localized features, content, and marketing to meet local audience needs.
3 Stages of Spotify’s Localization Process

Strategies Employed by Spotify for Effective Localization

Spotify’s localization inspires a sense of belonging in its users. Let’s explore the key steps within their strategy:

Language Translation

Language translation is the first step in creating an excellent user experience for an international audience. Following its expansion in 2021, Spotify added 11 more languages in 2022, bringing the total to 74. More languages enabled more users to enjoy the platform’s music. Revenue rose to 11.7 billion ($12.4 billion USD) – up 21% from the previous year.

One particular part of Spotifiy’s localization efforts includes its podcast platform, which has been translated using the Weglot plugin. Integrating with Weglot enabled swift translation and localization of web content across multiple languages. It’s also a tool that any brand can benefit from.

The plugin can translate entire websites in a single click. Whenever new content is uploaded to a brand’s core site, a continuous translation feature ensures that multilingual content is also updated.

Try Weglot’s 10-day free trial, or take a look at our product tour.

Weglot's homepage

Native Language and Cultural Sensitivity

Using native languages and scripts ensures a personalized interface for international users. For example, presenting the language as ‘Français’ instead of ‘French’. Spotify’s attention to cultural preferences improves user engagement and helps build loyalty among its listeners. Weglot supports this process by providing contextual translations and allowing for post-translation editing, ensuring content remains culturally relevant.

Spotify's Think Global, Act Local approach involves having a Global Insights team, which integrates local knowledge into its service offering. This team brings together experts from around the world, tasked with improving the brand’s localization.

For example, when Spotify launched in Thailand, it partnered with Andovar, a South East Asian company specializing in UI localization, demonstrating its commitment to ensuring a great user experience in all markets.

Andovar homepage

Plugins like Weglot enable global teams to work together. Integrating with Content Management Systems (CMS) allows multi-partner projects to be managed from a single platform.

Style, Formatting, and Tone of Voice

Beyond words and phrases, style, formatting, and tone of voice are all tailored by Spotify to match the needs of local audiences.

For example, research showed that Japanese listeners preferred a more educational tone of voice, whereas Spotify’s Indian audience responded more to playful and humorous tones. Such attention to detail makes the content feel more authentic and relatable.

Weglot's platform helps Spotify maintain consistency in style and tone across different languages. Translations can be manually revised to align with the desired style and tone, better meeting the needs of local users. A translation memory stores preferred terms, ensuring tonal uniformity across multilingual websites.

Rather than shortening the translations to fit the available space, Spotify ensures its design is flexible enough to accommodate longer translations. Some languages expand up to 35% when translated from English, so formatting is key. Weglot’s Visual Editor enables translators to work on-page and test out different layouts to ensure translated designs have maximum impact.

Weglot Visual Editor

Localized Artists and Playlists

Spotify curates localized content in each of its global destinations. By focusing on local artists and playlists, the platform can mirror regional musical tastes and trends.

This strategy increases the likelihood of local users discovering Spotify through search engines. Local users may look for information on their favorite musicians and discover the platform as a result. Regional artists and playlists also reflect a country's unique musical heritage, tapping into feelings of national pride and shared identity.

For example, when Spotify launched in India in February 2019, it localized its content to suit the Indian market. By offering streams in multiple local languages and playlists curated by regional experts, the platform attracted one million users in the first week.

Although the top-streamed songs in that week were international, the most-searched artists were Indian, indicating the importance of using local knowledge. By tailoring its offerings to include local languages and artists, Spotify was able to triple its Indian user base in just two years.

In countries with multiple languages, Weglot's visitor auto-redirection meets local preferences without inconveniencing the user. The feature lets you deliver pages in a user’s preferred language based on their browser settings.

Design and Visuals

Spotify tailors its visual style to match different cultural preferences. Graphic elements reflect local traditions, specific symbols, colors, themes, and important dates in the calendar. For example, every year the platform compiles a Summer Hits playlist. Rather than choose an image that might not resonate with everyone, e.g., a beach, they display an object, in this case, a citrus drink that isn’t culturally specific so everyone can relate to it:

Spotify Summer Hits 2019 localized in the USA, Sweden, Finland, and Taiwan

However, when designing playlists across a more diverse range of countries, Spotify uses local models and tweaks designs to ensure acceptability:

Spotify Happy Hits playlist in different countries USA, India, Taiwan, Turkey

Through these efforts, we strive to help people feel not just included, but like they can actually see themselves in their Spotify experience. By localizing images, we can help people feel that they belong.”

Nora Ahlenius, Spotify Design Manager

Visual localization helps to create a familiar and welcoming environment for users. Weglot's platform integrates with website design tools to ensure visual elements support localized text. The plugin supports complete image localization using its built-in image language translator. The visual editor lets you translate your content directly inside your website design, making translation easy for media files.

Hyper-Localized Advertising

Hyper-localized advertising allows Spotify to connect with users on a more personal level.

As we’ve seen, the platform provides personalized recommendations based on users' listening habits, preferences, and location. Further initiatives complement this approach, such as the hugely successful Spotify Wrapped campaign, launched in 2016 and still viral today.

Spotify Wrapped 2016 sample playlist

Spotify Wrapped sends every subscriber an email with a personal recap of their listening habits over the past 12 months. In its first year, over 30 million emails were opened – a 30% open rate. Users were encouraged to share their listening statistics on social media, increasing the brand’s visibility and app store ranking.

Alongside this, Spotify launched their Thanks, 2016. It's been weird campaign. The brand generated a connection with audiences by displaying data-driven quotes from Spotify Wrapped through ads and social media. Ads were location-specific to address local audiences and reflect music trends.

Sample billboard from Spotify’s ‘Thanks, 2016. It’s been weird’ ad campaign

YouGov research found that billboard exposure increased Spotify’s Ad Awareness score by five points in its first two months. Furthermore, the campaign was shared on social media over 669,000 times. Highly localized campaigns like this can generate a strong user connection, increasing engagement and promoting a sense of belonging.

Incorporate Spotify's Localization Strategies into Your Platform with Weglot

Spotify's excellent localization focuses on creating a personalized experience that fosters a sense of belonging to users worldwide. By using quality translations, cultural nuances, design preferences, and inspired marketing, the platform has tapped into a diverse range of markets.

Weglot, a leader in web translation, enables any brand to adopt Spotify's effective localization strategies:

  • A no-code install provides an easy-to-use platform for non-technical users.
  • The process is simplified with automatic content detection and translation across multiple languages.
  • Post-translation editing tools like the Visual Editor allow translations to be fine-tuned, ensuring high-quality content.
  • Compatibility with all website builder platforms and custom sites allows for simple integration and scalability.

The interface is intuitive and user-friendly, allowing you to manage and translate content with ease. The tool's effectiveness is remarkable, offering accurate and consistent translations in multiple languages. Furthermore, the implementation speed is impressive.

Pablo S, Business Owner

Spotify's approach is no secret! Any brand can make an impact overseas by replicating the strategies featured in this article and using the right tools.

Start your localization journey and connect with a global audience with Weglot’s 10-day free trial.

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