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A car for every life stage: How brands can connect with Spotify listeners when it matters

The automotive industry is in the midst of a great disruption. All aspects of the long-established business model are facing major shake-ups: the shift from internal combustion engines to electric, software-enabled vehicles, for instance, and the digitalization of the retail experience driven by rapidly evolving consumer preferences. It’s a historical reflection point for the 100+ year-old industry that will leave it looking vastly different from what we know today.

While the industry is undergoing intensive change, one thing hasn’t wavered: the reasons why consumers buy vehicles. Whether for a first job, a newborn baby, or to celebrate a passed driving test, purchasing a car is almost always driven by a definitive moment in life. And as consumers move from one such life stage to another, their streaming habits evolve—giving automotive brands a key insight into their automotive needs.

Generations change, life stages don’t

Sure, it wasn’t that long ago experts were predicting that Millennials would become the first generation with lower generational wealth than previous generations. Experts also predicted that they would largely spurn homeownership1, and favor rideshare over car ownership2. But as the oldest millennials enter their early 40s, they’ve surpassed Baby Boomers to become the largest adult generation. In fact, Millennials account for more than half of all home-purchase loan applications in 2021 in the U.S., and they are the auto industry’s single largest audience segment.3

And guess what? Millennials’ life stages consist of the same predictable benchmarks and transitional moments—think college graduation, first job, marriage, moving to the suburbs, becoming a parent, and so on—that auto brands have built their marketing strategies around for past generations.

That pattern looks set to continue for Gen Z, as they take their first steps into adulthood and begin thinking about buying their first car. In fact, many of them already have!

The Audio Generation

One thing is certain: traditional marketing, from print to broadcast, is no longer a shoo-in for reaching and attracting future generations of car purchasers. eMarketer indicates that audio listening is the #1 activity on mobile phones—beating video, social apps, and internet access to the top spot. New studies find that Millennials are the biggest consumers of audio, listening to more content than all other generations—more types, more often, and in more places.4

And Gen Z, whose oldest members are graduating from college and starting their own careers and families (another life stage aligned with car buying) are following suit.

This is where Spotify comes in.

In the US, more than half of all Millennial internet users are on Spotify.5 Globally, Millennials account for 25% and Gen Z 34% of our ad-supported listeners.6 These listeners are streaming 2+ hours per day, across devices where the auto-buying journey is taking place.7

As listeners navigate through different life stages, their streaming habits evolve

At Spotify, we see how streaming habits continue to evolve as listeners navigate through important milestones:

  • Teens are beginning to find their own sound and Spotify holds their attention in a world full of distractions.

  • Recent graduates are embarking on their journey of self-discovery and lean on motivational music to enter the workforce.

  • Listeners entering adulthood may curate the perfect wedding playlist or rock out while working on renovations for their new home.

  • New parents have to make way for someone else—cue lullabies, kids music and chill tunes at bedtime.

  • Parenting pros search for the perfect playlist that the whole family can enjoy whether at home, commuting, or on the road.

  • Free of dependence, empty nesters are tuning into oldies toㅤremember the good old days, and are leaning on audio content to learn new things.

Auto brands have the unique opportunity to utilize digital audio as a way to enhance each listener's unique streaming experience, aligned to their life stage. For example, the “New Parent” life stage is key for most auto brands wanting to promote newer models of crossovers and SUVs. Our streaming intelligence reveals that new parents are more likely to listen to the ‘Atmospheric’ music genre.8 An auto brand could leverage this insight with a targeted automotive marketing campaign that reaches parents listening to mellow music at bedtime, and digital audio creative that simulates the relaxing sounds of a car ride—the ultimate hack to get a baby to fall asleep.

Spotify reaches every generation of listeners and adapts to their changing moods, mindsets, and motivations. How listeners stream on Spotify reveals a lot about their journey in the moment, and—ultimately—in life.

Find out which life stage your streaming habits suggest you’re at, and learn more about how to connect with listeners, right here.

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Sources: 1 Urban Institute, The state of millennial homeownership, July 2018 2 Millennials & Driving: A Survey Commissioned by Zipcar, December 2011
3 Core Logic, Millennial Homebuyers Dominate in High-Tech and Midwest Metros, 2021
4 eMarketer, How mobile users spend their time on their smartphones in 2022 5 Comscore Media Metrix, Desktop 2+ and Total Mobile 13+, Market=US, Age=25-44, March 2021
6 Spotify Internal Data, MAU Trend by Demo, 2022
7 Spotify Internal Data, 2022
8 Spotify Internal Data, 2021, New Parents / Baby Product Shoppers

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