Think about the last thing you bought. Was it an impulse purchase? A product you pondered for weeks? Perhaps a subscription that piqued your interest?
What made you pick up that particular product or select that specific service? Maybe you'd heard good things about it from a trusted friend. Maybe the packaging or branding struck a chord. Or maybe it was simply a "right place, right time" moment.
There are myriad factors that go into buying decisions. The path to purchase is rarely linear, and for advertisers, mapping it out can feel like a maddening maze.
But new research by Spotify Advertising suggests that digital audio can play a pivotal role at every stage of the journey. The Consumer Decision Journey report, which surveyed nearly 20,000 audio listeners between the ages of 18 and 65 across countries and buying categories, found that 71% of people think Spotify aids in their purchase journey—and that digital audio is more influential than print, online videos, and social media ads.1 What's more, half of the respondents also said that Spotify is great at introducing them to new brands.2
Here's a closer look at the report's findings and key takeaways.
Spotify: The background track to listeners' lives
Spotify is a constant presence in listeners' lives, accompanying them wherever they go. After all, people turn to music and podcasts during their more focused moments (studying, working, or exercising) as well as their more "dreamlike" moments (commuting, lounging around the living room, or cooking).
Ads on Spotify are also tailored to people's needs and experiences, speaking to them on a personalized platform where they already enjoy custom-made playlists and podcast favorites. According to the report, 80% of people have positive feelings about Spotify ads3 and 50% say that ads on the platform really catch their attention.4
Furthermore, Spotify appeals to listeners across an incredibly wide range of lifestyles and interests. The Consumer Decision Journey report specifically focused on audio listeners who had made a "reasonably recent" purchase in one of the following categories: Food & Drink, Personal Care & Wellness, Beauty, Fashion, Tech, and Auto.5
Spotify aids listeners at all 5 stages of the consumer decision journey
One crucial finding from the report illustrates just how challenging it can be for advertisers to stand out among the crowd: Even at the buying stage, 65% of digital audio listeners are still deciding between multiple brands.6
But by being present throughout every stage of the path to purchase, advertisers can speak to customers' changing needs—and help them feel confident in their choices.
Here's an in-depth look at each stage of the decision journey.
Stage 1: Be
When consumers are going about their everyday life, before the trigger for a purchase.
In this initial stage, people are looking to encounter new products or get inspired by new ideas. In fact, this is when 33% of listeners first consider the brand they ultimately purchase from.7
65% say Spotify meets their key needs at the BE stage.8
Brands can use ads on Spotify to reach people during aligned "day in the life" listening moments, like when they're shopping, eating, or playing video games. They can engage audiences with these reliable ad formats:
- Ads on Spotify during music: 2.6X higher than the media touchpoint average9
- Display ads on Spotify: 2X the media touchpoint average10
Stage 2: Dream
Exploring and gathering information around the different options that are out there.
At the "Dream" stage, a potential customer is continuing to explore and gather information about different options. They're still open to learning about new products and becoming more familiar with brands they've already encountered.
Interestingly, this is also the stage when buyer confidence tends to take a dip. When respondents were asked, "How certain are you that you'll get the right product for you?" at various stages of the buying journey, the "Dream" stage had the lowest averages across all categories. Just 31% of respondents said they're "very certain" at this stage, down from 39% at "Be."11
66% say Spotify meets their key needs at the DREAM stage.12
Spotify ads provide a strong source of inspiration during this stage, helping listeners discover more about the products that match their interests—and find clarity about what options might best meet their needs. Key moments of this stage might include when listeners are at home with their family or partner, or with friends at a party.
Advertisers can begin to build familiarity with these formats:
- Ads on Spotify during music: 2.6X the media touchpoint average13
- Display ads on Spotify: 2X the media touchpoint average14
Stage 3: Choose
Actually making a choice on a brand, product, or item that they want to purchase.
By the third stage of the purchase journey, a customer is ready to decide on a brand or product. Even though they're about to make a choice, they're still open to being inspired by something new or learning more about a brand they're already familiar with. The study found that 22% of listeners first consider the brand they ultimately buy from during this stage.15
65% say Spotify meets their key needs at the CHOOSE stage.16
Advertisers can use Spotify ads to help give people a confidence boost about the products or services they intend to buy. This is especially important for buying categories with long consideration periods like Tech and Auto. With Spotify, brands can engage listeners one-on-one while they're out and about walking or driving, or when they're getting ready at home. They might try fueling consideration using these formats:
- Podcast ads on Spotify that play during podcasts: 1.8X the media touchpoint average17
- Podcast ads on Spotify delivered by the podcast host: 2.1X the media touchpoint average18
Stage 4: Buy
The more functional stage, making the purchase.
This is the stage when a potential buyer is ready to follow through on their decision and make a purchase. It's also the phase when they may be searching for additional information about the logistics of buying the product (where, how, etc.).
65% say Spotify meets their key needs at the BUY stage.19
Spotify plays an important role in helping listeners locate their chosen brand and complete their purchase journey. Brands can use Spotify to help make that ultimate sale by reaching listeners whenever and wherever they may be—especially in key moments like when they're hanging out with family members, getting ready for the day, or playing games. They can aid in the buying process by launching:
- Ads on Spotify during music: 2.7X the media touchpoint average20
Stage 5: Use
The final stage is post-purchase of a product or service—use and experience.
The customer journey doesn't end at checkout—brands and advertisers can still keep engaging with listeners post-purchase to build relationships, drive further sales, and deliver personalized experiences.
64% say Spotify meets their key needs at the USE stage.21
Brands can use Spotify ads to continuously reach their customers and try to build strong connections over time. These formats in particular can help keep customers engaged even after they make a purchase:
- Ads on Spotify during music: 2.7X the media touchpoint average22
- Podcast ads on Spotify that play during podcasts: 2.1X the media touchpoint average23
Spotify provides brands with an opportunity to align with the key moments that matter in listeners' lives. For instance: Music serves as a daily shopping companion, with over two-thirds of listeners tuned into Spotify to enhance their shopping experience—and digital audio ads can even spark gift ideas.24 At home, Cooking, Housework, and Beauty playlist listeners are 20 percentage points more likely than the average consumer to shop at big box, grocery, and department stores.25
Regardless of where a listener is in their journey—or the goal of a marketing campaign—Spotify is an intimate way to reach audiences with messages likely to resonate and drive measurable results every step of the way.
Ready to learn more about how Spotify impacts the path to purchase? Download our full infographic.
SOURCES: 1-4 : Consumer Decision Journey Report, Spotify 1P Data. June 2023. Base: 11,145 Spotify users (both free and premium users). Adults 18-65 who have made a recent purchase in a relevant category( Food & Drink, Personal Care, Beauty, Fashion, Technology, Auto) in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, US. "Media touchpoint average" is based on the following media types: TV, print, social, and radio.
5: How recently a purchase was made varies by vertical: Food & Drink, Personal Care & Wellbeing, Beauty = within 30 days; Fashion, Tech = within 3 months; Automotive = within 12 months
6-23: 1-4 : Consumer Decision Journey Report, Spotify 1P Data. June 2023. Base: 11,145 Spotify users (both free and premium users). Adults 18-65 who have made a recent purchase in a relevant category( Food & Drink, Personal Care, Beauty, Fashion, Technology, Auto) in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, US. "Media touchpoint average" is based on the following media types: TV, print, social, and radio.
24, 25: Spotify Internal Data, US, Spotify Free Users, moment=holidays, Nov-Dec 2022 vs Nov-Dec 2021 Source: Spotify + Foursquare Contextual Listeners Analysis, Sept 2020 - Sep 2021, US