How Spotify will use marketing and communication to bring in its next phase of growth in India
Neha Ahuja, Head of Marketing - India, SpotifySpotify
Neha Ahuja, Head of Marketing - India, Spotify walks us through some milestones

How Spotify will use marketing and communication to bring in its next phase of growth in India

Neha Ahuja, Head of Marketing - India, Spotify walks us through some milestones
  • As Spotify recently completed two years in India, we caught up with Neha Ahuja, Head of Marketing - India, Spotify who walked us through Spotify's India story so far.
  • She spoke to us about the factors that have led to its growth and what it plans to do to sustain this growth.

It’s been 2 years since Swedish streaming platform Spotify launched in India and in these two years, the platform has had quite a few milestones. Since its launch, its brand popularity has increased 3X, Spotify recently share and the way it has marketed itself in the country has a lot to do with this reception.

Since the beginning Spotify has focused on localization. While it has the benefit of sound algorithms that make their playlists very personalized, based on what the listener listens to, it has also made sure its communication, both in terms of its campaigns, or the way it makes use of artists to communicate with fans, is relatable.

We spoke to Neha Ahuja, Head of Marketing - India, Spotify to discuss with her the things she feels worked in the platform’s favor in India, and a few things they plan to do, to capture a wider audience here.

India and the importance of localization

Spotify launched officially in India in February 2019 and from the very start, its focus was on localization. The platform launched at a time when people were slowly getting used to the idea of streaming music online.

While a lot of the younger population knew about the platform, the task at hand was to bring in new users to sample Spotify and to stick to it.

“While there were people who knew about us, there was also a huge audience that did not, they weren’t even streaming music online yet. And what led us to reach a destination that we're very proud of today is that we were able to talk to each of these cohorts in the manner they would have liked to be spoken to. So for people who were still new to streaming, we played to the category codes. We told them what is streaming on Spotify, introduced them to our vast library and let them know about how convenient the platform was to use. At the same time, for people who knew about Spotify, we played up on the differentiation factor. We told them about our playlists, we leveraged fandom. We understood that different people have different music needs and that’s how we streamlined our communication,” explained Ahuja.

It made sure it tailor-made its campaigns based on the geographies it was targeting. So while it featured Anil Kapoor to target the Hindi-speaking markets, it roped in South star Nagarjuna to target the southern markets.

The impact of 2020 on Spotify

While the year 2020 was difficult for most businesses, music streaming was one of the lesser affected categories. People were stuck at home and looking for entertainment and music came to the rescue.

Ahuja agreed too. “We were one of the few lucky industries. I wouldn't say it was a bad year for us but we did see a shift in the daily routines. The consumption patterns changed. Before, people would listen to us while working out in the gym or while travelling to and from work. With the lockdown, the consumption was a little more spread through the day. There wasn’t a stark difference between weekdays and weekends,” she explained.

There was also a shift in the devices being used to stream the music. There was a move from smartphones to speakers, laptops or even tablets. “We saw a 55% increase in people listening to Spotify on their tablets, and a 37% increase in people streaming on their desktops between April and June 2020,” she added.

Spotify’s India story

The platform also witnessed steady growth through the year. In a recent letter to shareholders, Spotify had said it continued to see healthy double digit Y/Y growth across all regions. “For the full year, net additions accelerated to a record 74 million compared to 2019 net additions of 64 million. In Q4, we added 25 million MAUs and benefited from faster growth in India, US, and Western Europe, with India serving as a notable source of upside vs. our forecast driven by successful marketing campaigns.”

Another strategy that has worked for them in India is introducing different subscription packs for different sets of audiences. “Three things have worked in our favor when it comes to our premium offering. Firstly, there’s a product market fit. The app experience, the catalog, the personalization is great which helps in making sure that people do upgrade. Secondly, in terms of pricing, India is a unique market. We are the only country in the Spotify world to have over 15 plans. Whether its an annual plan, mini plan, a weekly or a daily plan, we have it all. And thirdly, we have a dedicated communication strategy for moving the consumer up the funnel, from a free to a premium experience, clearly calling out the benefits being very relevant, but also playing up the price points, which helped bring many people to the subscription side,” shared Ahuja.

Spotify is also making sure it is able to give effective advertising solutions to brands, it has worked with over 100 brands in the past two years. It is also trying to expand its reach by partnering with different brands like Flipkart, Citibank etc.

The future

On what has Spotify’s USP in India been, Ahuja said, “It's not just about music streaming. It is also about how we position music streaming differently. When we came to India, we spoke about the category, but also about how you should consume music. It wasn’t about listening to a song or track, it was about streaming a playlist. Playlists is not unique to Spotify but we do own that experience now. What we are trying to do now, both in India and globally, is to talk about Spotify as a destination for everything audio. Now, it is not just about music, we also have podcasts. And that's what we we play up. We talk about music, but also about podcasts and our exclusives that are available only on our app. We are also bringing a lot of global exclusives to India which is a great experience for users. So we ensure there is something for everybody on the platform.”

On what her focus areas as a marketer are going to be in the year ahead, she said, “One is to educate people on this music streaming behavior, two, to drive a love for audio, more and more people should consume more music and podcasts. So that's the intent. And thirdly, we want to leverage advocacy-both consumer and artist – where I use my current users to bring in more users along with the fandom of an artist to bring in more users.”