Jan 26, 2021
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Global shoppers prefer real consumer photos, not brand shots - study

Jan 26, 2021

Retailers and brands have been including a lot more photos from real people on their social channels and websites in recent periods and it seems that this is a good move as a new study shows that shoppers like this.

User-generated content is hugely important for consumers before they buy - Photo Sound On from Pexels

Research from Bazaarvoice showed two-thirds of shoppers prefer real customer photos of brands on social media and on webstores over professional shots.

Given that 51% of global consumers agree social media influences purchases, and 65% find the availability of previous customer photos on social media and websites essential in their purchase decision, that’s a key trend to take note of.

In its A picture’s worth a thousand purchases report, the product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions specialist said “visual and social user generated content is driving online retail purchases” across various product sectors. 

It also said that in addition to social media, 74% of consumers prefer to see previous customers’ photos and videos on brand and retailer websites, rather than professionally shot images. 

How reliable are those numbers? Well, the company spoke to more than 8,000 consumers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, UK and US, so it’s a pretty strong sample base.

It also found that 62% of consumers are more likely to buy if they can view both photo and video content from previous customers, which is a step that many retailers and brands haven’t yet taken.

The company thinks this is all about shoppers reacting to relatable voices” that help them to trust a brand more. “The more realistic and authentic audiences feel the review content is, the more confident they become when deciding to make a purchase,” it said.

This builds on research conducted widely in recent years that shows reviews are trusted purchase-drivers, but takes it further into the visual sphere, which makes sense when it comes to a wide range of products from electronics to fashion and beauty.    

The study added that Facebook is also the most popular destination when it comes to influencing purchases (25%) and the most likely social platform on which consumers purchase a product (26%). 

But when it comes to 18-34 year-olds, Instagram is the most popular destination, with 31% using it as their main source of inspiration and 27% saying it’s the most likely place for them to buy.

Those younger shoppers “demonstrate a particularly strong preference for visual UGC on social media”. Some 73% of 18-34 year-olds prefer brands to use visual UGC for social media outreach compared to an average of 64% across other age groups.

Meanwhile, it seems shoppable images and videos are the type of content most likely to influence buying choices on social media (19%), ahead of video advertising (14%) and posts from followed brands (13%), “suggesting rich content and the ease of buying on-platform are now critical in the customer journey”.

And many respondents said they want to see new visual UGC content from brands on social media more frequently than they do on websites – almost half (47%) of consumers want to see new UGC content on social media at least two or three times a week, with 10% of those expecting updates multiple times a day.

This is all about helping consumers assess quality and the accuracy of the description before buying. And 21% of consumers say a quality review is judged to be one that includes photos and videos as well as text.

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