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User-generated visual content can influence purchases

Reviews have always been a key aspect of a consumer’s shopping journey. But nowadays—particularly as more consumers lean on ecommerce—additional information in the form of user-generated visuals is becoming just as critical.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US said they were more likely to buy a product if they were able to view customer photos and videos, according to a December 2020 survey from Bazaarvoice conducted by Savanta. Why they look for this additional visual content is pretty straightforward: Shoppers are able to get a more comprehensive look at a product before they buy it—something they’re not able to get with just text and product descriptions. Roughly a quarter (24%) of respondents said the extra information may highlight something that wasn’t obvious, while nearly as many (21%) said they like to see a product in action before ultimately making a purchase. The ability to better see a product's quality, fit, and material were other factors in play.

Not surprisingly, user-generated content (UGC) is strongly influencing purchases via social media, particularly on Facebook. The same Bazaarvoice/Savanta survey found that 26.4% of respondents said Facebook was a popular destination for them to make purchases based on UGC, while slightly fewer (25.3%) said UGC on the platform influences their buying decisions.

Instagram and YouTube were also social platforms that many respondents said they use for both influence and to make purchases, with YouTube in particular being nearly as popular a destination for influence as Facebook.

Overall, we expect there will be a big pivot to more UGC this year. According to Jeremy Goldman, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, it’s because “consumers are less trusting of the mainstream media and slick corporate marketing, turning instead to user-generated content and influencers to find their own truth.”

Brands should take note of this. “Influencer- and user-generated content is cheap, easy, and quick to create—and consumers, so far, have been receptive to it,” Goldman said. “Why would brands spend more time and money on large-scale productions when this option exists, particularly in a world where content must be created and shifted quickly?”