Visual consumer-generated content such as pictures and videos is playing a key role in helping buyers make purchase decisions, according to a June survey of 3,000 online shoppers from Bazaarvoice, a marketing firm that works with retailers on user content. The study found that 85% of respondents use visual consumer-generated content as the ultimate tie-breaker in making a decision between multiple brands.
Bazaarvoice’s report also revealed that 51% of those surveyed feel that online pictures and videos created by real people are helpful for everyday purchases, and 46% believe CGC also helps with major purchases that require a lot of consideration.
Visual CGC has now surpassed traditional word-of-mouth in making consumers confident in their purchases — 20% compared to 19% — while 86% of shoppers trust product content more when it includes both visual elements as well as ratings and reviews, the survey found.
Amazon, an e-commerce retailer that helped elevate the role of product reviews in the shopping process, recently became a believer in the next evolution of that form — what Bazaarvoice describes as visual consumer-generated content. It did so by launching its Amazon Spark content feature on its mobile app, allowing users of the app to browse photos and other kinds of content posted by fellow consumers.
That might be about as much of an endorsement as consumer-generated content needs to become the next big thing. As this survey shows, though, shopper sentiment is clearly moving in that direction already.
Consumer-generated content is really part of a much bigger and broader cultural movement. People are using their smartphones to snap photos and videos of everything in their lives, including things they are proud to own or have purchased and want to show off on social media.
Another recent study, from Bazaarvoice partner TurnTo Networks, showed that user-generated content (a more general term, but one that overlaps with consumer-generated content) is starting to become a major influencer in buying decisions.
What both these studies reflect is the notion that shoppers trust other shoppers' opinions and experience with a particular product, brand, retailer or shopping experience, arguably more than they trust marketing messages coming from seller.
That could mean it's time for retailers and brands to figure out ways to integrate consumer-generated content with their e-commerce, mobile commerce and even in-store shopping experiences. As with any kind of marketing pitch, they will need to take care how much they do this and that they don't overload customers with this kind of content or present it in a way that doesn't feel organic.