Earned content is emerging as one of the most important differentiators in whether a product sells or not. In a recent study by Bazaarvoice, 85% of consumers say visual consumer-generated content (also called earned media or user-generated content) is the ultimate tie-breaker in making a decision between multiple brands. It’s nothing new, of course. Study after study seems to find that consumers trust peer recommendations over branded advertising.
While consumer knowledge of the past was driven by top-down advertising, people are now increasingly learning about brands and products from peers online. Social media, reviews and digital technology have transformed how consumers make purchase decisions. From the moment they first see an item, to the people they see using it, to what and who they see talking about it — make no mistake: the consumer is now directing their own buying journey.
Bazaarvoice also found that 51% feel that online images and videos created by other consumers are helpful for swaying everyday purchases. For major purchases, 46% said they believed user-generated content helps with weighing purchase options. Not only is the consumer at the center of direct (and for the most part, unfiltered) information. But once they purchase an item, their voice and experience becomes a new-age type of ad campaign that the brand can’t control.
“It boils down to this: shoppers are creating and sharing more and more visual content related to their buying experiences, and they’re paying more attention to each other’s opinions than to what brands have to say,” Bazaarvoice reported. “The most successful brands are those that are finding ways to take advantage of this consumer trend, and who are making social visual CGC work for them.”
Fashion is one of the most obvious verticals for sharing high-quality consumer content. Like your new sunglasses? Share a pic of them on Instagram. It’s a simple concept but fashion brands have made an art form out of encouraging consumers, fans and influencers to share UGC. Here are three of our favorites.
Calvin Klein: #MyCalvins
Perhaps one of the best examples of user-generated content is Calvin Klein’s campaign, “I _______ in #MyCalvins.” Calvin Klein first launched this campaign by inviting celebrity endorsers (the likes of Kendall Jenner, Kendrick Lamar and Justin Bieber) to discuss the brand in their own lives. Everyday consumers then took to Instagram and Twitter to submit photos wearing CK products with the #MyCalvins hashtag. This generated an online gallery of tens of thousands of pictures which Calvin Klein then featured on their site with links to corresponding product pages — allowing the user to buy the look for themselves.
Burberry: Art of the Trench
While timeless, Burberry is anything but antiquated — its sales have quadrupled in the last decade, and generated over $3 billion in revenue for 2016. Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts attributes Burberry’s UGC strategy as a central part of that success. In fact, e-commerce sales rose by 50% within launch of their Art of the Trench campaign. Part-showcase, part-social network, it allowed customers to upload pictures of themselves in their Burberry products. Users even interacted with one another and comment on each other’s posts.
Marc, by Marc Jacobs: #CastMeMarc
With a first trial so successful that over 70,000 submissions took over Instagram in 2014, the fashion powerhouse decided to go for a second run in 2016. #CastMeMarc was brilliant in its campaign as it promised that each submission would serve as a chance to become a Marc Jacobs model. The campaign asked budding fashionistas to submit videos expressing why they ought to be the next “beauty social media sensation.” Marc Jacobs interns sifted through the tens of thousands of submissions, selecting finalists which were flown to NYC for a final audition.
How can brands source more earned content? How can they use that imagery to gain more followers and sell more products? Find out with our guide 35 Ways to Turn User-Generated Content into Real Revenue.
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