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Online Shoppers Want More Authentic Visuals Than Pre-Pandemic

Stackla, the AI-powered visual content marketing platform for global consumer brands, released a research report titled Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC. The pandemic-era survey tells brand marketers how consumers’ online shopping habits have changed, where people across generations are consuming and posting content online, as well as which platforms and types of content most influence eCommerce purchase decisions.

Stackla’s survey of 2,042 consumers across the U.S., UK and Australia found that 83% of people say retailers need to provide more authentic shopping experiences to customers like them.

The data finds consumers have an increased demand for authentic customer content on brand websites, with a majority (56%) of people saying they’re more influenced by images and videos from social media when shopping online now than they were pre-pandemic. By generation, 86% of Gen Z and 81% of Millennial shoppers indicate they’re more likely to buy from eCommerce sites that display user-generated content (UGC) visuals.

Key findings from Stackla’s report highlight UGC’s growing influence on purchasing decisions:

• Nearly 8 out of 10 people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions — 8.7x more impactful than influencer content

• 72% of people say photos and videos from real customers is the content they most want to see on eCommerce sites when making purchasing decisions

• 59% of respondents say content created by other consumers (i.e. UGC) is the most authentic type of content

• Only 10% of consumers say influencer content resonates as authentic

“All generations of shoppers are telling brands they’re more likely to purchase products if they see authentic customer content on websites,” said Damien Mahoney, CEO and Co-founder at Stackla. “The survey results tell us online shoppers are influenced by and expect to see visual content from real customers more than ever before.”

People are Creating and Consuming the Content They Want to See from Brands

Despite the fact that 41% of consumers said the amount of content they post to social media has increased since the pandemic began, more than half (58%) said they’ve left a brand website without purchasing because it didn’t contain any customer reviews or photos (64% of Gen Z, 60% of Millennials).

Fortunately for brands, 58% of consumers said they’d be willing to grant a brand permission to use an image or video they posted of a piece of clothing or accessory in its marketing. The data also found that brands who choose to leverage UGC will be rewarded by shoppers, with nearly half of Gen Z (47%) saying they’d be more likely to continue engaging with a brand if it shares their photo or video. In fact, 65% of shoppers said they have purchased apparel or fashion items based on user-generated images or videos from real customers.

“When planning Trek’s #GoByBike campaign, we researched other successful marketing campaigns that influenced people's behavior and found that the common denominator was user-generated content,” said Haley Ludwick, Trek Bicycle Communications Manager. "People are far more likely to implement a behavior if they see other people participating. Stackla provided the perfect way for us to encourage people on a global scale to post on Instagram about choosing to #GoByBike. Over a year into the campaign, the #GoByBike hashtag has been used 112,000 times and we've gained the rights to thousands of pieces of UGC.”

“As more consumers make the shift to online shopping, they’re increasingly seeking authentic and personalized experiences to help them make purchasing decisions,” Mahoney said. “Luckily, today’s consumers are creating and willing to share with brands the exact content they want to see throughout their eCommerce experiences. The brands who use UGC to deliver these types of real and relevant experiences are the ones who will win shoppers now and in the future.”