UGC has greater influence on purchase behavior than brand-built
Marketing food and beverage brands these days can feel a bit like playing darts with the lights off – trying to hit the mark of engagement when unsure of the path to this goal. A recent global consumer study sponsored by Stackla and conducted by Market Cube, helps illuminate the pathway to delivering the kind of content that resonates with consumers. Turns out it is stories created by their contemporaries, friends and family that matters most.
The old era of interruption-style, one-way marketing has been dethroned. We now live in a content-driven world. In an effort to reach increasingly elusive consumers, brands have become self-publishers and active participants in their own social channel communities.
- People tend to tune out and avoid anything that looks or sounds like conventional marketing, so it is vital that new thinking be applied when designing brand building content strategies.
That said consumers have also become more savvy and sophisticated in assessing the credibility of content based, in part, on the source of that information.
What kind of content is most influential to purchase decisions?
- Eighty-six percent of consumers believe that authenticity is important when deciding about brands they will purchase, according to the study.
- Yet 57 percent of consumers think that less than half of the brand-produced content out there is truly authentic.
What does authentic mean to consumers?
User generated content is seen as three times more authentic when it comes from friends, family and other consumers rather than content produced by the brand itself or through the voice of a celebrity spokesperson. (We think use of celebrities can be deemed credible if great care is given to genuine and natural connections to the brand, and when organic and believable messaging tone is achieved.)
People choose to believe other people like themselves first because there’s a perceived higher threshold of honesty and integrity than company-built material. Which, in the eyes of the beholder, may be seen as serving only a transactional agenda.
Here are some highlights from the research:
- What kind of content is most authentic? Created by consumers: 60 percent. Created by brands: 20 percent.
- 52 percent of people say they post on social media at least once a month about products they’ve purchased.
- 39 percent of consumers say they post about food and beverages at least two times a month.
- 76 percent of people will post on social media (mostly Facebook) after a positive experience purchasing a food or beverage product, or dining out.
- 70 percent of the time consumers can identify an image created by a brand rather than a consumer.
- 20 percent of consumers have un-followed a brand on social media because they thought the content was too corporate and self-serving.
- Authenticity matters to 90 percent of Millennials, 85 percent of Gen-Xers and 80 percent of Boomers
User generated content is a highly intrusive, credible and effective form of engagement because it respects the consumer desire for honesty and integrity above all.
The litmus test for success here comes back to a fundamental understanding of what people believe. Building trust is paramount in brand communication. The voices of users and family members work more effectively here because it flows from a desire to be helpful; it’s not self-serving. For brand-created content, the aforementioned tone and spirit should be factored into messaging to help assure it conveys a human, real and believable approach that doesn’t come across as a hard sell.
The testimonial voices of happy consumers can be one of the most powerful and persuasive of tools at your brand’s disposal. So help them tell their story. Encourage this behavior in your social channels. Feature the voices of your fans and ambassadors. It’s the equivalent of a laser-guided dart hitting the bulls-eye of engagement.
The five-point UGC checklist:
- Create rewards for fans that share photos, videos and experiences
- Offer incentives for users who share content in their own networks
- Develop promotions and contests to solicit content and amplify distribution
- Embed UGC content in your email campaigns
- Integrate shared authentic customer experiences at your web site
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Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.