Survey highlights importance of user-generated product reviews, images

David Salazar
Managing Editor
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A recent survey from Bazaarvoice, a provider of product reviews and user-generated content, is taking a look at the way photos, visual and social content from other shoppers influence purchase decisions. After talking to more than 8,000 customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, the company said 62% of consumers said they are likely to buy a product if they can see photo and video content from previous buyers. 

The survey results underscore the ways that consumers look to one another as approachable resources for informing their purchases. 

“Relatable voices commenting on and reviewing a product instill trust in a brand and product amongst other consumers online,” said Joe Rohrlich, chief revenue officer of Bazaarvoice. “The more realistic and authentic audiences feel the review content is, the more confident they become when deciding to make a purchase.”

Visual content from other shoppers is seen as high in value, since it can give potential buyers insight into product quality and the accuracy of the description. This is particularly true for tech and electronics, with 36% of those surveyed saying it was the most important category for reviewing photos and videos. “Visual content shared by previous customers can give shoppers confidence to click the ‘buy’ button and reduce basket abandonment,” Rohrlich said. “It’s the best way to demonstrate online how the product fits or works, and can help potential customers imagine how they would use the product in their own lives.”

Forty-five percent of respondents said the quality of a review is their top priority when making a purchase, while 32% said how recently it was posted was their main priority, and 23% mentioning the number of previous reviews as an influence. One in five shoppers (21%) said that a quality review is one that includes photos and videos alongside text, and is more important than a review with good spelling or grammar, or a review that states when a product was purchased. 

Among social media sites, Bazaarvoice found Facebook in the lead, influencing a quarter of respondents’ purchases. Additionally, 26% said it is the most likely social platform for shoppers to buy a product on. Broken down by age, though, Instagram is the most popular destination for 18- to 34-year-olds, with 3% saying it’s their main source of inspiration and 27% saying it’s the most likely place for them to buy. Additionally, this age group skews higher in terms of wanting to see social user-generated content, with 73% saying they prefer brands to use visual user-generated content for social media, compared with 64% across other age groups. 

The imperative for brands is growing, the survey showed. Besides a preference for shoppable images and videos — 19% of all respondents said this type of content is likely to influence buying choices on social media — shoppers also want frequent new content. Forty-seven percent said that they want to see new user-generated content two to three times per week, with 10% saying they expect updates multiple times a day. 

“The honesty and credibility of seeing other people’s real-life photos and videos makes visual user-generated content infinitely more valuable than a product description or professional photos,” Rohrlich said. “By enabling visual content from previous customers — as well as text-based reviews — on their platforms and social media, brands and retailers can turn a one-dimensional customer experience into a dynamic one, that will simultaneously drive consumers to purchase. The trends across age groups suggest that those most engaged with online shopping — young shoppers — are the ones that find visual user-generated content most important. There is a huge opportunity for brands and retailers to stand out to these consumers with visual and social content.”