In today’s visual era, consumers are looking to social media more than ever to discover, compare and purchase products. When we conducted the Consumer Content Report: Influence in the Digital Age in 2017, our key findings showed that above all else, authenticity is the key factor that consumers look for when choosing the brands they like and support.
With that in mind, we wanted to delve deeper into the types of content consumers are creating, referencing and being influenced by across various types of buying experiences. At the same time, we sought to understand the perspective of the B2C marketers who are creating these content experiences for consumers. So, we conducted the 2019 report, Bridging the Gap: Consumer & Marketing Perspectives on Content in the Digital Age. This is what we learned.
The importance of authenticity is at an all-time high
Consumers are continually looking to brands to embody more than just a product line. Providing an end-to-end authentic experience for consumers is imperative for brands in order to make a meaningful — and lasting — connection.
In fact, 90 percent of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding which brands like and support — up from 86 percent in 2017, and 83 percent of marketers agree that authenticity is very important to their brands.
So, consumers and marketers are in agreement that authenticity is important. However, there is a disconnect between exactly what content is considered authentic. Although 92 percent of marketers believe most or all of the content their brands create resonates as authentic, 51 percent of consumers say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.Although 92% of marketers believe most or all of the content their brands create resonates as authentic, 51% of consumers say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.Click To Tweet
While consumers know the relatable and visually-engaging content they want to see, the brands they choose actually aren’t delivering as well as they think they are. So, where does the disconnect lie?
Brand and influencer content can’t compete with the authenticity and influence of UGC
Consumers value authenticity, and they know the content that will deliver it. Consumers are 2.4x more likely to say user-generated content is most authentic rather than brand-created content. However, marketers think otherwise. Marketers are 2.1x more likely to say brand-created content is most authentic compared to user-generated content.
This blaring discrepancy between the content that consumers consider authentic and the content that marketers think is resonating is adversely affecting more than just reactions — it’s affecting budgets. Consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than typical brand-commissioned influencer content when making a purchasing decision, but 49 percent of marketers are planning to increase their investment in influencer marketing in 2019.
Why are marketers investing in a content strategy that actually isn’t ringing true for their audiences?
When 79 percent of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, compared to the 13 percent of people who say branded content is impactful and only 8 percent who said influencer-created content would highly impact their purchasing decisions, it’s clear that a majority of marketers aren’t actually listening to the wants and needs of consumers.
Marketers aren’t personalizing as well as they think
In knowing the content they want to see, consumers are insisting on relevant, personalized content from brands. Sixty-seven percent of consumers — and 73 percent of Gen Z consumers — say it’s important for brands to provide them with a personalized experience.
Brands attempt to deliver on this promise, but they aren’t getting it quite right. An overwhelming majority (92 percent) of marketers believe their brands deliver personalized experiences to customers, but 14 percent of consumers disagree and another 41 percent neither agree nor disagree that the majority of brands provide personalized experiences.
That’s over half of consumers reporting that brands aren’t explicitly providing the personalized experiences that will keep them coming back — even though marketers believe they are.
Content is a persistent challenge for marketers
We hear it from marketers everyday at Stackla: producing enough engaging content is an issue they have been struggling to solve for years. So when we asked what marketers’ top three content challenges were, we weren’t surprised to learn that measuring content efficacy (60 percent), effectively managing content (57 percent) and producing or sourcing enough engaging visuals (50 percent) topped their lists.
And, over 63 percent of marketers feel pressure to continually produce greater amounts of content at a higher frequency. With that pressure increasing, marketers are feeling the need for an effective method of publishing enough of the content that matters.67 percent of marketers say they plan to increase their use of brand-created visuals, but only 15 percent of consumers say that’s the type of content they want to see from brands.Click To Tweet
But, again, they are missing the mark. Sixty-seven percent of marketers say they plan to increase their use of brand-created visuals in 2019, but only 15 percent of consumers say that’s the type of content they want to see from brands. And this content isn’t cheap. Over 41 percent of B2C marketers say they spend over $500,000 per year on content. That’s half a million dollars of their annual budgets that is going towards content that only 15 percent of consumers say they want.
How can marketers and consumers get on the same page about what types of content matter?
Consumers create the content they want from brands
These days, consumers are content creators; it’s basically become second nature for them to produce content about the brands they use and love. Over half (56 percent) of consumers say UGC photos and videos are the content they most want to see from brands, and they’re creating that content everyday.
In fact, audiences are even more likely to post about positive purchasing experiences in 2019 than they were in 2017. According the the report, 89 percent of people would post about a positive travel experience (up from 85 percent in 2017) and 85 percent would post about a positive restaurant dining experience (up from 76 percent). Plus, 65 percent of people would post about a positive health or beauty product experience and 62 percent would post about a new car.
Why wouldn’t marketers capitalize on this authentic support from their customers?
The authenticity and influence of user-generated content is unmatched, and UGC visuals are the most craved and created by consumers.
Not only would marketers better satisfy and engage consumers by leveraging the content they seek most, but the sheer abundance of these freely available UGC visuals also have the immense potential to lower the high costs most brands currently pay for content while also solving the persistent and growing challenge of producing enough engaging visuals at a quick enough pace.
With the overwhelming majority of consumers now seeking, trusting, posting and acting on consumer-created content, it’s clear brands can no longer simply rely on staged, stock and influencer images to break through the noise and establish meaningful connections with today’s consumers who increasingly crave authenticity and personalization.
For more information, download the full report: Bridging the Gap: Consumer & Marketing Perspectives on Content in the Digital Age.