Why marketers should be tapping into user-generated content

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 31 August 2023
Kate Musgrove

Consumers shopping today trust user-generated content (UGC) more than brand-generated content and brands that are connecting UGC across the shopping funnel are seeing the most success, according to Kate Musgrove, Asia-Pacific MD of Bazaarvoice.

UGC, defined as content created by the consumer as opposed to the brand, can take the form of everything ranging from a text, image or video post on social media, a question and answer on a blog or forum, a review or testimonial of a product or service or more. 

Most importantly, this content generated by 'users' is both organic and original.

Musgrove said that when it comes to eCommerce - an area supercharged by the pandemic - UGC is helping brands to driving success in the form of conversions.

"If we look at our network of brands we work with at Bazaarvoice, we can see that the conversion impact for products that have reviews as a form of UGC are converting 144% higher than those that don't have UGC," she said.

"Not only are they converting higher, but shoppers are actually spending more as well - they're spending on average 162% more. The brand is getting that much more revenue per visitor when they engage with UGC."

Musgrove said that research from Bazaarvoice shows that 78% of consumers trust what other shoppers are saying over what a brand says.

"There's this real content deficit because you see brands spending all this money on their own content and advertising, yet on the other hand, consumers are actually trusting what other shoppers are saying about products," said Musgrove.

She said that one of the key benefits of UGC for brands is in its ability to drive reinvestment in the marketing dollar.

"If we look at how a post performs, a regular post that a brand does, we're seeing consumers are 77% more likely to buy if there's UGC in that post," said Musgrove.

"Particularly in a time where you've got this global macro-economic pressures, where with every dollar spent you want to carefully scrutinise what your return is on that, the fact that posts are performing better with UGC means we expect that UGC will continue to be super-charging a lot of campaigns.”

Thinking about different generations, and in particular Gen Z with a lot of their shopping happening on social media, Musgrove said that if marketers don't start to accommodate to the needs of this younger cohort as purchasing power increases in that demographic, brands are going to find themselves left behind.

"Not just online, but as you think about how consumers are shopping, and retailers are hoping to create the omnichannel shopping experience and replicate that across different touchpoints with their brands, UGC can play into all of those, whether it's a post to drive brand awareness that's got UGC in an ad, whether it's an in-store banner or it could be a Q&A pulled out with a QR code in-store," she said.

"It's making sure that that UGC is accessible and displayed in all the different touchpoints where consumers are interfacing with their brand. We've seen again and again, overwhelmingly across not just Bazaarvoice research but other research too, that consumers want UGC to make a purchase decision. Content is king - the more content they have, the more influential the content can be.

"The most successful brands and retailers moving forward will be collecting the most content but it'll be authentic. Obviously, with privacy and data industry regulations being cracked down upon, making sure that they're doing so in a way that's transparent and compliant with the likes of the ACCC is really critical."

Looking at the advertising market more broadly, Musgrove said that there's a lot of headwinds, more scrutiny of every dollar spent and marketers being asked to do more with less.

"We're seeing this pivot where marketers are having to make tough decisions, but a lot of our clients know that by putting UGC in an ad, or working on getting as much earned content as possible that is outperforming all of their own created and paid content, means they can get that better ROI and the content is working harder for them,” said Musgrove.

Musgrove said she thinks there's a content deficit when it comes to earned content, because brands want to control the narrative, but the reality is the brand narrative has tipped towards consumers. 

“Brands are no longer what they say they are; it's what consumers say they are,” she said.

"The majority of spend still goes towards their own content and paid media, and there's an opportunity to invest more in the other direction. We know that ultimately UGC supports them in selling more and getting insights into their brands around enhancing products, so it seems like a no brainer.

“I feel like we're at the tipping point of where we will see more of that happening."

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