A brand new report has revealed that user-generated content is vitally important to the consumer journey. Now in its third year, the Shopper Experience Index sheds new light on how modern consumers research, browse and buy and gives more importance than ever to peer-to-peer recommendations, reviews and feedback.

The report found that in 2017, just 50% of shoppers considered content such as photos, ratings, reviews and question and answers to be important – this year, that figure has grown to 64%. In its preface, the Shopper Experience Index explains, “Consumers actively navigate among brands and retailers — online and in-store, across devices, and through a variety of channels — and rely on authentic interactions with companies and other shoppers to help inform their decisions along the way.”

What’s more, when best-in—class sites present this type of content for shoppers to engage with, there’s a 137% conversion lift, leaving report authors bazaarvoice to conclude that “…user-generated content fuels the shopping journey. Even with the increased presence of chatbots, voice assistants, social media, and other digital innovations. Ratings and reviews are fundamental to the shopping experience today.”

Europe leads the way in this area, with 41% of consumers interacting with user-generated content, compared with 39% of American shoppers and 33% of consumers in Asia.

The bottom-line impact of user-generated content

The presence of ratings and reviews satisfies a key desire – as shoppers, we all want to know what other shoppers think before committing to a purchase. For brands, giving easy access to user-generated content has a direct monetary benefit. In addition to the increase in conversions already noted, the revenue per customer is 157% higher too.

The availability of images, ratings, questions and answers and reviews was found to be especially valuable in the hardware and DIY space. Brands presenting this type of content experienced a 206% conversion lift and a 57% increase in revenue per customer.

For home electronics retailers, user-generated content delivers a 189% conversion list and 174% growth in revenue per customer.

Apparel and accessories brands embracing user-generated content fare particularly well, with a 175% increase in conversions and 214% growth in revenue per customer.

It will come as no surprise to learn that the majority of brands plan to up their use of consumer content in 2019, with 98% saying they intend to either maintain or increase their efforts in their area over the next 12 months.

Other findings

The Consumer Experience Index also made a number of other key findings, with one being the revelation that modern shoppers expect brands to engage with them on a human rather than transactional level. Shoppers are said to crave interaction with their brand or retailer of choice before they commit to the purchase.

Question and answers on product pages are also important, with research findings showing that including Q&As on a product page leads consumers to buy 4x more, even if they don’t interact with the content offered.

With mobile dominating online use, the mobile experience is now a key differentiator and a chance for smart brands and retailers to stand out.

Personalisation matters too with consumers increasingly expecting to be served up a relevant shopping experience. 44% of shoppers say retailers failing to live up to this standard leave them feeling frustrated.

Here at Adrac, we understand the changing nature of the consumer experience and continually evolve our approach to ensure that our clients meet shopper expectations. To find out more, get in touch with us.