When purchasing a product, our brain calculates millions of different factors before proceeding with a choice. Price, availability, and style all come into account when making a shopping decision. But what really influences us the most? Fear of missing out. We want to indulge in the everyday fashion trends, and therefore follow others to get a taste of the constantly evolving styles. We simply want what others have.
Brands that realize how our shopping decisions work, distribute more of their ad spend to social media, in order to deliver actual sales. But what content should actually be posted on these platforms to increase consumer recognition & conversion? We discuss here the psychological factors behind marketing through real user-generated content (UGC), and the driving forces that make UGC potent enough to maximize their brand’s potential.
Social proof: The way our minds work
We know that using user-generated content works (See: Using UGC vs Stock photos increased effectiveness by 400%). But why does UGC work? Why do consumers care about the opinions of others? What drives them to follow the actions of others? And why do consumers want to be influenced by others opinions rather than their own? The simplest answer to all these doubtful questions is based on a psychological phenomenon known as social proof. Social proof explains why we as consumers assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. However, we would go crazy if we depend on social proof to make life decisions. Consumers are mostly reliant on others’ opinions in shopping decisions. Why so?
“Most of us less scientific sheeps don’t call it anything. We simply choose to follow the crowd.” (KissMetrics)
Let’s see a few examples
Have you ever walked by a nightclub or bar and witnessed a huge crowd attempting to get in. Was your first thought to go inside and experience yourself why people are so eager to get in? The perception of popularity is usually what provokes us to make decisions not only in social contexts, but also for fashion-based decisions.
If your friends all wear a certain brand of clothing, do you desire to do the same, or the opposite? Most of the time people want to be accepted by others and would therefore try to fit in with the social norm. That being said, you are more likely now to buy that specific brand. This explains how the industry of e-commerce, being such a social environment, has resulted in social proof becoming its greatest force when making buying decisions.
UGC vs. Traditional marketing
Usually, when brands promote their products it’s through a corporate catalogue featuring a typical female model. Although these images are still chic and make us want that product that looks so good on the model, it is proven that these images are not persuasive enough. The strategically thinking fashion brands today are the ones that realize that gearing more towards UGC increases their sales. They take note that consumers appreciate a product more when it’s authentic, rather than being sold by the product appearing on the typical Photoshopped skinny female model.
This is where the blogging world comes in. Bloggers and celebrities act as a social proof force, recommending products they are using and are happy with. When their followers comment, like, or share, consumers are more confident to purchase that product knowing it has proved satisfactory to others. This feedback is all that an online retailer needs to drive millions of customers to notice a product without spending any money on traditional advertising.
Brands that recognize this new method of marketing are the ones that will most likely be successful. We want what others have, brands want us to want what they have, and our fashion influencers simply want to get noticed. The shopping experience simply works in that way, making UGC so vital in the competitive fashion industry we currently live in. Brands that haven’t yet realized this need to wake up if they want to survive. Out with the old, in with the new.