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UK Insights

What brands can learn from Instagram pics

Izzy Pugh

Cultural Insight Director

Social 03.11.2016 / 17:15

Picture of people taking selfie outside coffee shop

Unlocking the power of user generated photos

We are living in a visual age. Every day 350 million images are uploaded onto Facebook and 80 million images are carefully cropped on Instagram. This user generated content is visually and emotionally rich in a way that only pictures can be.  It’s spontaneous and unsolicited and gives you a great picture of your brands earned equity.

What we see, particularly on Instagram, is a positive picture of life with brands and beyond them. If twitter is where people go to complain about the things that make them feel grumpy, then Instagram is where people go to share the things that make them happy. It is the story they choose to tell about their life, a little bit funnier, a little bit lovelier, and a little bit more exciting. The perfect balance of authentic and aspirational.

User generated images give you an interesting insight into the role of your brand in culture, but it’s powerful as a marketing tool in its own right. A study by Olapic showed that consumer generated content can achieve click rates up to 50% higher than brand content and can increase purchase by up to 70%.

But what makes someone want to share your brand in their visual content?  Kantar Added Value has conducted a comparative study looking at brands in the same category with different levels of engagement on social media: Lush vs Body Shop, Starbucks vs Costa, Converse vs Clarks etc. and we saw that the brands that connect most powerfully to culture are the brands that people want to weave into the stories that people tell and share about their lives.

We analysed the visual content that consumers create, using both semiotic analysis and an image recognition tool that can pull parallel images from across the web. We saw that the most successful brands in this space are those that tap into the cultural and visual worlds that the people they served are most interested in.

A great example of this is the brand Lush, as not only is the bath bomb experience colourful and highly visual, but the whole visual language around the products is one that taps into 60s psychedelia.

Lush have a cluster of consumer generated content around their 'fighting against animal testing' campaign, and again we see a world that both visually and conceptually taps into the culture of activism. The way the stores are set up to look like a market place plays neatly into the space of farmers markets, cooperative living and the millennial food culture.

What we see is a picture of a brand that has set itself up perfectly to be woven into the stories that consumers are already telling about themselves by tapping into three aesthetically distinct spaces that all trace back to a subculture of some sort.

Unfortunately not all brands have as much good raw material as Lush. But imagine if your brand could start to use all this rich, visual user generated content to get a picture of its earned equity today, but also the cultural and aesthetic spaces you might be able to activate to build your brand in the future.

Kantar Added Value is working with Ikea to understand how their brand positioning is really landing in the lives of consumers. What kind of stories are consumers telling, and what are the emotional hotspots in terms of the products, retail experience and brand communications that they can build on?

What Kantar Added Value discovered when they analysed IKEA images was, whilst you’d expect to see many images of home furnishings in home actually 80% of the content shared is about the store experience and, of images of products 20% of these were of meatballs and hotdogs. Not what Ikea had been expecting.

Flemming Thygesen, integrated insight manager at IKEA: “The absence of images about life at home and home furnishing solutions surprised us. The days of talking to consumers with traditional above the line advertising are so far gone, that we need to understand how consumers are engaging with us, what they’re saying about us and what images they’re showing. This is the image of our brand that is projected to other consumers and we want to be part of that.”

So what are Kantar Added Value’s top tips for those marketers who want to get involved in the conversation that people are having about their brand?

1) Humans love stories; in fact we are addicted to them.

2) The best brands not only tell stories but play a role in them and connect with culture in a way that makes consumers want to weave them into their own stories.

3) It’s going to be increasingly important to set your brand up to be the raw material for consumer’s stories and to know what kinds of stories people are telling with your brand.

Source : Kantar Added Value

Editor's Notes

Journalists, to interview Izzy Pugh, or for more information, please contact us.

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