We are living in a time of rapid change. Throughout the last year brands and retailers have faced extreme acceleration of e-commerce due to Covid-19, and increased fragmentation due to the proliferation of communication channels and marketing technology platforms. This has landed organisations in a competitive marketplace where it is difficult to gain and hold consumers’ attention. The rules to the game are consistently shifting, and it begs the question; how do you stay ahead of the curve?

In times like these, brands and retailers must carefully listen and learn from their consumers to be confident that they are delivering the best possible customer experience, which can then drive competitive advantage.

Consumer wants and needs are constantly changing. It is not enough to provide what is expected. A brand must go beyond this expectation and anticipate what they might need next. Companies must start engendering a culture that encourages forward thinking, getting the best ideas to reach the market ahead of competitors.

Getting ahead with user-generated content (UGC)

Soliciting direct feedback and monitoring UGC from loyalists and critics gives a brand valuable insight that will help them stay ahead. Here are some of the ways we have seen Bazaarvoice customers utilise their UGC:

  1. Hone your marketing tactics

We’ve seen examples of brands increasing their revenue by updating product descriptions to match the language that customers use in their reviews that they leave on the brands website. This more naturally aligns the product with the way customers view it. 3M implemented this tactic for a pair of their Scotch scissors and after one month of testing, the product page which included customer language in the description outsold the one without by 18 to 1. Pre-launch testing with this method can help inform product launch materials, ensuring products hit the ground running.

Brands are also utilising customer images on their own channels that have been created through UGC, increasing trust and brand advocacy. River Island clothing has experienced a 184% lift in their conversion rate and a 45% increase in average order value among site visitors who engage with the UGC compared to those who did not.

2. Improve products

Negative feedback can be an incredibly powerful tool to inform product improvements. Monitoring this feedback enables you to stay up to date with issues and allows you to address them in real time. When Nestlé received negative reviews and sale decreases after introducing a new formula for one of their iced tea products, the team quickly responded and reverted to the previous formula. This resulted in 1.7-star reviews increasing to 4 stars.

Mid-star reviews also offer some of the most constructive feedback. Consumers who provide mid-star reviews generally like the product but are also willing to give practical feedback on any issues they encounter. Often this is overlooked. It is some of the most undervalued content that provides crucial insights for brands and retailers.

UGC can even inspire new ideas and product innovation.

3. Identify advocates

UGC is fantastic for identifying relevant influencers and advocates for brands and retailers. It provides a constant stream of interactions for brands and helps create an opportunity for genuine connections with influential consumers and advocates.

By acting on the feedback, brands can send a strong message to consumers that they are listening, building a stronger connection with engaged consumers.

4. Know how you stack up against your competitors

UGC can also be used by brands and retailers to benchmark themselves against competitors in key areas. Consumers can often reveal advantages and selling points, and their feedback provides extra insight that can set brands apart. When brands can understand how they stack up against competitors, they can identify how to gain or maintain competitive edge.

The brands and retailers that are using UGC to listen and learn from their consumers, will be setting themselves up to make better business decisions, respond more quickly to issues and have more genuine engagement with consumers. It puts brands in the strongest position be competitive in this marketplace.

Kate Musgrove is managing director for Asia Pacific at Bazaarvoice.