When was the last time you bought something without consulting a review? If you’re like most folks, simple purchases can often set off a research project worthy of an academic dissertation. And for bigger things, like one’s annual vacation, online bookmarks and lengthy discussions are the tip of the iceberg. For life events – either personal or corporate…. forget about it.
Why do we do this? Well, for one, we have more options than ever before. Increased choice is great, but it can also make decisions more difficult and time-consuming. To be sure we’re making the right choice, we look to those who have used the product or have stayed at the venue before us for answers and inspiration.
In today’s corporate culture, it is more possible than ever to “try before you buy.” Consumers love this, and marketing and sales teams will want to embrace this mentality and provide the customer service if they want to capture your customers at their moment of buying decision!
While none of this is new, the way we’re doing it is. In the past, we just read reviews. Today, we’re increasingly turning to videos and visual content (like 360˚ photography and virtual reality), using the richness of the format to live vicariously through other people and experience a product before we buy it.
To better understand this “try before you buy” mindset and what this new consumer decision-making process means for businesses, Google researchers took a look at its YouTube data and generously shares with us.
Video is changing how people shop
Once upon a time, shoppers relied solely on ads, professional reviewers, and word of mouth to evaluate a product. Today’s purchase behavior is much more complicated, with video playing an increasingly important role. For example, in the past year, 40% of YouTube users turned to the platform to learn more about a product before they bought it.1
Source: Google/Ipsos Connect, May 2017. A total of 4,917 U.S. respondents age 18-54 completed a device-agnostic survey. The study was fielded between April 27, 2017 and May 5, 2017.
People are drawn to the richness of video to help them experience a product in ways that words can’t convey. If you added up the time people have spent watching “First Ride” car videos on YouTube, it’s equivalent to driving from New York to San Francisco over 45,000 times.2 People are going on more than online test rides—they’re also using video to virtually tag along on trips to the store, travel through destination resorts, experience on-site tours of venues, and more.
On YouTube, the watch time of “Shop with me” videos—where viewers follow creators as they shop—has increased 1,000% over the past two years.3 With this format, viewers are able to experience the shopping journey through someone they trust, and in the process evaluate whether a product is right for them.
Source: YouTube Internal Data, U.S., Nov. 2017.
People want to hear the good and the bad
To get a full view of a product, people are actively seeking out frank reviews. As one YouTube user told us: “I want to hear the good and the bad. I also like to see how products perform in sub-optimum conditions.”
This shows an important shift in the buying cycle – we use immersive content (like 360˚) to see behind the veil. To see the full view, and there is an authenticity that is conveyed using this medium which is trusted more and more.
No doubt, people still look to brands for information. But that’s just one small part of their consideration process. They know brands will only tell part of the story, but they want the full picture before parting with their cash. As one viewer told Google researchers: “When it’s not an actor on a commercial, it gives you a sense of security with your purchase.”
What this mean for businesses and brands
Since many users aren’t going to be able to physically touch or view a venue or product before they book or buy it, businesses adn brands need to come up with creative ways to help people “experience” it online. Think of ways to bring your product to life online so it stands out—like using virtual reality or augmented reality.
There’s a whole community of creators testing and evaluating marketing strategies, including yours, we bet. We invite you to explore immersive marketing by including powerful video and 360˚photography in your TrueTour, using this powerful tool for your sales and marketing efforts! Have fun, and ask us for assistance and inspiration.
1 Google/Ipsos Connect, May 2017. A total of 4,917 U.S. respondents age 18-54 completed a device-agnostic survey. The study was fielded between April 27, 2017 and May 5, 2017.
2,3 YouTube Internal Data, U.S., Nov. 2017.