Think about your last medium-sized purchase decision. It’s likely you had been unconsciously collecting inspiration from a compilation of curated media sources, culminating in a single moment when a product video, image, or a discount message triggered a narrative about why you had to have it. “It’s on sale, so I’d actually be saving money by buying it.”
Aaron Paine, the prior head of social media at Polaroid believes in shaping narratives like these in order to allow consumers to see the intrinsic value of products. Today’s purchases are inspired. Consumers require help envisioning how they’ll use products and why they need something badly enough to put it atop their wish lists, over their collection of saved eCommerce emails, or above the other items in their latest Pinterest board.
While product photos with a white backdrop had been a fairly standard way of presenting merchandise, Polaroid felt, for them, that style was failing to open consumers up to creative possibilities and value offered by their cameras. “We wanted to change up the relationship we had with content creation, “ said Paine. “We wanted a way to create genuine content for our consumers and not have to guess if the content would perform or not.”
Increasing Product Affinity Through Creative Storytelling
To obtain the authenticity they were seeking, Polaroid targeted actual consumers and asked them to create custom content that illustrated their love for the Polaroid product. When Polaroid received the assets back from the creators they suddenly weren’t just selling a product, they were selling a fun lifestyle. They had photography that said you can be the big-city girl or boy at a warehouse party, giving friends pocket-sized photos with personal notes on the back. You can capture your entire trip up the coast and make a collage on top of a map. The team no longer needed to be the storytellers because the actual market now provided a unique narrative within each photo.
Connecting with Consumers Through Short-Form Video Content
In addition to creative User Generated Content (UGC) images, Polaroid also traditionally ran monthly video ads. What they noticed was that the performance of these videos increased until the eighth day, at which point the performance peaked, then began declining, dropping by over 2x over the remaining twenty-two days.
With the help of cost-effective, consumer content creators, they were able to increase the volume of short-form videos being produced. Instead of running three videos over a three month period, the team was able to run a new video every week.
Driving Online Sales with User Generated Content
Within a year, Polaroid produced over 1,000 unique, user-generated images and videos. Using that content for eCommerce, paid, social and print produced better results than one-off campaigns that the Polaroid team previously ran with their digital agency at a much lower cost. “Our connection with customers has strengthened,” said Paine. “And our sales have skyrocketed.”
Since they began working with consumer content creators, Polaroid has achieved a 180% increase in sales, 200% higher return on ad spend, and a 120% higher engagement rate.