Both my brand executive experience at LVMH, Richemont and Christie’s and my current role at Splashlight (a leading visual content creation company geared towards e-Commerce and social media), give me a unique perspective on the importance of visual content to drive purchase decision and conversion in e-Commerce and social media.

First, I will share a few metrics to frame the influence of visual content in the e-Commerce and social media world:

  • Approximately three-quarters of U.S. Internet users regularly or always search for visual content prior to making a purchase, and only 3% never do, according to a 2017 eMarketer study.
  • 74% of consumers say text-based keyword searches are inefficient in helping them to find the right product online.
  • 67% of consumers say that the quality of product images is very important in selecting and purchasing a product, based on a Slyce Report on Visual Search.
  • 92.6% of consumers say that visual content is the top influential factor affecting their purchase decision, according to a HookLogic Brand Asset Whitepaper.

Three Factors In The Branded World: Volume, Speed And Quality

The omnichannel world requires a massive volume of visual content, and the pace of production increasingly requires on-demand or real-time capabilities as dictated by the market dynamics of fast retail, e-Commerce, and social media. Additionally, brands are facing a wave of commoditization that creates a crucial need for differentiating, personalized and aspirational content.

Moreover, seasonality is fading as brands and retailers adapt their business cycle to accommodate changing consumer trends and fast-retail market dynamics. The flow of content must not only be ongoing and on-demand, but also in real time. To add to the challenge, the consumer expectations for new products, new styles, new looks and new inspirations are amplified by the pace of social media. We are at a stage where social media communication can dictate trends to consumers.

How To Articulate Brand Strategy In Social Media

Beyond the content production challenges mentioned earlier, social media creates new brand dynamics.

The brand model that once was monolithic and siloed across well-defined channels (e.g. sales, marketing, CRM, logistics) is becoming increasingly fragmented and seamless. We are now seeing ubiquitous communications and commerce. Brand Presidents and CMOs must rethink their brand model to adapt to the social media and e-Commerce dynamics by:

  • Reassessing how to balance “brand power” and “product efficiency” in a world that is in flux and prone to disruption.
  • Pursuing the quest for differentiating, personalized and aspirational content.
  • Redefining the creative process and the storytelling of their brand by incorporating a very fast-paced, fragmented and non-linear brand model.
  • Leveraging analytics in a holistic manner to test and improve the level of engagement and conversion for their brand and products.
  • Fostering a virtuous circle where personalization and analytics refine the brand/product strategy, creative and production processes.

Such elevation is necessary to set a brand up for success in social media. This requires a different mindset, methodology and a new tool box across the entire brand process. The challenge is a Darwinian one: to adapt to a real-time world driven by massive commoditization and consolidation.

I will conclude with one last data point: Amazon now represents $0.50 of every $1.00 spent online.

Gilles Rousseau is Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Splashlight. Natively geared towards e-Commerce and social media, Splashlight is a leading visual content creation company for world-class retailers, luxury, jewelry, apparel and athletic brands. Rousseau has over 20 years of experience working in brand management and technology leadership roles. His unique skillset built from his dual areas of expertise has helped him lead and implement cutting-edge omnichannel brand strategies for luxury, fashion and apparel brands. Previously, he held senior brand management roles at LVMH, Van Cleef & Arpels (Richemont) and Christie’s International. In addition to serving in the aforementioned roles, Rousseau has served as Foreign Trade Advisor for the French Government since 2001.