There is a critical requirement for good product images to support all content that converts. Images fall into two recognised formats, basic and advanced. In this blog, we will look at content images in general, but also how some of the top laundry care brands performed in our recent Digital Shelf Assessment.
Why product images are important
No one wants to laboriously read reams of text to find out more about a product, the consumer attention span is a maximum of 8 seconds. The use of images to break up text is vital.
Effective product images are two of the building blocks required for brands to create great content that converts. Images are split into two main types, basic and advanced, and within them, computer generated images (CGI) and mobile ready hero images (MRHI) are also used. We’ll look at these in more detail later.
A Salsify report found that while consumers rely on multiple elements to help them make a decision to purchase, seeing good retail images is the second most important factor, with customer reviews hitting the number one spot. So, get the rest of your content right, especially the images, and you’ll sell more and get more positive reviews, which helps brands to sell more – a virtuous circle.
Images should empathise with shoppers’ specific top of mind issues and show how the product can enhance consumers’ lives or make a task easier. This is particularly true of laundry care product options where bio versus non-bio, fragrances and freshness, stain removal, dermatological testing and even child proof containers can be highlighted.
Everything should be mobile optimised, and consideration given to the fact that up to 50% of global mobile traffic is viewed on screens smaller than 5” – so those users definitely prefer images to text. Half of all internet shopping traffic is done from a mobile device. Statistics also show that 40% of shoppers will go to a competitor if they have a bad mobile experience, and a staggering 84% have experienced difficulties in completing a mobile transaction.
Definitions and explanations of the types of image used on digital shelves
eBusiness Institute has published a Laundry Care Digital Shelf Assessment White Paper that considers many aspects of how successful or otherwise top laundry care brands are with regard to their content. Within that Digital Shelf Assessment is an eye-opening detailed piece on images.
Before we get into the detail of how brands can better leverage the use of images and what good and bad looks like, it’s worth setting some definitions around the types of image that can be employed. In all cases, high resolution material should be used and consideration given to the fact that the majority of consumers want a zoom facility to check out features close up.
The first image type to define is the basic level.
Basic images (either photography or computer generated) should be portrayed on a white background and depict the front and back of the product pack, and also shots taken from different angles to show size and depth. It is beneficial to show the product out of the packaging and to include close up shots of relevant facts about the product, as depicted on the labelling. The basic images should also be supported by mobile ready hero images (MRHI) and advanced images.
Bad practice (shown below on the right) only shows one side of the packaging, doesn’t include any specific product detail and doesn’t have a mobile ready hero image or connection with any advanced images.
Now let’s look at advanced level images.
As the name suggests, these take product content imagery to a new level and, again, can include photography and CGI. Shoppers are increasingly researching and shopping online, so brands’ content must keep up with demands for detailed product information. Advanced level images support the basic ones by delivering all the necessary additional information required by the shopper before a decision to purchase is made. Advanced content is usually found below-the-fold.
It is laid out in a format that clearly allows users to see such additional detail:
- Extra features and instructions on how to use the product
- Advanced images and video that explain the benefits of using the product
- Product descriptions delivered in a story format to connect with the shopper in an inspirational way
Advanced images should engage the audience, reflect the product within the consumers’ lifestyle and make them feel that the product content answers all their questions. This generates an emotional connection that can increase wallet spend, driven by what is now a strong link between the shopper and the product.
This Ariel example, below, from Amazon DE includes all the key points and concludes with a connection describing how tough stains might be easily removed.
As with any process there are some clear pitfalls to be aware of and avoid:
- Don’t use low resolution shots or any image that cannot support a zoom facility
- Don’t post irrelevant material just to fill up space. If it’s not working to earn its keep, it shouldn’t be there
- Don’t over brand. It will turn the consumer off and reduce your authenticity and credibility
- Don’t use small text or anything that won’t show detail clearly on a mobile device
The final definition refers to mobile ready hero images (MRHI).
These are representations of a real world product that are clearly recognisable on the digital shelf in terms of design, shape and colour. MRHIs have 4 elements that are especially effective for viewing on a mobile device, particularly those with a screen size of less than 5”. The 4 key elements, known as the 4Ws, are there for ease of highlighting specific aspects of the product, as depicted in the example below.
What is the product
Which variety is it
HoW much of it is there
Insights from the laundry care sector with regard to the use of images
It doesn’t matter whether you live in Moscow or Milan, Angola or Adelaide, everyone needs to wash their clothes. Laundry care brands must have product images and content that travels well in order to take full advantage of market opportunities. Let’s see how some of these brands have applied the principles of imagery to their content, and how successful (or otherwise) they have been. Using material and findings from the eBusiness Institute Laundry Care Digital Shelf Assessment White Paper we can see how leading laundry care brands could have leveraged the use of images much better.
We reviewed the eCommerce offerings of 13 leading brands including Persil, Fairy, Tide and Ariel, all of whom are selling across numerous online retailer platforms. We applied a Digital Shelf Assessment, an investigative process that comprehensively examines eCommerce content, all benchmarked against best-in-class competitors. This allows us to set a baseline to identify areas for improvement with clarity and focus. Brands can profit from these insights in order to frame strategies that create and implement optimised content to sell products and connect customer experiences.
Of course, the Digital Shelf Assessment reviews all the building blocks that are required to be successful, but we are just reporting on the image findings in this blog.
- Overall gaps in basic product content are widely spread across product lines for each laundry care brand. There exists real opportunities for all brands reviewed to improve how they produce and manage assets regionally
- All the brands need to revisit their content and focus on mobile friendly images that aren’t cluttered with too much text. Similarly, there is a lack of consistency when it comes to displaying the fundamentals of basic images, which should show front and back of pack and mobile ready hero images. Ariel, Fairy and Persil did provide good examples of the effective implementation of MRHI however.
It is worth mentioning that MRHIs should appear on the search results page of the eRetailer’s site (example below left) and be the first image on an image carousel (example below right).
- Advanced images, sustainability and ingredients/allergens are areas where the category performs poorly, in general
- When it came to advanced images there was a marked difference between certain markets. All laundry care brands need to improve their content in France and Italy, while the UK and Germany performed averagely, and the US came out on top. There appears to be a lack of understanding of below-the-fold descriptions, and that in itself is a serious barrier to achieving best-in-class status for advanced product pages
Getting advanced images right is important as they are proven to drive conversions.
The use of images, both basic and advanced, is a critical part of not only effectively promoting your product features and benefits, but also connecting with the consumer emotionally.
It is extremely important that all image material is correctly optimised for viewing on mobile devices and images should have a zoom capability.
In our laundry care examples, all brands missed opportunities to gain market advantage with good advanced content. When we drilled down into the images results, no one brand achieved higher than average with basic images and most were classed as poor in the advanced image review. No brand thought to employ video to promote specific aspects of how the product works.
There was a general lack of consistency from our laundry care brands when it came to the use of MRHIs. They all need to make better use of these, especially as many shoppers are browsing on mobile devices often with small screens, and therefore need to see the information on offer in a clear, uncluttered format.
To conclude, all laundry care brands would benefit from a thorough Digital Shelf Assessment in order to improve their content, including images, and develop targeted strategies aimed at moving the brand towards sustainable sales growth.
Putting your brand in the picture with eBusiness Institute
Our expertise ensures that your product content is best-in-class, especially as the images you use are an important driver towards conversion. Only then will you have delivered a truly connected shopper experience.
You can find out more about how laundry care brands fared and see how we can help your brand achieve success by downloading our Laundry Care Digital Shelf Assessment White Paper.