Over the last few years, Instagram has evolved from a photo-sharing app into the most engaged social network. In 2019, Instagram is an effective marketing tool to inspire purchase decisions and sell products. Why? Because 80% of users follow a business, 60% of people discover new products on the platform, and 75% of followers claim that some posts have inspired them to take action, according to Instagram Business.
This means great sales potential, so it’s no wonder Instagram rolls out business-specific features like product tags and stickers to improve in-app shopping, and therefore help businesses achieve success on the platform.
But the days when overly polished product images could hook customers’ attention are long behind us. Modern consumers crave authenticity more than ever, so they want to buy from companies they feel are transparent and trustworthy. Thus, showing off your product from different angles with white background product photography isn’t an option these days.
So, what’s the solution? Lay a bet on lifestyle photography.
What is Lifestyle Photography?
Lifestyle photography is not about a focus on your product; it’s about a kind of customer who buys the product being sold. Although lifestyle photography can showcase your product, its aim is to capture people in situations and real-life events.
Simply put, it’s about telling the stories behind your products. Since people want to feel or know what they can experience when using your products, they love stories. Not surprisingly, big brands like Nike, Gap, and Converse make the most out of lifestyle images on Instagram. But this is not only for large organizations; even if you’re a small business, it’s still critical to give lifestyle photography a try.
5 Reasons Why Lifestyle Photography Sells More on Instagram
When you rely on lifestyle photography to promote your product, you show your product being used or in its intended environment, so you give potential customers a hint at what they can expect after buying it.
Case in point:
In honor of its 50th anniversary, one of the world’s most well-known fashion labels Ralph Lauren ran an ad campaign with custom-made lifestyle photos and videos to build brand awareness and drive ecommerce sales among the Gen Z and millennial target audience.
From September–November 2018, the company used a powerful combination of video, collection and carousel ads in feed and Stories, and the results were as follows:
- 18% increase in online sales among the newly acquired millennial audience
- 41% increase in product page views among Gen Z acquisition audience
- 7.1X return on ad spend online with dynamic ads
And if you still wonder whether lifestyle photography should be a part of your Instagram marketing strategy take a look at the top five reasons why this content can help you sell more on the platform.
1. Draw Attention and Drive User Engagement
No matter your business size and niche, it’s important to increase social media engagement. Why? One study by Constellation Research reports that improved user engagement increases both cross-sell by 22% and order sizes from 5% to 85%. There’s no need to seek out math help to understand that user engagement drives your revenue. The more your content engages followers, the more likely they will buy your product, come back for more, and recommend your brand to friends and family.
The Dutch watches and jewelry company Cluse knows how it works. Since most people would agree that animals are cute, the company features a UGC post with a focus on a French Bulldog puppy.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by CLUSE (@cluse) on Feb 24, 2019 at 10:56am PST
Obviously, this post draws attention and it doesn’t sound salesy. But if you take a closer look at the image, you’ll see a product placement. With an idea to hook customers’ attention, the post drives engagement and promotes a product in an authentic way.
2. Gain Customer Trust with Authentic Content
In 2019, authenticity is the key to customer trust. Once you’ve built a transparent relationship with your customers, they are more likely to trust you, choose you over the other options on the market, become loyal customers. And if you use lifestyle photography, you can deliver an authentic look.
Let’s take a look at H&M. With the popularity of ephemeral content, it’s no wonder that the company uses Instagram Stories to sell a lifestyle. Since this content disappears within 24 hours, it creates the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect that attracts attention. Moreover, short-lived content is happening at the moment, so it’s more authentic, and therefore it gains customer trust. Want to know the best part? The company uses product stickers to help interested followers discover more about the featured products without leaving the app:
Obviously, it takes time, knowledge and practice to create Instagram Stories that keep your audience engaged. But if you’re not a big fashion brand like H&M, you may want to use Instagram Story maker unless you have a huge content creation staff. The main idea is to stay authentic as the best stories should feel like coming from a trusted friend.
3. Create an Emotional Connection with Followers
Seth Godin once said, “People do not buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”
It’s believed that 95% of purchase decisions are based on emotional factors. For marketers, this means that building an emotional connection with potential customers is a must. Luckily, lifestyle images are aimed at creating an emotional bond with consumers, so many companies use this type of content to rely on emotions.
For example, Nike is known for its successful marketing campaigns. To increase user engagement on Instagram, the company posts emotional lifestyle images that help followers believe in themselves.
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A post shared by nike (@nike) on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:20am PDT
Emotional marketing goes hand in hand with lifestyle photography, and there are five basic emotions you may want to use when creating your authentic product photos:
4. Focus on Selling a Lifestyle
Here comes the ugly truth: With a great number of options on the market, customers don’t care about your brand or product until it can solve their problems. Thus, marketers should focus on selling a lifestyle, not just products. If your content is about catering to your customers’ ideal lifestyle, your revenue can grow.
Let’s take GAP Kids as an example. Although the company sells kids clothes, it focuses on connecting to millennial moms. Of course, marketing to a broad demographic can be daunting, and mothers are no different. But GAP knows what all mothers have in common - they love the maternal lifestyle, so the company highlights it on Instagram:
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A post shared by GapKids (@gapkids) on Feb 28, 2018 at 12:31pm PST
In the case of GAP Kids, they are selling the opportunity to enjoy a lifestyle similar to their consumers. It creates an emotional bond, and followers are more likely to buy from GAP even though the above-mentioned post doesn’t promote a product. For marketers, that’s a winning customer acquisition strategy.
5. Explain Product Features
No matter how good your product is, it means nothing until it has potential clients who need it to solve their problems. Unsurprisingly, most customers do research to find out whether an interesting product will satisfy their needs before buying it. Thus, companies should not only know their potential customers’ pain points but also explain how to solve them with the product.
However, it’s not about the list of the benefits and features of your product. With lifestyle photography, you use the ‘show, don’t tell’ technique. For example, Lululemon, a self-described yoga-inspired athletic apparel, uses lifestyle images to explain its product features without a word. Just take a look at the picture below:
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A post shared by lululemon (@lululemon) on Jan 5, 2019 at 4:01pm PST
What is the message behind the image? The featured leggings have deep side pockets for a smartphone which is a must for women who love outdoor workouts. This image speaks directly to Lululemon's target audience, so it works well to nurture shoppers to make a decision.
In a Word
In the Human Era, customers crave a lasting emotional connection with the brands they love and choose. This means using overly polished ads won’t help to sell, and brands have to seek out new alternative ways to promote their products in an authentic way. Thus, the popularity of lifestyle photography is on its rise. For a variety of reasons, this is a proven way to hook potential customers, engage your followers, and sell more.
Pro Tip: There are plenty of courses you can take to hone your skills as an emerging photographer, here are some of the best photography classes available.
With over 6 years of digital marketing experience, Hugh Beaulac is a content manager at MC2 and SMM specialist who helps SMBs grow online. When he's not working on content strategies, Hugh writes for top-notch websites like SEMrush, WordStream, CrazyEgg, and others to share his tips and tricks on digital marketing.