Is UGC Disrupting Traditional Focus Groups Research?

October 2, 2023

Here is how User-Generated Video Content (UGC) offers an exciting  be a new opportunity for marketers: 

1. Scale and Volume:

UGC can provide a large volume of data from a diverse set of users. This includes product reviews, social media posts, forum discussions, and more. 500 hours of video is now posted every minute on YouTube and 5B product videos are consumed worldwide on a daily basis on YouTube. Imagine this multiplied by 35 global social platforms!

2. Authenticity: 

UGC is often seen as more authentic because it is created by real users without direct influence from the brand. This can be beneficial for gaining customer trust. When presented with information, shoppers trust other shoppers more than they trust a brand. 

3. Cost-Effective: 

Collecting UGC is usually less expensive than organizing focus groups, especially if the content is already being created and shared online. The average cost of running focus groups can run into $200 to $350 per participant shopper including recruitment, test design, implementation and rewards. Analyzing UGC content on the other hand ranges between $5 to $20 per user. 

4. Ongoing Insights:

UGC is continually being produced, providing an ongoing stream of data that can be analyzed for consumer sentiment, product feedback, and more. As long as there are humans and mobile devices, there will be expression of opinions. 

5. Unsolicited Opinions: 

UGC represents unfiltered and unsolicited opinions, which can provide valuable insights but can also be skewed by extreme opinions, either positive or negative.

6. Demographic Data: 

Video lets you capture the age, gender and ethnicity of the person along with facial expressions, enabling demographics and expression insights.

7. Location and Scene Analysis: 

Video lets you capture backgrounds and locations by understanding scenes. (e.g. the Eiffel Tower is in the background, etc.) That’s not to say there are no limitations to UGC, just as there are with all methods of consumer research. Some of those limitations that we’ve found are:

    1. Non-Representative: 

    The demographic that is active online and inclined to create content might not represent your entire customer base, potentially skewing insights.

    2. Data Complexity: 

    The diverse types of UGC can make it challenging to conduct systematic analysis. The data is also often qualitative, which can be hard to measure. Thus this requires tools that can perform multi-dimensional analysis such as processing audio, text, images and transcription.

UGC is useful for gathering large-scale, ongoing, and often quantitative data. It's particularly strong in capturing authentic customer sentiments but can be challenging to analyze systematically.

Focus Groups are valuable for deep, qualitative insights and allow you to control the discussion and the profile of participants. They are, however, more resource-intensive and produce insights at a smaller scale.

Both approaches have their own strengths and weaknesses, and they can complement each other in a comprehensive market research strategy.

About the Author

Katy boasts two decades in B2B technology & services, spearheading growth and brand evolution. A former Adobe marketing maven for 9 years, she’s since built growth teams for 5 tech startups that have all been acquired. With a stellar record in operational excellence and creating demand, she excels at leading successful cross-functional initiatives that enable companies to scale up.

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