eTail and TurnTo Study Reveals Accelerated Adoption, Success of User-Generated Content Marketing Strategies for Mid-Market Retail

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96% of mid-market retailers agree that UGC encourages consumers to engage with their brands

Partners eTail and TurnTo have released their 2017 mid-market retail report based on feedback from 105 mid-market retailers surveyed at the eTail West conference in 2017. The report provides an analysis of marketing priorities and performance in user-generated content adoption (UGC), revealing improvements in all metrics—conversions, customer loyalty, customer advocacy, and others—among a majority of mid-market retailers surveyed.

Named Aligning Customer Content with Retail Success, the report shows marketing is shifting towards a more people-focused effort, where 50% of mid-market retailers identify content—including UGC and customer images—as the top contributor for distinguishing their brands from the competition. Additional data indicates that UGC adoption and contributions are on the rise, where 34% of mid-market retailers see an increase in UGC submissions.

“Consumers need more than discounts and free shipping offers. User-generated content creates confident buyers and builds trust between brands and their customers,” says Jim Davidson, Director of Research at TurnTo. “Mid-market retailers clearly see the value with UGC (50%) outranking promotional offers (38%) and data-driven strategies (19%) as the top brand distinguisher.”

The findings indicate that mid-market retailers realize the power of UGC—a key strategy for half of those who responded to the study. Those retailers who align content with the needs of their customers have positioned themselves as experts and are utilizing customers’ advocacy and familiarity with their products to add value to their commerce strategies, according to eTail researchers.

“Mid-market retailers engaging with consumers to create intuitive, narrative content are now inspiring consumers and becoming a part of their lifestyles,” says Chris Rand, Content and Research Manager at eTail. “This is a priority for retailers; now they’re offering consumers a seamless path from inspiration to purchase.”

Key mid-market retail statistics from the report include:

  • 50% of retailers say UGC and other content are the most important contributors to brand distinction
  • 72% of retailers say UGC increases sales and conversions
  • 90% of retailers claim UGC increases or significantly increases customer advocacy

The eTail 2017 Mid-Market Report is available here.


WBR Digital connects solution providers to their target audiences with year-round online branding and engagement lead generation campaigns. We are a team of content specialists, marketers, and advisors with a passion for powerful marketing. We believe in demand generation with a creative twist. We believe in the power of content to engage audiences. And we believe in campaigns that deliver results.


Launched in 1999, eTail has been dedicated to supporting the growth of the retail industry ever since. What started off as 100 people in a room discussing where this sector is headed, has lead to 2000 senior-level eCommerce executives being inspired whilst learning and developing their company as well as their careers.


TurnTo provides next generation customer content solutions to top merchants and brands. With four innovative products that work beautifully together – Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews, and Checkout Comments – TurnTo delivers greater conversion lift, better SEO, and deeper merchandising insights. eCommerce leaders like Saks Fifth Avenue, Newegg, Sur La Table, GNC, Cole Haan, Jockey, and Clarins rely on TurnTo for their customer-voice programs.

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Lauren Pozmanter
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