When to use video to promote your product

Advertise and showcase hedonic products (e.g. a nice suit, scented soap) using video - rather than still images - to increase how likely people are to choose them by more than 79%.

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📝 Intro

In which format should you present and promote your product?

When is it worth making a product video? (e.g. for your website, to list on Amazon, for ads)

How much should you spend on video-first channels and formats (e.g. YouTube, Facebook video ads) versus static channels (e.g. banner ads, print)?

It depends on what your product is for. Let’s take a look.

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Previous tip: Scarcity tactics can anger customers (All tips here)

Present and advertise hedonic products in dynamic formats (e.g. video)

Impacted metrics: Customer acquisition
Channels: Ads | Video ads | Image ads | Website | Marketplaces
For: Mostly B2C
Tip type: Existing research (November 2015)

📈 Recommendation

If your product is hedonic (e.g. fashion, high-end electronics, premium hotels, restaurants), present it (e.g. on websites, in ads) using video and other dynamic formats (e.g. slideshow, GIF), not static images.

People will be less sensitive to higher prices, and much more likely to buy.

If you must use static images, accompany them with a description that helps people imagine themselves using the product (e.g. “Imagine enjoying a sunny day with friends while wearing these sunglasses…”).

If your product is utilitarian (e.g. basic kitchen appliances, motels), it won’t make much of a difference if you stick to static images.

🎓 Effects

  • When products are presented in dynamic formats (i.e. video, slideshows), people are more likely to choose the option that offers the best hedonic benefits (e.g. nice design, fun to use) compared to the best utilitarian benefits (e.g. most practically useful, best value for money) - even if it’s more expensive.

  • For example, in experiments:

    • 81% of people chose a hotel room that had superior hedonic benefits (fancy shower and bed) instead of one with superior utilitarian benefits (cheaper, free wifi and parking) when the rooms were shown in a video. Only 52% chose it when they were shown using static images (see image below).

    • 49% of people chose a fancy coffee maker, compared to a functional one, when it was presented in an image slideshow. Only 17% chose it when it was shown as a static image (the same 4 images, arranged 2x2 in one image). 

      • The fancy coffee maker had a nice design, logo, and color options, but cost $72 and had limited functions. 

      • The functional coffee maker had more features, capacity, and cost only $28, but was ugly and unbranded.

    • In another experiment, people were willing to pay $43.39 on average for the fancy coffee maker (described above) when it was presented dynamically, vs $29.91 on average when it was presented through a static image.

  • Descriptions that help people imagine using the product can deliver some of the same positive effects of dynamic presentations (e.g. picture yourself enjoying [product] on the beach…)

  • The effect is weaker when people are making important decisions (e.g. choosing which flat to live in for several years). In these cases, they put in more effort to imagine the hedonic benefits of their choice without the help of a video (e.g. how it would feel to cook a nice meal in that kitchen).

(29% more people chose the room on the left when they were presented using video, rather than still images as below - Click to zoom in)

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🧠 Why it works

  • Dynamic formats (e.g. video, slideshow, GIFs) present information in a more lifelike way than static images.

  • This makes it easier to imagine using the product. 

  • When we’re imagining using the product, we start thinking more about what the experience would be like, so hedonic aspects become more important (e.g. would it feel good?).

✋ Limitations

  • The study focused on online environments. The effect is likely to also apply in offline retail (e.g. in-store, billboards), but this was not directly tested.

  • We don’t know if interactive formats for showcasing products (e.g. an interactive website, a VR experience) would increase or weaken the effect, because if people are ‘using’ the product, they aren’t imagining using it instead.

  • Voiceovers might add or detract from the effect (since they could be distracting). To be on the safe side, you might want to use only background music first.

🏢 Companies using this

  • This research is 6 years old. Since then, online retailers have upped their game, and more and more have started using dynamic formats to present products. For example:

    • Amazon introduced product videos in 2017

    • For many products, Asos shows videos of models wearing the item

    • Airbnb encourages uploading videos of experiences and offers seamless image slideshows

⚡ Steps to implement

  • If your product has strong hedonic benefits, creating a video of it is likely worth it.

  • To make it easier for people to imagine themselves using your product (which is the driver behind this effect) when they watch your product video:

  • If a video is too difficult or costly, present it in a smooth slideshow of multiple high-resolution images.

🔍 Study type

Lab and online experiments.

📖 Research

Roggeveen, A. L., Grewal, D., Townsend, C., & Krishnan, R. (November 2015). The impact of dynamic presentation format on consumer preferences for hedonic products and services. Journal of Marketing.

[Link to paper]

🏫 Affiliations

Babson College and University of Miami. United States

Remember: This research could be disproven in the future (although this is rare). It also may not be generalizable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.

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