Retail product images make the all the difference in online retail.

Choosing Product Images that Influence Purchase Decisions

Choosing Images that Influence Purchasing Decisions

Your product images are among the most important investments that you can make in your online shopping experience. While there is only so much that you can say in a confined space with words, photography offers a multidimensional perspective that empowers shoppers to make their own judgment calls.

So how do you produce images that do the heavy lifting in persuading customers? The key is to tap into the timelessness of human psychology—to remember that people are more than the clicks, swipes, and taps that lead them to a path to sale. 

At Tangiblee, one of our key findings across our customer base is that purchases increase when shoppers are able to see a product they’re considering buying in the context of their everyday lives. Consumers want to make sure that they make an informed decision with their hard-earned money—and what arrives in the mail will align with their expectations.

Here are 3 timeless tips, driven by academic research in psychology, that will help you make a deeper connection with shoppers online—no matter where they are shopping, what device they are using, and how they are discovering your products.

1. Help shoppers visualize your products as part of their daily lives

When consumers make shopping decisions, they’re doing more than thinking about the quality and value proposition of the product—they want to purchase items that bring positive benefits back to their lives. One study found that consumers shop with either a fixed or growth mindset. Mary C. Murphy, who teaches in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Indiana University, explained in an article from the Journal of Consumer Psychology:

“People with a fixed mindset are more likely to seek products and brands in line with their goals to burnish their self-image and demonstrate their positive qualities, while people with a growth mindset seek products that help them pursue goals and learn new things,”

And, Carl S. Dweck, who teaches in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University, added: “Thus, products and brands may serve important self-enhancement functions—encouraging consumers to reinforce or expand core aspects of their identity.”

So, when approaching product imagery, how do your products make customers’ everyday lives better? And, how do you convey that to future customers? It’s simple: the product images that you create need to bridge the gap between imagination and reality. Your customers need a realistic picture of how a purchase impacts their core identities as humans. 

One example to consider is Rebecca Minkoff, which is a brand that has gained international recognition for bridging the worlds of high fashion with consumer accessibility. The company works with Tangiblee to help shoppers self-direct their paths from consideration to purchase, along their buying journeys. Below are a few examples of of how the fashion brand successfully executed on their online store:

Product shots that highlight items from multiple perspectives for size and scale

Customer Instagram photos to show how Rebecca Minkoff’s products look in real life

Rebecca Minkoff showing multiple angles of a product
Rebecca Minkoff's intuitive, easy-to-digest product content

Showing products in a relatable, real-life context

Features & product specs shown in a intuitive, easily-digestible way

  • Product shots that highlight items from multiple perspectives for size and scale
  • Pictures of people using bags to complement their overall looks and wardrobes
  • Customer Instagram photos to show how Rebecca Minkoff’s products look in real life
  • Details regarding features, specifications, and details
Rebecca Minkoff showing watches in various contexts displaying watches in various interactive contexts for users

2. Share life images of customers in their happiest, most empowered moments

Do your products make your customers happy? If so, showcase more than a series of positive reviews.  Pictures of people, in the moment, speak way louder than words. 

Emotions are contagious, according to decades of scientific research. Beyond being contagious, they are also transferable through digital and social networks.

“John T. Cacioppo from the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago explains that the more expressive someone is, the more likely you are to notice that expression and mimic it,” writes Jodi Schulz in an article for Michigan State University. “He continues that the muscle fibers in your face and body can be activated unbeknownst to you, at much lower levels than if you were to perform those movements yourself. It’s those muscle movements that trigger the actual feeling in the brain.”

Research has also found that mood is a primary driver for purchase decisions, regardless of how self-aware humans are of this behavior. One study found a causal, positive relationship between happiness, satisfaction, trust, and commitment to the party. Other research has found that negative moods can lead to “a procrastination doom loop, in which an individual delays important tasks while waiting for an angel of inspiration to visit.”

While happiness isn’t for sale, the products that you sell do have the ability to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives. Knowing this, one of the most powerful ways to complement your core marketing is with lifestyle images that feature customers in authentic moments of joy.

As an example, take a browse through the Rebecca Minkoff brand hashtag on Instagram, which allows anyone to share photos of the company’s products, in action. Notice the smiles, everyday moments, adventures, and diverse perspectives that showcase Rebecca Minkoff’s accessories as a source of joy and burst of interesting style.

It’s people who show that products have the potential to be more than just “things.”

3. Communicate stories that further emotional connections

In 2015, a team of consumer researchers conducted a study of how to reach consumers’ feelings of emotional motivators. By examining hundreds of brands in dozens of categories, the goal was to understand a common series of motivators so that brands could more strategically build out their value chains.

The team identified hundreds of emotional motivators that drive consumer behaviors but focused in on 10 that significantly affect consumer behavior across all. In a nutshell, they found that consumers are looking to achieve the following in their purchases:

What consumers are looking for with every purchase:

• Stand out from the crowd, in establishing a unique social identity

• Gain confidence in their futures & having a positive vision for what’s around the corner

• Enjoy a sense of well-being in living a life that reaches their expectations, sans stress or conflict

• Experience a sense of freedom, act independently 

• Gain a sense of thrill through overwhelming pleasure

• Experience a sense of belonging with an affiliation with people who are relatable

• Protect the environment in purchasing sustainable products & improving the world around them

• Be the person they want to be in living up to their ideal self image

• Feel secure in believing that what they have today will be there tomorrow

• Feel that they are succeeding in life in finding self-worth that goes beyond socioeconomic status

Words alone can’t tell a story that’s comprehensive enough to communicate all of these emotional motivators. It’s up to your photos and the multidimensional perspectives that they share.

As an example, take a look at Tangiblee customer, HipVan Furniture—a Singapore based company that makes it easier for people around the world to buy affordable furniture online. 

When a person buys furniture, they are investing in a purchase driven by comfort and aesthetics. That’s why HipVan showcases photos of its products, on its website and Instagram feed, with bright lighting and beautiful backgrounds—in various compositions.

Each product image in Hipvan’s catalog communicates a story about furniture that improves the quality of their customers’ lives.

Hipvan Furniture's idyllic visuals
From hipvanhome (Hipvan Furniture's Instagram): Oct 2019. 
Hipvan Furniture's focus on idyllic, joyful displays for customers

Final Thoughts

If you’re going to invest in creating photography, it’s important to realize that you’re investing in telling a story. Every visual has the potential to speak to peoples’ subconscious—as a marketer in the retail industry, you need to embrace this capability as a gift.

Trust should be the basis for what you promise. At a bare minimum, you need to make sure that you follow through on what you’re communicating and that your visuals are true to life. But remember that beautiful visuals are beyond skin deep. Their purpose is to nurture your customers throughout their journeys and establish your company as a brand worth knowing.

Lucas Conrad

Lucas Conrad

Content contributor for Tangiblee