Is UGC the key to brand growth in 2020?

2nd Jun 2020

User-Generated Content (UGC) is growing like crazy. We all love to share, review, and comment about our experiences, favorite products, and places. Brands do a great job of encouraging us to do so as it's great for gathering feedback and to the brand's eCommerce performance. 

UGC is part of the fast-growing volume of unstructured data around the world and one of the best resources for consumer insights. According to IDG, unstructured data is growing at a rate of 62% per year, and by 2020 93% of the world's data will be unstructured. With so much data, you'd expect brands to shorten feedback loops and tighten customer relationships. However, per a recent Nielsen study, 80% of small and mid-sized CPG companies report that information gaps limit their ability to grow.

UGC is mostly an untapped authentic, pure, unsolicited customer feedback data. However, to use this data, you'll need:

  • The ability to turn "free form" opinions by any customer and language into a collection of organized feedback sorted by topics, sentiment, product, and brand. 
  • Fully digitize your entire value chain from product conceptualization to product evolution.

With the majority of the world data being unstructured, understanding it becomes critical. With so much information out there from consumers and shoppers, can anyone afford to ignore it?

Digging the gold from Unstructured Data

With so many customer feedback-channels that exist today, consumers can voice their opinions online or directly to the brand via digital means like social media posts and stories, eCommerce reviews, or more traditional ways like emails, call center and customer intercept surveys

Brans must understand their customers' needs and wishes and leverage this data towards new product launch, product innovation, and product marketing at scale. Traditionally market research is heavily relying on manual research by experts or research firms, its a lengthy process that takes months to complete. 

A failed product launch could continue to fail for four to six months until the brand figured the reason it was failing and started to correct course (which usually takes months as well). Imagine if you could click a button and get a detailed read on what customers are saying about your brand/products or competitors across these channels?

The data is already there, your customers (and your competitors' customers) are sharing their thoughts across multiple publicly available channels. Here is what brands typically find by analyzing this data:

  • Product/service feedback ("Like the coffee in this place", "Love the screen of this phone")
  • Shopping experience - ("Not in stock", "Easy online purchase")
  • Customer service experience - ("Returns processing", "Customer support", "Warranty")
  • Brand perception - ("Loyalty", "Value for money")
  • Customer wish list - What customers like and what they wish the product had
  • Changes in consumer tastes - Stay alert to shifts in consumer tastes as they change faster than ever before.

The broader range of sources that you will leverage for the analysis will yield a complete picture. Channels used for detailed feedback are better, obviously, like call center transcripts and customer support tickets.

Empowering decision making across the organization

With all this potential/valuable information hiding within unstructured data, brands can derive significant value from it, and across a wide range of roles. Imagine just a few quick scenarios:

  • Marketing: Position any campaign to the specific strengths and weaknesses of your and your competitor's offering
  • Customer Service: Identify the critical pain points of your customers around your offerings, service level, return, and refunds.
  • eCommerce: Optimize product listings to changing tastes and competitive pressures 
  • Strategy: Know the ins and outs of your entire industry, by the competitor and by specific offering (SKU)


As far as I see it, the end goal of any brand's digital transformation is to allow each department or role a tailored market read per their specific needs in high granularity and in real-time. Collecting and analyzing user-generated content is an excellent way to start this transformation as most of this data is publicly available.


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