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User Generated Content by brands – Is the trend here to stay?

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While brands across the spectrum leverage the trend during lockdown for reach and engagement, experts back it on grounds of better ROI

The pandemic has pushed brands for alternative solutions for reach and engagement. With suspended video production due to lockdown and social distancing, User Generated Content (UGC) has once again caught the attention of brands. UGC has connected the chord of human connect in the lockdown gloom. Local content has been enjoying greater prominence due to UGC strategy being adopted by brands across domains.

Amplification of UGC amid pandemic

UGC as a concept disrupted the marketing paradigm long ago; the pandemic just amplified the already present strategy. Brands have been utilizing it for better reach, engagement and better ROI at a low cost of production. Hence, reducing the financial stress in these unprecedented times. Tanya Chaudhary, a communications specialist, resonated with the above fact. She said, “The overall impact of the pandemic has been overwhelming for the majority of the brands. As a result, they have proportionated their spends — both in time and budget — in the marketing strategy. UGC as a tool helps brands achieve better ROI by delivering a high level of engagement. It allows them to create human connections and a sense of community. Consumers feel one with the brand. A very exciting UGC campaign was that of Kellogg’s #PassTheBowl that resounded well with the audience.”

With professional content off shelves, UGC has given brands the right kind of push required at the time. Meticulously using the much-hyped digital way of communication, UGC has given brands the required mileage. Amarjeet Thakur- Sr AVP- Marketing and Communication, Mirum (A WPP Company), drew attention towards their client Ford. He said, “Communication strategy for most brands has been similar — be caring and socially responsible. For our client Ford India, under campaign #ParkedForSafety, we conducted daily virtual drives on Instagram stories where the location was decided by us, but the location pictures were UGC provided by our followers.” He also specified: “Brands who have stayed in touch with their consumers will be off the blocks faster post lockdown”.

Takeaways from popular brand campaigns

Let us have a look at how popular brand used the communication strategy to stay afloat in the testing times:

Mondelez India’s #AtHomewithOreo campaign

The #AtHomewithOreo garnered 249 million impressions and 29 million video views. From a UGC perspective, the brand started posting recipes shared by supporters on their Facebook and Instagram handles. About 15 UGC recipes have been posted till now. On FB alone, these UGC posts have garnered a cumulative organic reach of 400k people.

According to Sudhanshu Nagpal, Associate Director – Marketing (Biscuits), Mondelez India,” As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we realised how the new normal was taking a toll on people’s lives amidst the pandemic gloom. This led to the campaign #AtHomewithOreo where the aim was to bring families closer through playful moments, a philosophy that is deeply instilled with our brand OREO, and which could be done most effectively through UGC. “

He added, “To infuse a sense of normalcy with some indoor fun with consumer’s favourite cookie, the campaign has been activated on the themes of home game, home art, and home recipes, which were devised to provide consumers avenues to keep their innovative sparks alive while sharing their playful experiences online. Home recipes, in particular, have gained momentum owing to the increased in-home snacking where consumers are creating new eat experiences at home and sharing them online. This leads to the creation of a pool of unconventional and delicious Oreo recipes to leverage and motivate other consumers to tap into their culinary skills. Hence, this exercise helped us deepen our consumer relationships more effectively by generating a platform for shared experiences.”

Uber’s  #SafeForEachOther campaign

#SaferForEachOther, aims to underscore that safety too can spread if each rider sanitises their hands, wears a mask and doesn’t travel when sick, thereby making the entire platform safer for the next rider. The campaign highlights ‘self-care spreads safety’, and that riders can start a chain reaction whereby each rider makes the platform safer for the next one boarding the car.

Sanjay Gupta, Global Brand Director, Uber India SA said, “At Uber, we are reimagining the way the world can move forward for the better. We have stepped up safety standards on our platform for riders and drivers by launching a comprehensive set of measures. However, accountability is the key and all of us, Uber, the driver and the rider, have a critical role to play in keeping each other safe.” He highlighted the fact that this will be a digital-first campaign. He added, “We will focus on reaching our riders, leveraging a mix of efficient and impact media, including our owned media channels, digital and traditional media. We aim to build a shared view on safety, where riders care about their safety and take all the recommended safety precautions to keep themselves safe, thereby ensuring the safety of the driver and the next rider as well.”

“KFC Home Kitchen” campaign

The brand’s unique offerings were taken and offered both customers and some of KFC’s own teams a chance to explore their creative side.

Moksh Chopra, Chief Marketing Officer, KFC India said, The insight behind Home Kitchen was that nearly everybody was having a ‘kitchen moment’ during the lockdown. Inspired by Colonel Sanders, our brand has always stood for creativity and originality. We realised we could enable creativity in a way that’s both easy and fun – combining our chicken and your kitchen.” He added with joy, “There were some fabulous dishes created using KFC signatures like Popcorn chicken, boneless strips and others. A KFC Insta Noodles recipe, Chicken Stroganoff, a Crispy chicken sandwich and an amazing Chicken Shepherd’s Pie; to name a few. I was blown away by some of these ideas and in fact, I was discussing with my team that some of these creations may have made the Colonel proud! Who knows – they make it to our menu one day!”

“The campaign gave us excellent result in terms of engagement as we gave our consumers a direct chance to communicate with us. Such campaigns help us strengthen and develop a consumer-brand relationship,” further added Chopra.

How brands are benefiting from such strategies in reaching their target audience? Is it a trend to stay or just a timely move? 

The most lucrative aspect of UGC is its ability to go viral easily. It also helps in the amalgamation of local content with global reach. Experts suggest of such marketing strategies popping up at different points in times to cater to the specific needs of brands and consumers. UGC too will serve the purpose and is a trend expected to grow further. Tanya Chaudhary concludes by admitting that UGC continue to drive engagement and brand salience while urging brands to remain agile to develop strategies best suited at that point of time.

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Nafisa Shaheen

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