User-generated content (UGC) — any kind of text, audio, image or video content created by consumers and uploaded on a variety of online media platforms — has emerged as another source of valuable information about consumers. Currently social media is the big wave. Facebook fan pages, such as the Coca-Cola page, which was created by a couple of Coke fans, generate huge volume of on-page engagement. Conversations of this nature on the net provide a rich source of content about consumers’ perceptions, feelings and thoughts.
UGC has many applications in marketing. It aids ideation during new product development and provides an understanding of brand imagery. Consumers’ advocacy of a brand reveals their feelings about it, giving us an inkling of the equity of the brand. There are undoubtedly many ways that we may use UGC for research purposes; and as the applications continue to grow, some clarity on the extent to which we may rely on this new media for accurate insights on our brands is desirable. We need to understand the ways it can support, complement or displace conventional quantitative and qualitative research.
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