Lifestyle Photos: What Ecommerce Brands Must Know To Increase Sales

Wednesday Jan 15th, 2020

Lifestyle Photography

By: Jillian Salamon

ApexDrop Influence Marketing

From social posts to product pages, you need hundreds (if not thousands) of images to drive consumers to your shopping site and help them complete a purchase. Shoppers need more than images of your merchandise on a plain white background. They want and need to see your products in context. That means real people, doing real things, in real places. Without these photos, chances are good you are missing out on sales.

When it comes to eCommerce, there are two types of photography:

  1. Product photography
  2. Lifestyle photography

Brands use product photography to visually present an item accurately. Online shoppers expect a clear, close-up product shot. In fact, third-party sellers such as Amazon and require a basic product shot. Though a necessary element of the online shopping experience, it lacks the energy, influence, and sales-boosting information of lifestyle photography.  

So if you’re looking to increase your brand’s appeal and influence while maximizing ROI, let’s take a look at what lifestyle photography is and why it matters to the future of your company.

What is Lifestyle Photography?

Lifestyle photos show a product being used by real people in real life situations. Picture a child opening his or her first Christmas present. A woman cracking open a hard spritzer on a hot day. A man wrapping up his last set of reps at the gym.

These are the “real life” moments that capture a brand in its natural element and environment. 

Unlike product photography, where the core mission is to showcase product detail, lifestyle photography is about telling a story, inspiring people, and answering questions about the product, who uses it and where it is used.

Mommy blogger/influencer with baby

Lifestyle photography is often categorized into two categories based on how it can be reused for marketing purposes other than product shots:

  • Polished photos 
  • Candid photos 

What are Polished Photos?

Polished photos are those near-perfect shots. They’ve been staged, lit, shot from multiple angles, and most likely edited with software. They’re captivating, professional-grade, and akin to portrait photography in the way that they are more perfect than what a candid “first shot” might be.

Female micro-influencer wearing a winter hat
What are Candid Photos?

Unlike polished photos, candid photos are snapped and posted. From the setting to the subject, candid photos are relatable and trusted. What they lack in polish they make up for with accessibility.

Now, let’s not confuse candidness with “poor quality.” Lighting and composition are still critical. Simply put: candid photos are real—real people, real locations, real moments.

Example of a candid influencer lifestyle photo

Today’s millennials, who have grown up in a digital world, actually seek out lifestyle photos to learn more about a product before they purchase. When eCommerce sites don’t provide these lifestyle photos, millennials often leave the site to gather social proof and additional information about the product prior to purchase.  

There is no doubt that both polished and candid photos bring value to your brand. When added to eCommerce sites, both polished and candid photos can be valuable in converting browsers into buyers.

Where to Get Lifestyle Photography

Lifestyle photography is incredibly effective, but can be expensive and resource-intensive to produce in-house. The traditional source of lifestyle photography is a professional photographer with paid models. Today, many brands are using content creators to produce their lifestyle content, so let’s compare the two sources.

Professional Photography

A freelance photographer (averaging $175 per hour), an art director (averaging $47 per hour), and a three-hour photoshoot with three to four models (each averaging $65/hour) would set you back about $1,251, not including the time and resources it would take to scout locations and script out the staging of the photo. 

Content Creators

Content creators, also known as influencers, are an affordable alternative way to generate real-world lifestyle content. 

What’s more, through trade collaborations, where products are gifted to influencers in exchange for content, brands are acquiring volumes of lifestyle photos. This strategy works well for brands with products (rather than services) with a retail price point no greater than $300. While there are no hard rules on what kinds of businesses can use this lifestyle photography, these guidelines exist based on our experience and success with previous campaigns.

Apex’s Lifestyle Photography program helps brands tap into a network of premium content creators with the resources of a fully-managed campaign. ApexDrop manages the entire process for $100 a photo (plus a one-time onboarding fee).Content Creators

For that same cost as the professional photo shoot (i.e., $1,200) a brand working with ApexDrop could gain images from 12 different influencers, save hours in planning, and improve the diversity of their marketing content. In fact, by tapping into a widely diverse network of content creators, you can make inclusion a cornerstone of your brand’s marketing efforts.

Unlike product photography, which can fail because it isolates the product from the people who use it, lifestyle photography captures real people interacting with your product. We’ve found that 75-90% of the performance of an ad is based on the images you use. Ultimately, the right photo with the right content creator can spark the imagination of your consumers and inspire them to take action.

Why Use Content Creators?

Your marketing is simply going to work better with lifestyle photography if it’s visually captivating. Need proof? A recent ApexDrop study found that shoppers exposed to ApexInfluencer™ content on an eCommerce site were 187% more likely to purchase than shoppers not exposed to lifestyle content. And when they did purchase, average order values were 17% higher than shoppers who were not exposed to lifestyle content. 

Why the boost in sales? Content creators not only add context to your products, but they also help promote a level of trust in your brand that can only be obtained through authentic and genuine real-life imagery.

ApexDrop Lifestyle Photo Impact Study

Lifestyle content also answers questions about the product itself, thereby improving the shoppers' experience.  For instance, imagine trying to buy a ladies skirt online. The product shot can get you in the right ballpark of color and shape. But then, you may still wonder about the length of the skirt, the fit on someone like yourself, how to style the skirt, and where to even wear it. These questions can be answered through a series of lifestyle photos. 

ApexDrop also found that time on site increased by a whopping 288% when eCommerce sites included ApexDrop’s lifestyle photos. More time on site means more time to discover products and more conversion opportunities.

How to Leverage Lifestyle Photography

Lifestyle photography has emerged as a way to improve the online shopper experience and thereby increase sales.

When people shop, context is critical. Shoppers benefit by seeing how others have used a product. In addition to shopping sites, lifestyle content should be used for:

  • Email newsletters
  • Event flyers
  • Google display and shopping ads
  • Guest blog posts
  • Lookbooks
  • Print ads
  • Social content
  • Website content

*For a comprehensive look at how to get the most value from lifestyle content, check out this piece: How to Leverage Influencer Content to Maximize Your Campaign Value.

Value, Authenticity & Scale

If you’re looking for the intersection of value and authenticity, lifestyle photography is it. With our curated network of influencers, you can gain the visual edge your brand needs  to boost sales.

ApexDrop works with brands in all business phases and sizes to help them grow and engage audiences with lifestyle photography. Whether you sell direct-to-consumer or through a third-party site like Amazon or Shopify, you can benefit from lifestyle content. To learn more about how we can help, schedule a quick chat with a brand strategist today.

About the Author

Jillian ApexDropJillian Salamon is the Vice-President of Campaign Development at ApexDrop. Her team is dedicated to connecting brands with the most relevant and authentic influencers to meet brand campaign goals. Jillian is the mother of two and an avid (albeit amateur) sailor. You will find her on Lake Erie spending most of the summer volunteering aboard the USS Brig Niagara or on the bow as part of a J-35 race fleet crew.