How E-Commerce Retailers Use Lifestyle Photography to Generate Brand Value

Previously the exclusive tool of the world’s largest luxury brands, lifestyle photography has become the obsession of the Internet generation. The availability of high quality camera and image editing technology made this style a dominating element of digital marketing campaigns, which now can be harnessed by the e-commerce store owner.

Lifestyle vs. Product

Almost every online retailer with an e-commerce store selling physical products is deeply familiar with product photography. The need to accurately show consumers the product being sold is an integral part of the online shopping experience – without it, most Internet retailers of this kind could not exist.

Product photos favor clinical detail over showiness and pizzazz. Typically, they feature the product in question over a neutral or full white background. Alternately, they can feature the product in an attractive setting that speaks to the brand’s value proposition.

Lifestyle photos, however, are all about telling stories. These are the photos that not only describe what the vendor is selling, but also showing what kind of customer buys the product being sold. That extra layer of meaning is what makes all the difference in the world of online shopping.

How Lookbooks Work in the Context of E-commerce

The storytelling element that separates lifestyle photography from generic product photos is what gives it its unique power. Fashion designers have been using this type of photography for decades – incorporating narratives into fashion photography fashion statements called lookbooks for decades.

A lookbook is a collection of images showing an ensemble of products grouped together. Typically, they involve models and take place in exotic locations. Ideal for fashion editorials, they use photographs to illustrate the lifestyle a product’s consumer desires.

In the Internet-era, fashion is not the only industry that can benefit from a lookbook. Nearly any physical product retailer can use this medium to describe the type of customer it serves. That includes tech start-ups and kitchenware designers to furniture sellers and hygiene product manufacturers.

The lookbook gives consumers the information they need to distinguish between the products they would shop for and the ones that simply don’t interest them. It is a highly visual marketing tool that uses an environment, model, and narrative to describe the person who would buy the main product being advertised.

Use Lookbooks to Sell Online Products

By appealing to consumer emotion and imagination through lookbooks, online retailers can develop loyal brand followings. Social media users – especially on Pinterest – interact with and share lookbook content far more often than regular product photos.

Any product that addresses the need of a specific demographic can benefit from using lifestyle photography to drive home its value in the eyes of consumers. The more specific the demographic, the greater the potential benefits of incorporating lookbook photography on the website.

Follow these steps to make the most of your lifestyle photography campaign:

Step One: Use Demographics to Tell Stories

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Lifestyle photography needs to tell a story. Find out how customers find your products and what they do with those products to determine the personality of the customer. Once you hone in on a specific customer lifestyle demographic, you can create a story that matches.

In many cases, stories can come from real customers. This is the case for products that meet specific needs, such as sports equipment or technology products. Regardless of where the narrative comes from, it needs to address the specific demographic that the product targets.

Step Two: Don’t Skimp on Photography

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Since lifestyle photography has a completely different goal than product photography, it requires a different set of conditions for successful execution. Not only do e-commerce merchants need to hire a professional photographer, but they must also consider the location of the shoot and the specific model or models hired.

Good lighting and a professional make-up artist can mean the difference between a magazine editorial-quality shoot and a generic no-name lookbook. Faces tell stories and drive engagement on Instagram – and they’ll make or break your lifestyle campaign’s success.

Step Three: Ensure Website Compatibility

The simplest way to use high quality lookbook photos is by posting them on social media. If your website has a blog, you’re encouraged to ensure that it is compatible with the imagery in question.

For instance, if your website is based on BigCommerce, you can choose from a broad range of themes that support lookbook imagery. Themes are customizable templates that can profoundly change the look and feel of your site. The theme Lookbook lets e-commerce retailers tell their customers a story through mosaic-styled imagery.

However, the most enterprising online retailers take product photography a step further by offering user interactivity – custom-coded lookbook photography can be designed to link website visitors to specific product pages when they click on the products featured. The fact that lookbooks combine products from different sources offers opportunities for valuable cross-promotion, as well.