What Motivates Customers to Contribute UGC? Exclusivity, Sampling and Community

Brands know that user-generated content (UGC) — ratings, reviews, and consumers submitting video, imagery and Q&A content — are effective tools for maximizing conversions and sales — but how do you motivate and cultivate these kinds of consumer advocacy?

PowerReviews surveyed more than 10,000 consumers to uncover the psychology and motivations behind product reviewers across four generations: Boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z. The online survey, which took place in October 2020, polled active shoppers across the United States who have opted in to offers and discounts from retailers. More than half (52%) of the survey panel submits an online review at least once per month, and 89% said they do so at least every six months, showing that they are a group that’s highly engaged with ratings and reviews. Here are seven key takeaways from this UGC-friendly group. Following will be best practices for cultivating increased consumer advocacy:

  1. These shoppers like sharing good news. A positive experience earns a product rating and review from 91% of consumers surveyed, while a negative experience will motivate 76% of consumers to share their experience.
  2. First impressions must delight from day one. Reviewers said their overall product experience must be great right from the very first use. A majority of respondents (76%) — and 83% of Gen Z’ers — leave a review within the first week of receiving an item. One-third of consumers said they’d post a review after only using a product one time.
  3. Younger reviewers are more prolific. Some 56% of Gen Z’ers submit reviews more than once per month, compared to 47% of Boomers.
  4. Free samples and fraternal feelings. Free samples are a critical motivating factor for 86% of respondents, while incentives (reward points, discounts, etc.) are important for 76%. However, reviewers also have a benevolent side: 67% said “helping and guiding others” was a key motivation, and “helping a brand improve a product” was cited by 65%. Younger respondents — 77% of the Gen Z’ers polled – were significantly more motivated to provide reviews for the purpose of helping others than older respondents were.
  5. The lure of exclusivity. Some 85% of respondents said receiving a product before it’s available to the general public incentivized them to post a product rating and review. Coincidentally, 86% said they would be more likely to submit a rating and review for a product with low review volumes. This may indicate reviewers feel a sense of duty to provide feedback for the betterment of the consumer collective.
  6. Community feelings motivate responses to queries. Of those surveyed, 77% said a “desire to help and guide others” was the biggest motivator to provide answers to questions posed by other customers online. “Having a positive product experience” and “having a disappointing product experience” were the motivations behind 73% and 60% of those polled, respectively.
  7. Tips for eliciting rich media UGC. Free samples and incentives had the greatest influence on posting of images and videos as part of reviews. Younger consumers are more motivated by this prospect: some 80% of millennials cited free samples as a winning incentive to drive them to post a video with their review, while 40% of Gen Z consumers said they were motivated by the chance their image might be subsequently shared on a brand’s website.

Consumer Advocacy Strategies and Best Practices

“With an understanding of reviewer motivations, brands can devise winning strategies to win over their advocacy and generate more user engagement and ratings and reviews,” said Andrew Smith, VP of Marketing for PowerReviews in a statement.

Smith recommended the following best practices:


  • Adapt user-generated content collection strategies according to age demographics: Different generations have slightly different preferences and motivations for providing user-generated content. Consider tailoring outreach strategies and approaches for greater alignment and improved results.
  • Send out free samples as a review generation mechanism: This is clearly the most effective method for quickly generating ratings and reviews for a particular product. Encourage consumers to provide imagery and video in their reviews.
  • Incorporate user-generated content throughout marketing initiatives: This creates more buyer confidence, generating more conversions and sales, and influencing customers to submit more ratings and reviews. Target younger demographics to provide video and imagery with contest-style invitations focused on including their content in corporate brand marketing.
  • Leverage user-generated content as a valuable customer feedback source to improve your business: Above and beyond its obvious conversion power, brands should also leverage the analytics value of this content. It’s a highly valuable form of customer feedback that can drive improvements in products, customer experience, and overall marketing and messaging efforts.

View the full survey results here.

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