The Evolution of Shopping Visuals
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The Evolution of Shopping Visuals

Photo by:   Cesar Luckie
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By Cesar Luckie - Getty Images & iStock
Country Manager Mexico


It’s that time of year again – holiday shopping season is upon us. Searches for “Black Friday” (+72 percent) and “Cyber Monday” have risen year-over-year, meaning that our customers are eager to capitalize on the return to in-person shopping and gift-giving in the wake of the pandemic. However, our VisualGPS, Getty Images and iStock creative and visual research platform, found that this year, 7 in 10 Mexican consumers are concerned about inflation and the increased cost of living; what’s more, 8 in 10 like when brands acknowledge the challenges they face. So, when it comes to visualizing the shopping experience this year and ahead of 2023, how can big corporations and startups navigate the current evolution shopping visuals are going through? 

The fact is that as shopping habits have evolved, so have popular visual tropes that represent shopping. However, even when varying from industry to industry, consumers’ pains are very much consistent. 

For retail and e-commerce, the evolution has been rapid and impactful. In 2022, post-pandemic, we saw the influence of online shopping: visuals showing e-commerce shopping at home, with more detail visible on device screens; shopping bags have largely been replaced by cardboard delivery boxes and reusable bags; small-business owners are now also seen at home, packing their items to ship. 

However, in light of inflation, it’s important to remember that, according to RetailDive, consumers are now shopping in person to avoid shipping costs (especially for groceries), buying more in one trip (think bulk purchases), and even just as a reason to get out of the house. Even as e-commerce continues to grow, America Retail predicts that 73 percent of Mexican consumers will lean toward in-store shopping and this modality will have a significant bounceback. So, when visualizing shopping now, in-person scenarios are still important, but consider contemporary touches, such as showing a person using their smartphone to compare items in-store.

While CGI-overlays of magical data flowing out of computers and smartphones have been popular ways to demonstrate tech’s capabilities and convenience, this year, our customers also appear to be interested in more 3D, experimental representations of online shopping, likely inspired by the idea of virtual reality and other much-hyped nascent technologies. Through VisualGPS, we found out that globally, consumers are divided over understanding of and interest in the metaverse and other emerging technologies like cryptocurrency, but whether or not brands are buying into the hype, it is definitely beginning to influence the way that computer-human interaction is seen in visual culture. 

To cut through the noise, when choosing visuals for social media ads, consider the fact that 7 in 10 consumers around the world say that with so many aspects life feeling serious right now, they want to lighten the mood now more than ever, and 8 in 10 are now turning to social media to smile or laugh. So, choosing visuals that embrace emerging technology and shopping experiences in a playful or even surreal way are likely to catch the consumer’s eye and blend in with the social media landscape.

Additionally, we’re seeing the influence of social movements in popular shopping visuals used by our global customers. Historically, popular shopping visuals have overwhelmingly shown women at the grocery store, clothing boutiques, or with shopping bags on the go. This year, we’re beginning to see more men shopping in these settings, as well as online — this not only better reflects reality, but also tracks with the global phenomenon of men spending more than women on non-essential goods in 2021, according to data from JungleScout. So, be sure to include men, even single men, in all types of shopping scenarios, from grocery to retail.

From a very different industry, automotive for example, in 2022, the most popular visuals among our auto customers show electric vehicles charging, road trips in nature, and generally feature sustainable themes.

As electric vehicles become more available and recognizable, auto companies can choose a wider variety of visuals that demonstrate the design and operation of electric cars, which will still be recognizable to most consumers. Examples include visuals that show cars driven  in nature without a visible exhaust pipe, the usability of battery charging systems in everyday life, or mechanics working on EVs. Also, through VisualGPS, we’ve learned that traditional media sources, led by TV ads, remain the top way that auto consumers find out about a product. Finally, customer use of video has been steadily increasing over the past five years. For marketers and designers who may not be using video in their marketing campaigns already, Getty Images offers a wide selection of video clips, many of which are similar to our high-quality stills. We have a number of clips that are similar to our best still images, not to mention backgrounds and loopable designs, which can easily be integrated into social media campaigns.

Photo by:   Cesar Luckie

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