Industry veteran Joe Henson joins User-Generated Content vendor from Label Insight to spearhead product innovation.

JULY 22, 2021—CHICAGO— PowerReviews today announces the appointment of retail industry and martech veteran Joe Henson to head up its technology and product teams.

Henson brings with him 25 years experience of in scaling technology and product teams in retail, marketing, and technology businesses. He most recently served as CTO of Label Insight, which he helped scale before it was acquired by NielsenIQ earlier this year. Prior to that, he held executive positions at Triad Retail Media, Catalina Marketing, and Q Interactive.

Henson will serve on the PowerReviews Executive Leadership Team in his position of Chief Product and Technology Officer after officially joining the company last month.

“I am truly honored to be given the responsibility to steer the future direction of PowerReviews from a technology and product perspective,” said Henson. “I know from my experience – both professional and personal – all about the importance of user-generated content in converting browsers to buyers so this is an extremely exciting opportunity. I can’t wait to start developing products for our customers.”

“During our search, we spoke to some of the best technology leaders in Chicago and beyond and we are so happy to have secured Joe,” said Mark Dillon, CEO of PowerReviews. “Joe brings with him a unique combination of martech and retail-specific experience and knowledge that instantly made him stand out as the best possible candidate.”

“I am so excited to see how the PowerReviews product suite evolves under his leadership and the solutions he develops for our customers.”

PowerReviews is actively hiring for a number of roles under Henson’s leadership and is accepting applications on its website.

PowerReviews ( is a conversion-first UGC vendor obsessed with helping brands and retailers grow their businesses. PowerReviews enables these organizations to generate better quality customer product ratings and reviews in larger volumes and then analyze and benchmark all this data to optimize their UGC programs for conversion while improving product quality and customer experience.
PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA.

Media Contact
Andy Smith
VP, Marketing

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Consumers ready to get back to stores after pandemic

Survey at a Glance:

  • Over 70% of consumers have no concerns about returning to in-store shopping, a 2.4x increase from our September 2020 holiday data.

  • The top three measures retailers can implement to make shoppers feel more comfortable shopping in-store include frequent sterilization of store premises, curbside pickup, and requiring associates to wear masks.

  • Younger consumers expressed a stronger preference for BOPIS, curbside pickup, and contactless payment options.

  • 64% of shoppers said a negative in-store experience would prevent them from shopping with a retailer again in the future.

  • 84% of shoppers would feel a moderately or significantly stronger affinity for a retailer if asked to participate in a secret shopper mission to improve their customer experience.

We all know that ecommerce skyrocketed in 2020, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Forrester reported gains of 30% year over year for ecommerce sales.

With this backdrop on top of clear and consistent year-on-year ecommerce growth the norm prior to the pandemic, it’s hard to forget just how dominant the store was and continues to be in US retail.

So what’s the long-term outlook for brick and mortar retail? Healthier than ever, also according to Forrester. The market research firm predicts in-store shopping will continue to dominate retail, accounting for 72% of all sales in 2024.

To capture their slice of the sales, retailers must provide an in-store experience that makes customers feel safe and valued. The pandemic introduced several changes to the in-store experience, many of which shoppers would like to continue.

To help retailers succeed, we surveyed 7,668 shoppers from age 18 to 80 to see how they really feel about going back to the store — and what retailers can do to earn their loyalty, and their dollars.

Are Consumers Ready to Return to In-Store Shopping?
The Data Says Yes.

In a stark reversal from our Holiday Consumer Survey from September 2020, when only 30% of shoppers were comfortable shopping in-store, 71% of consumers now say they have no concerns about shopping in-store. That’s more than a 2x increase!

Comfort Levels Regarding In-Store Shopping
Are you concerned about shopping in-store due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
September 2020
June 2021

Across generations, Americans are ready to shop in-store again. There were more regional differences, however, with Midwest shoppers being the most eager to return to in-store shopping (75%) and Northeast shoppers being the least eager (67%).

Top 5 States Most Concerned
Vermont 56%
Washington, D.C. 50%
Hawaii 50%
Connecticut 43%
Rhode Island 43%
Top 5 States Least Concerned
Montana 100%
South Dakota 85%
Utah 82%
Colorado 82%
Missouri 81%

What Can Retailers Do to Make Shoppers Feel More Comfortable In-Store?

When asked what measures retailers needed to take to make them feel safe to return to shopping in store, 44% of shoppers said none are necessary (i.e. that they feel comfortable shopping in a typical pre-pandemic store environment without any safety measures).

For these shoppers, there’s nothing a retailer needs to do to convince them to return in-store – from a safety perspective at least. However, that still means over half (56%) of your customers would prefer you take at least some measures to ensure their safety and comfort. 

What are those measures, exactly? The top three most requested measures include frequent sterilization of store premises, curbside pickup, and associates wearing masks.

We asked consumers about these same measures in our Holiday Survey from September 2020. Across the board, all of these measures are less critical to consumers today. The biggest changes were in regards to measures for other customers. Today, only 25% of consumers still want retailers to restrict the number of customers in-store, a drop of 55% from last year’s survey.  And only 38% expect other customers to be required to wear masks, a drop of 43% from last year’s survey.

COVID-19 Safety Measures Are Less Critical to Consumers Today
COVID-19 Safety Measures Are Less Critical to Consumers Today
Frequent sterilization of store premises
Sept 2020 63%
19% Decrease
June 2021 51%
Curbside Pickup
Sept 2020 67%
37% Decrease
June 2021 42%
Associates being required to wear masks
Sept 2020 64%
38% Decrease
June 2021 40%
Other customers being required to wear masks
Sept 2020 67%
43% Decrease
June 2021 38%
Contactless payment
Sept 2020 45%
31% Decrease
June 2021 31%
Restricting number of customers allowed in store at any one time
Sept 2020 56%
55% Decrease
June 2021 25%

In-Store Shopping Preferences by Generation

At 47%, Gen Xers were the most likely to say they feel completely safe returning to in-store shopping, while Boomers, at 41%, were the least likely.

Generational Preferences for Safety Measures
Are some safety measures necessary for you to shop in-store?
Gen X
Gen Z

There’s a clear trend between consumer age and prefered safety measures, with younger consumers expressing a stronger interest in contact-free pickup options like Curbside Pickup and Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS). For example, Millennials were 42% more likely to express interest in curbside pickup than Boomers, and more than 50% likely (53%) to express interest in BOPIS than Boomers.

Younger Consumers Have a Stronger Preference for Curbside Pickup & BOPIS
Curbside Pickup
Boomers 33%
Gen X 38%
Millennials 47%
Gen Z 42%
Overall 42%
Boomers 25%
Gen X 28%
Millennials 37%
Gen Z 36%
Overall 33%

Mask Up, Say Gen Z Consumers

Across generations, Gen Zers were most in favor of mask wearing, by both store associates and other customers. Gen Xers, on the other hand, were the least concerned about masks. Over 50% of Gen Zers want other customers to keep their masks on, making them 34% more likely than the overall average and 50% more likely than Gen Xers. Nearly half (48%) of Gen Zers would also like store associates to wear masks.

Most Requested In-Store Safety Measures by Generation
Most Requested In-Store Safety Measures by Generation
Frequent sterilization 51%
Associates wear masks 46%
Overall 42%
Gen X
Frequent sterilization 47%
Curbside Pickup 38%
Associates wear masks 35%
Frequent sterilization 52%
Curbside Pickup 47%
Associates wear masks 42%
Gen Z
Frequent sterilization 51%
Other customers wear masks 51%
Associates wear masks 48%

Contactless Payment a Hit With Millennials

Millennials were the biggest fans of contactless payment options, with 33% expressing interest, compared with 29% of Gen Xers, 29% of Boomers, and only 24% of Gen Zers. 

However, it is important to note that the preference for contactless payment may be a reflection of the overall shift towards convenient, frictionless, tech-enabled retail solutions. The safety concerns of the pandemic may have simply accelerated this trend.

Consumer Demand for BOPIS and Curbside Pickup Continues to Increase

What else can retailers do to bring shoppers back in-store? Offer flexible, convenient pickup options. 

A clear majority of shoppers said that services like BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) and curbside pickup made them more likely to visit a store.

Consumer Demand for BOPIS and Curbside Pickup On the Rise
Do services such as BOPIS or Curbside Pickup make you more likely to visit a store?

As we mentioned earlier, BOPIS and Curbside Pickup had the greatest pull for Millennials, with two in three (63%) of these shoppers expressing interest in these services, compared with only 39% of Boomers. However, considering that Millennials and Gen Z are poised to represent the majority of consumers in the very near future, retailers should take appropriate steps now to ensure they’re offering the services these shoppers demand.

Demand for BOPIS and Curbside Pickup (By Generation)
Do services such as BOPIS or Curbside Pickup make you more likely to visit a store?
Gen X
Gen Z

BOPIS and Curbside Pickup services were also more attractive to higher income shoppers, with 63% of those making $100K or more saying it would make them more likely to visit a store, compared with only 49% of those making $25K or less. 

Providing a Positive In-Store Experience: The Stakes Are High

What’s at stake if you don’t provide a positive in-store shopping experience? Losing a customer.

Overall, 64% of consumers said a negative in-store experience was enough to stop them shopping with a retailer again.

Impact of Negative Experiences on Future Shopping
Has a negative in-store shopping experience ever prevented you from shopping with that retailer again in the future?

Millennials and higher-income shoppers were the most likely to stop shopping at a retailer altogether  if they had a negative in-store experience.

At 66%, Millennials were the most likely to stop shopping at a retailer in the future if they had a negative in-store experience, followed by Gen Xers at 64%.

Impact of Negative Experiences on Future Shopping (By Generation)
Has a negative in-store shopping experience ever prevented you from shopping with that retailer again in the future?
Gen X
Gen Z

Higher household incomes also correlated with an increased demand for positive store experiences. Shoppers with the highest household incomes were the most likely to stop shopping at a retailer if they had a negative in-store experience. This may be explained by the fact that many retailers who cater to a demographic with higher household incomes are more likely to have a value proposition focused on providing a premium customer service experience. If these retailers fail to deliver on that promise, they could lose the shopper entirely.

Impact of Negative Experiences on Future Shopping (By Household Income Level)
Percentage of respondents who said negative experience would stop them shopping with that retailer again by household income
Under $25,000 55%
$26,000-$50,000 62%
$51,000-$75,000 66%
$76,000-$100,000 66%
Over $100,000 69%

Customer Feedback Helps Retailers Stay Ahead in an Ever Evolving Post-COVID Landscape

Retailers need to know their shoppers’ preferences in order to succeed. Regularly collecting customer feedback is a retailer’s best tool for staying on top of consumer demand and competing in a crowded retail landscape.

The good news is customers love it when you ask for their feedback! The vast majority of shoppers (88%) agree that when a retailer asks them to provide feedback, it positively impacts their perception of the retailer. 

Specifically, when a retailer asks for feedback on the shopping experience, shoppers say:

It shows that the retailer cares about their customers and customer experience.
It makes them feel valued.
It makes them more likely to shop with that retailer in the future.
It proves the retailer can be trusted to have their best interests in mind.

At 79%, Boomers were the most likely to say a request for feedback shows that the retailer cares about their customers and their experience. It’s worth noting that even the generation that felt the least strongly about this — Gen Zers, at 70% — had an overwhelming majority say  it showed a retailer cares about their customers and experience.

Mystery Shoppers: A Retailer’s Secret Weapon

Clearly, consumers appreciate being asked for feedback. And according to our data, many of them are willing to do much more than answer a simple survey. Not only did a majority of consumers express a strong interest in being “secret shoppers” for a retailer, they said it would actually improve their perception of that retailer.

84% of shoppers would feel a moderately or significantly stronger affinity for a retailer if asked to participate in a secret shopper mission to improve their customer experience. Less than 2% would feel more negatively towards that retailer.

Affinity for Stores with Secret Shopper Missions
If a retailer you shop with frequently invited you to participate in a secret shopper-style “mission” to help them improve their customer experience, you would:

Secret shopper-style missions have a greater impact on younger generations, particularly Millennials. Millennials and Gen Zers were both significantly more likely to say they would feel a significantly or moderately stronger affinity for a retailer if asked to participate in such a mission.  

However, even if you currently cater to a primarily more senior audience, asking for feedback won’t hurt. While only 47% of Boomers said it would make them feel a significantly stronger affinity, those who didn’t feel significantly stronger were most likely to say it would have no impact on their feelings towards a retailer. In other words, there is little to no downside to asking for their feedback, and doing so has the potential to strengthen the loyalty of almost 50% of your shoppers.

Your Customers Are Ready to Be Back In Stores.
Are You Prepared to Have Them?

Consumer shopping preferences are always changing. The COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated the latest set of changes. Whether it’s adapting to the preferences of different generations, or different household incomes, retailers must actively solicit feedback from their shoppers to keep them loyal. 

With Store Experience Feedback from PowerReviews, the feedback process is easy. Our secret shopper solution empowers retailers to gather feedback through a gamified shopping experience that strengthens loyalty and drives revenue. Learn more here.

Research Methodology
The PowerReviews 2021 In-Store Shopping Trends & Preferences consumer survey is based on insights from more than 7,500 U.S. consumers in June 2021. Throughout the survey, we defined Boomers as born in the years 1946 to 1964 (aged 57-75 on Jun 1, 2021), Gen X as born in the years 1965 to 1980 (aged 41-56 on Jun 1, 2021), Millennials as born between 1981-1996 (aged 25-40 on Jun 1, 2021) and Gen Zers born in or after 1997 (ages 24 and younger on Jun 1, 2021). Regions were defined by Government census directives.
Power Points:
  • Emails are a key medium for review collection. Between 60% to 90% of all reviews originate from an email request.

  • PowerReviews review request emails have an average open rate 59% higher than ecommerce benchmarks.

  • Retailers can optimize email open rates with stronger subject lines. Pro tips include personalizing subject lines, offering an incentive, and A/B testing.

There’s a direct relationship between review collection and sales. When retailers add reviews to their product pages, they see an instant bump in traffic and sales. In fact, consumers who interact with ratings and reviews convert at 108.4% the rate of those who don’t. This probably isn’t surprising given reviews are such an important part of the purchase consideration process – with 99.9% of consumers now claiming they read them

There are a number of ways retailers can boost their review collection efforts, but none are more powerful, impactful and widely-used as email.

Emails are a key medium for review collection. According to our data, between 60% to 90% of all reviews originate from an email request. After implementing review request emails, one of our customers in the home improvement space saw over a 1,000% increase in review volumes the very next month!

After implementing review request emails, this company's review volumes increased by 1,042% in one month.

If the data tells us anything, it’s that if you send a post-purchase email, a review is good as collected. There’s only one thing standing in your way. Customers have to actually open your email.

A Quick Review of Email Open Rates

According to Mailchimp’s latest benchmarks for 2021, the average email open rate is 21.33% across industries. For ecommerce, it’s 15.68%, and for retail, it’s 18.39%.

There’s good news here. At PowerReviews, our open rates for post-purchase review collection emails are all either in-line, or above, Mailchimp’s benchmarks — suggesting that consumers are even more interested in opening emails that request they share their feedback with a retailer. 

Our overall unique open rate is approximately 25% (which is 17% higher than the average from Mailchimp’s data). Our open rates are 59% higher than Mailchimp’s for ecommerce, and 35% higher for retail. (These figures are based on nearly 175 million emails sent from 600+ merchants, as of June 22, 2021.)

PowerReviews Lift vs. Average Open Rates in Key Business Areas
Any Email
(data from Mailchimp)
Percentage Lift of PowerReviews Benchmarks*
All Industries
1 %
+ 1 %
1 %
+ 1 %
1 %
+ 1 %
*Calculated on average open rate of 25% across all emailed review requests sent via PowerReviews technology

The data tells us consumers want to write reviews. Earlier this year, we surveyed more than 10,000 active shoppers in the U.S. and nine out of ten reported that they write a review at least once every six months. The better news? 91% of those who do, are motivated by a desire to share a particularly positive experience. All retailers need to do is get them to open their email so they have a chance to.

If you want to increase your email open rates, it all comes down to your subject line. It follows, then, that if you want more reviews, you need to optimize your email subject lines. Here are eight dos and don’ts to help you do just that.

5 Email Subject Line Dos

Follow these five email subject line tips to boost your review collection efforts.

1. DO personalize your subject lines when possible

Personalization is the holy grail of retail marketing. Why? Because consumers are much more likely to respond to something that is highly relevant to them. Customers are 29% more likely to open an email personalized to them, according to Mailchimp

Plus, adding the recipient’s name to your subject line helps your email bypass spam filters (since you’re using their name). Next time, try an email subject line like “We want details! How would you rate your recent purchase, [Name]?”

2. DO be descriptive, but keep it short

Shorter is always better in today’s world of short attention spans. No one wants to read a paragraph. Write shorter email subject lines, and you don’t have to worry about your subject line getting cut off. Aim for around 40 characters, or 7 words. 

This best practice is especially important if the majority of your customers read email on a mobile device (as most people do nowadays).

3. DO include a promotion or contest

Predictably, incentive-based emails get the best open rates (who doesn’t want a chance to win free swag?). However, we’d recommend exercising caution when running a review promotion because ISPs sometimes identify these emails as spam. To avoid your email getting marked as spam, try:

  • Testing your email with a smaller set of customers before launching the campaign to everyone.

  • Including the contest language in the email header so it shows up in the preview instead of the subject line.

Don’t worry too much about sounding spammy. If you’ve emailed these shoppers before (which you probably have when you sent their order confirmation emails), their ISP may already recognize you as a trusted sender and send you straight to their inbox anyway.

Here are some of the top-performing email subject lines we’ve seen:

  • Your review is worth $1000!
  • Review and Earn at [your brand]
  • Review and Win!
  • Rate your purchase for a chance to win!
  • Tell us what you think!
  • If you loved it, let us know! 
  • Review Your Purchase and Receive $10 off Your Next Purchase

According to our data, emails with subject lines mentioning a contest or gift also consistently top the list for review completion rate (meaning that customers actually click through and submit a review after opening the email). One of our apparel clients implemented a review sweepstakes for 45 days and saw a 290% increase in collection rates during that time! They now run it sporadically throughout the year and have more than doubled the amount of user-generated content they collect in a year.

4. DO send at the right times

You can craft the most fantastic, intriguing, ultra-optimized email subject line — but your effort will be completely wasted if your customers never see it. Make sure to send your emails at the prime time to optimize both open rates and review completion rates.

When should you send your review request email?

You want to give your customers sufficient time to use the product so they feel comfortable leaving a review, without waiting so long that you’re no longer top of mind. We recommend sending your review request email between 1 to 3 weeks after the customer purchased the product. Here are the benchmarks we found work best for different types of products:

  • Seasonal items: 7 days
  • Soft goods: 14 Days
  • Perishables: 14 Days
  • Hard goods: 21 Days

If customers don’t open your first email, send them a follow up email 6 to 8 days later.

The best time of day to send emails is around 10am, 1pm, and 6pm, according to Hubspot. Those are averages across industries, and across email content. To find the best time to send review request emails for your brand, you can perform A/B testing, which brings us to our last tip.

5. DO consider A/B testing

Remember that your customers are unique. The “average” best practice may not apply to them. In addition to testing different send times, test a couple variations of your email subject lines. Track which subject line drives the best results, and iterate from there.

3 Email Subject Line Don’ts

Avoid these three email subject line mistakes when sending your post-purchase emails.

1. DON'T send from “do-not-reply” email accounts

No-reply email can be a death knell for your email delivery rates. Many ISPs filter emails sent from no-reply addresses as spam. Plus, it provides a frustrating experience for users — and for you. If there’s a problem with your review collection emails, but customers can’t reply, you’ll never know.

Instead, set up a dedicated email address for your review collection efforts, and ensure it’s monitored in case your customers reply.

2. DON'T include other marketing or sales calls-to-action

You know how they say, “Keep it simple, stupid”? The same goes for your emails. Don’t confuse your customers. Keep the call-to-action focused on review collection, and review collection alone — in both your subject lines and the email copy itself.

3. DON'T go crazy with hashtags and punctuation

Too much punctuation can make your subject line look spammy, especially if you use a lot of special characters (e.g. !!! or $). Hashtags (#) can also be flagged by spam. Stick to normal punctuation, and your email will appeal to customers and ISPs alike.

Get inspired with these top-performing email subject lines

Suffering from email writer’s block? When in doubt, rely on what works. These four examples have driven open rates above 40% (that’s a 61% increase over our average open rate) and review completion rates as high as 10% for brands and retailers we work with.

  • “Please review your [] purchase”
  • “We’d love to hear what you think”
  • “Review your recent order!”
  • “Tell us about your new [brand name]”

If we could leave you with one last tip, it’s this. Make the ‘write a review’ action stand out. Make it clear to customers what you’re asking for, and you shall receive!

Alyson Fischer

Alyson Fischer is our Product Marketing Manager, obsessed with using data-driven storytelling to deliver a best-in-class customer experience and inspire dynamic engagement across channels. When she’s not agonizing over writing this bio, you can find her exploring Chicago with her furry sidekick or watching a true crime documentary on Netflix.

The impact of user-generated photos and videos on purchase behavior, based on insights from more than 7,500 U.S. consumers.

Power Points

A growing number of consumers depend on visual content, such as photos and videos, to make informed purchase decisions.
  • Today 100% look for visual content before making a purchase at least sometimes. In 2016, 97% indicated this was the case.

  • 86% of consumers always or regularly seek out photos and videos prior to purchase, compared to 72% in 2016.
Increasingly, consumers seek out photos and videos from other consumers -- and value them more than brand or retailer-supplied visual content.
  • Nearly all (99%) of consumers look for photos and videos submitted from other customers at least occasionally. In 2016, 88% did so.

  • 77% of consumers always or regularly seek out visual content from others who have already purchased a product. This number is even higher among Millennial (84%) and Gen Z (91%) shoppers.

  • 80% of consumers find photos from other customers more valuable than photos from brands or retailers. This is a significant increase from 2016, when 44% indicated they valued user-generated photos more than brand or retailer supplied visual content.
The presence (or absence) of user-generated visuals can make or break a sale.
  • 85% of shoppers are more likely to buy a product that has reviews that include visual content in addition to written text, up from 72% in 2016.

  • Younger shoppers are especially swayed by visual content; 99% of Gen Z shoppers and 89% of Millennials are more likely to purchase products that have reviews that feature photos and videos.

  • A third of Gen Z consumers and nearly a quarter (21%) of Millennials won’t purchase a product if there are no photos or videos from other consumers who have purchased it.
User-generated visual content is valued across myriad product categories.
  • Consumers find user-generated photos and videos helpful when purchasing products across a wide range of categories.

  • The top product categories consumers value user-generated visual content include clothing (78%), electronics (70%), appliances (63%), home and garden (62%) and health and beauty (60%).


We’re Living in a Highly Visual World

Photos and videos have become integral to the lives of modern consumers. Photography and videography — once limited to those with fancy equipment and specialized training — is now accessible to anyone with a mobile phone.

And channels like Instagram provide a platform for these amateur photographers and videographers to publish their content and share their opinions.

Visual Content has Become a Key Component of the Path to Purchase

The proliferation of photos and videos has also transformed shopping behavior. In the past, consumers found inspiration and discovered new products by visiting brick-and-mortar stores. This still happens, but a growing number of consumers now get inspiration by scrolling through their Instagram feeds.

Then, when they’re evaluating whether to buy a product, they look for photos and videos — including those taken by other consumers who have already purchased a product — as they seek to make more informed purchase decisions.

Brands and Retailers Must Provide the Visual Content Consumers Seek

Today’s consumers expect to find plenty of visual content for the products they’re considering. And increasingly, they specifically seek out photos and videos taken by other consumers. If shoppers can’t find what they’re looking for, they’re likely to look elsewhere.  

Brands and retailers must make it a priority to showcase both professional photos and videos, as well as visual content from customers. It’s well worth the effort.

Our recent analysis of 1.5MM online product pages from more than 1,200 brand and retailer sites found that there’s a 91.4% lift in conversion when visitors interact with user-generated photos and videos on a product page.

There’s a 91.4% lift in conversion when visitors interact with user-generated photos and videos on a product page.

Understand the Role of Visual Content to Optimize Your Strategy

In order to develop effective strategies to collect and display user-generated visual content, brands and retailers must take a step back and understand the role this content plays in the online purchase journey — and how it influences purchase behavior.

Recently, PowerReviews surveyed more than 7,500 U.S. consumers to better understand how they use both brand provided and consumer-generated visual content when navigating the purchase journey.

We also wanted to understand how the role of visual content has changed since 2016, when we conducted similar research.

We share the results below, before providing six impactful actions brands and retailers can take to better leverage user-generated imagery to drive sales based on the findings.

Who We Surveyed


Gen Z
Gen X
Baby Boomers

Household Income

How Dependence on Visual Content is Growing

When a consumer is shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, they can see, touch and – to a degree – try out a product prior to purchase.

Of course, that’s not possible when shopping online — which was becoming increasingly common anyway but has become even more so after Covid.

However, many shoppers turn to visual content to bridge this gap.

Nearly All Consumers Seek Out Visual Content

Visual content has always been important. And it’s getting even more important.

When we surveyed consumers in 2016, 97% indicated they looked for visual content prior to making a purchase at least occasionally. Today, even more consumers — 100% — say that’s the case.

Consumers Rely More on Visual Content Than They Did Five Years Ago
When researching a product prior to purchase, how often do you look for visuals, such as photos and videos, of that product?

As expected, younger consumers seek out visual content more frequently than their older counterparts. 95% of Gen Z shoppers and 88% of Millennials seek out visual content regularly or always. In comparison, nearly 85% of Gen X shoppers and 77% of Boomers do so.

How Often Consumers Seek Out Visual Content Prior to Purchase
Gen X
Gen Z

Consumers Want Authentic Real-Life User-Generated Visual Content

Consumers have an appetite for visual content. But not just any photos and videos will satisfy them. That’s because increasingly, shoppers want to find visual content from other shoppers who have already purchased the product in question.

When conducting research prior to purchase, nearly all (99%) of consumers look for photos and videos submitted by other consumers at least occasionally. In 2016, 88% said this was the case.

Those who seek out user-generated visual content are doing so more frequently than they were just five years ago. Today, 77% of consumers always or regularly seek out visual content from others who have already purchased a product, compared to just over a third (39%) in 2016.

Consumers Seek Out User-Generated Visual Content Prior to Purchase

Not surprisingly, younger consumers are more likely to frequently seek out user-generated photos and videos than older ones. 91% of Gen Z shoppers always or regularly seek out user-generated visual content prior to making a purchase, compared to 61% of Boomers.

Consumers Seek Out User-Generated Visual Content Prior to Purchase
Gen X
Gen Z

Consumers Value User-Submitted Visual Content Over Brand Provided Content

Brands and retailers invest time and resources to capture great photos and videos of their products. And while professional photos and videos are certainly important, increasingly, consumers value user-generated visual content more.

When contemplating a purchase, 80% of consumers say that a photo from another customer is more valuable than one from a brand or retailer.

In 2016, less than half (44%) felt this way. Clearly, user-generated photos are becoming table stakes as more consumers navigate the online purchase journey.

Types of Photos Consumers Value More
What kind of product photos are more valuable to you: professional photos supplied by the brand/retailer, or those supplied by another customer?

Younger consumers are more likely to value user-generated photos over that provided by brands and retailers. 91% of Gen Z shoppers and 85% of Millennials value user-generated photos more than professional ones.

In comparison, 78% of Gen Xers and 68% of Boomers indicate that a photo supplied by another consumer is more valuable than one provided by a brand or retailer.

However, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of each generational group favors user-generated photos. Brands and retailers must make it a priority to collect and display plenty of this content — regardless of their target demographic.

Type of Photos Most Valued by Consumers
What kind of product photos are more valuable to you: professional photos supplied by the brand/retailer, or those supplied by another customer?
Gen X
Gen Z

How Visual UGC Impacts Purchase Behavior

Consumers of all ages seek out photos and videos supplied by other consumers. And the presence (or absence) of this content has a significant impact on purchase behavior.

User-Generated Imagery Increases Purchase Likelihood

We know that product reviews have a huge impact on whether or not a consumer purchases a product. The presence of photos and videos within those reviews makes them even more powerful.

85% of shoppers indicate they’re more likely to buy a product that has reviews that feature photos and videos in addition to written text. In 2016, 72% felt this way.

I’m More Likely to Buy a Product That Has Reviews that Feature Photos and Videos

Shoppers of all ages are swayed by the presence of user-generated visual content in reviews. But it’s particularly influential for younger shoppers.

99% of Gen Zers and 89% of Millennials are more likely to purchase products that have reviews that feature photos and videos, compared to 83% of Gen X consumers and 77% of Boomers.

I’m More Likely to Buy a Product That Has Reviews that Feature Photos and Videos
Gen X
Gen Z

Clearly, when shoppers see what a product looks like in real life being used by real people, it boosts their confidence and increases their likelihood to buy.

This is in line with our recent analysis that found that brands and retailers can experience a 91.4% lift in conversion when visitors engage with user-generated photos and videos (worth noting: the conversion lift is even higher for certain highly visual categories, such as apparel and home and garden).

The impact of visual content on conversion is likely to increase as photography and videography becomes more accessible and widespread.

The Absence of User-Submitted Visual Content Can Deter Customers

What’s the risk of not displaying photos and videos captured by your customers? Some shoppers simply won’t purchase products if they can’t find this content.

This is especially true for younger shoppers. A third of Gen Z shoppers and 21% of Millennials won’t purchase a product if there are no photos or videos from others who have bought the product. In comparison, 15% of Gen X shoppers and 14% of Boomers feel this way.

I Will Still Buy Products With No User-Submitted Images/Videos?
Gen X
Gen Z

For the majority of shoppers, a lack of user-generated photos isn’t necessarily a barrier to purchase.

However, the presence of this content can inspire shoppers and increase trust, which will then increase their likelihood of making a purchase.

So make it a priority to collect and prominently display user-generated visual content. It’s well worth the effort as you look for gains that drive bottom line impact. 

Why Consumers Value User-Generated Visual Content

Increasingly, consumers seek out authentic photos and videos submitted by their fellow shoppers. But why do consumers find this content so valuable?

Consumers Value User-Generated Visual Content for a Variety of Reasons

Top Reasons Consumers Value User-Submitted Photos and Videos
To see what the product looks like in real life
To get a better sense of the size or sizing of the product
It’s more authentic and “real” than standard brand-created imagery
To understand how the product performs
To see if the product fits your own personal need
It creates trust in the product and/or brand

The most popular reason — selected by 86% of survey respondents — is that this content allows shoppers to see what the product looks like in real life.

While photos and videos produced by a brand show a product in its best light, user-generated content allows shoppers to see a product being used by real people in real situations — and that gives shoppers more realistic expectations.  

Three-quarters of shoppers indicate that user-generated visual media helps them get a better sense of the size or sizing of a product. This makes sense, as it’s often difficult to gauge the size of a product — or select the right size for an item like clothing — when shopping online. 

Consumers seek out user-generated photos and videos for a number of reasons. When you showcase this content on your website, you’re equipping these shoppers with an important tool that fuels better decisions.

When User-Generated Photos and Videos Matter Most

Clearly, a growing number of consumers seek out user-generated photos and videos. And the presence (or absence) of this content impacts purchase behavior.

But does user-generated visual content matter more for certain product categories than it does for others?

User-Generated Visual Media Aids Purchase Decisions Across Many Product Categories

As it turns out, consumers value user-generated photos and videos when they’re shopping for a wide array of products. But some categories do rise to the top. 

Clothing tops the list. Over three-quarters (78%) find user-generated photos and videos valuable when shopping for clothes. Electronics is a close second. 70% of consumers value user-generated visual content when purchasing products in this category.

Consumers also value user-generated photos and videos for product categories including appliances (63%), home and garden (62%), health and beauty (60%), shoes (59%), toys (48%), computers (48%) and groceries (30%).

While it’s true that visual content is especially valuable for certain product categories, it’s important to note that a significant number of consumers value this content across all of the product categories included in this survey. Even 30% of those shopping for groceries consider user-generated visual content to be helpful when making purchase decisions!

Brands and retailers must make it a priority to collect and display user-generated content, regardless of the types of products they sell. Those that don’t risk losing customers to a brand that better meets their expectations.

Consumers Consider User-Generated Visual Content Helpful for Many Product Types
Home & Garden
Health & Beauty

6 Tips for Leveraging Visual UGC to Attract & Convert Shoppers

Visual content plays a large (and growing) role in the path to purchase. Brands and retailers must make it a priority to collect and showcase user-generated visual content in order to attract and convert the growing number of consumers who seek it out.

Read on for our six top recommendations, based on the key findings of this report.

Ask for Photos and Videos as Part of Reviews

Most shoppers (85% to be exact) are more likely to buy a product that has reviews that include photos and videos in addition to written text. So be sure to ask your shoppers to submit photos and videos as part of the review process. 

In your post purchase emails, make it clear that you want your shoppers to share visual content in their reviews. And make it easy for them to upload this content directly from their computer or mobile device — or even their social media profiles.

Also, experiment with asking for visual content both before and after shoppers provide reviews. Then, stick with the option that generates the highest volume of user-generated visual content. 

Allow Shoppers to Submit Visual Content Independent of Reviews

Consider giving customers the option to submit a photo or video without an accompanying rating and review. It’s an effective way to generate a high volume of user-generated visual content — quickly.

Curate Visual Photos and Videos from Social Media

Chances are, your customers are already posting photos and videos on your products in action on their own social media channels, such as Instagram. So start curating this visual content onto your own website.

Showcase Visual UGC Throughout Your Website

99% of consumers specifically seek out photos and videos submitted by other consumers. So make it easy for your shoppers to find what they’re looking for.  

At a minimum, add an image gallery to your product pages that showcases visual content submitted by those who have already purchased the product. Doing so will help shoppers understand what a product looks like in real life. An image gallery will increase shopper confidence — and those who engage with it will be more likely to convert.

In addition, consider showcasing user-generated visual content on other parts of your website. For example, consider adding shoppable user-generated visual content galleries on other key pages, including your homepage. These galleries will spark inspiration — and encourage sales.

Leverage Visual Content in Other Marketing Initiatives

Look for opportunities to enhance your marketing initiatives with photos and videos from your customers. For example, consider featuring user-generated visual content in email and digital campaigns, as well as on your own social media channels. Doing so is a great way to capture the attention of shoppers actively seeking out photos and videos from others like them.

Analyze Impact and Optimize Accordingly

It’s not enough to simply collect and display user-generated visual content and hope for the best. Instead, it’s essential to regularly analyze how this content impacts the purchase behavior of your customers. Then, you can use these insights to optimize the ways you collect and display content to drive even better results.


Guide for a 5 Star Summer

Since last summer is one we would all like to forget, we've rounded up some of the best-rated products from our rockstar customers to help you make the summer of 2021 one to remember.


Backyard BBQ

Anything you need to solidify grillmaster status, backyard games, entertaining

Living Accents Square Propane Fire Pit



Fire pit
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No problem with burn bans makes it a big plus. With care it can be used as cooktop for wok or similar uses. Portable if tank moved separately.

Gray Adirondack Chair



Better than we were hoping
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Excellent chairs. Better than what we were hoping for. Perfect size, smooth finish, neutral color and easy for our young kids to climb in and out of.

Montreal Steak Seasoning



Make Your Burger A Steakburger!
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Boring burgers? No more! The flavor is bold and has a great peppery kick to it. I love the chunky texture of the blend which allows the flavor to really enhance the burgers.

Burger & Slider Press



Great Patty Press
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Love this versatile press. You can make full size patties or sliders. Thickness of patty is determined by you. Easy to release patty and super easy to clean.

18.5" Classic Pit Barrel Cooker



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This exceeded all expectations. I added wood pellets to the charcoal to get that nice bark and smoke ring on the butt. It works exactly as advertised.

Kabob Grilling Baskets



Grilling Game Changer
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We have been loving making kabobs this past summer, and were purchasing the bamboo skewers for these grilling nights. These little baskets make this dish so much easier! We just simply fill the baskets, grill, and enjoy.

2019 Merveille de Vignes Grenache Rosé


$24.99 $19.99

Great for hot humid nights!
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Just pulled this out of the fridge and poured my family a glass. Fresh summer berries and a beautiful light finish. Yum!


Pack your trunks and get ready to eat s'mores and share ghost stories around the campfire.

Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Aerosol



I would give this 10 Stars if I could
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I use it on our window screens to stop bugs, inside my dresser drawer when I rotate sweaters, inside clothing closets when I rotate clothes. Our windows and screens are almost bug free, but my neighbors not so. The best part is it doesn't hurt our cat.

Unicorn Ride-On Inflatable Float


$16 $12.80

Loved the UNICORN Float!
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This is a fun float that my daughters really enjoyed! Thank you Big Lots for carrying this product. 🙂

Every Night Firelogs



Brings warmth and joy easily to your gathering
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Firelogs are quick to start and bring the warmth and joy that can only come from an open fire. With the estimated burn time they give, it makes it easy to plan when to start your fire so it will end at the appropriate time.

GeoSafari Jr. Kidnoculars



Absolutely Perfect Product
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I saw these online and thought "eehh, binoculars, OK". But when I received them to review I immediately changed my mind to "WOW these are awesome"! They are absolutely perfect and couldn't be better - worth every penny you spend on them.

Nemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair



I sat in it every day for 8 months!
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Best camp chair ever! I love this chair! I do use it with an ottoman and can nap so comfortably, I have now had the chair for a year, it's worth every penny!

100% Recycled Polyester Shark Board Shorts



Great swim shorts
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I've always bought Gap swim trunks for my son and they never fail. He wears them all summer and they still look as good as new by the end. Great fit not too tight or too loose.

Tuolumne River Rafting Near Yosemite National Park



This river trip was awesome!
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This is the perfect family adventure fun trip. Beautiful River, Beautiful People and just so much to do. Even a little sitting around....

CarryOut Duffel 60L



This bag is the best, high quality at a good price point!
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I've really been enjoying this bag! I use as a surf and travel bag. I love that the zippered end pocket expands and is made from OR's dry bag fabrics. After surfing, I can fit my full body wetsuit, booties, and gloves in the expandable end pocket and keep towels/dry clothes in the main compartment.

Fun in the Sun

A day at the beach, a picnic in the park, etc.

Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer



Say goodbye to frizz this summer!
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Since I have curly thick hair I always stay cautious about my hair drying out due to being in the pool or going to the beach alot in the summer, but this product has helped it stay hydrated and I love to use it to detangle my hair after I finishing washing it from a long day.

LiteRide™ Flip



Please make more colors!!
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This flip is true to size and I'm glad I found it! Crocs have been making their flip flops smaller in the last few years, but this one reverts to comfort for me. Clean styling, good support, and I will wear them out!

Elsie Sunglasses



My favorite sunglasses EVER!
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These sunglasses are SO stylish! I thought for sure they'd be stupid expensive, but not only were they affordable, FG has a great customer loyalty program that gives you a discount right away and free shipping! I snatched them up immediately and I have gotten SO many compliments on them. Taking good care of these so they last and last!

Jacks Flat Sandal



I love these sandals!
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I love these sandals and just recently ordered a second pair because I've worn them so much since I bought them last year. When I first received them they felt slightly tight for the first day or so, but they quickly molded to my feet and have been very comfortable ever since. These are the best sandals I've ever owned!

Snappy Turtle Mower



Great fun
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I bought this for my great nephew who just turned 3. He loves to "help" his mom and dad in the yard and this was a big hit with him to mow the lawn just like they do. He loves the little details with the gas can and the starter too.

Harbor Mate 3 & 4 Step Boat Boarding Ladders


$50 $40

4 step boarding ladder
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I was quite happy with the quality and price of the boarding ladder. solid enough yet light.

Printed Terry-Cloth Beach Towel


$12 $8

Great for the pool
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Such fun designs and so soft! Great quality and perfect for the beach!

Walk Wipes for Pets and People



Happy puppy toes
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As someone who likes to take their pups out to bars and on walks around the neighborhood, it is absolutely essential to wipe their feet before they come inside. These wipes are easy to use and don't seem to irritate my dogs' skin, despite the fact that one of them is allergic to EVERYTHING.

Marlin 5



Definitely I would buy this again!
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Best beginner bike. Perfect training on my legs and I can catch up with all my friends with $2000 and up price tag on their bike and they're surprised. Overall, this bike is perfect to develop your skills and level up.

Yeti Camino 35 Carryall



Exactly What I Wanted
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I purchased the Carryall 35 about a month ago, since then its been used as a tool bag, suitcase, grocery bag, water tote when camping and a carrier for my dog Lemmy. I assumed that this bag would be durable and multifunctional, it has not disappointed!

Hit the Road

Why not take a road trip this summer?

SonicPro® Over-Ear Headphone



Great sound for the money
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They have good bass and real nice mids and highs. They feel very balanced and offer really good sound for the price. Good build quality too. I play guitar for eight years now and considering that I have developed my ear for music I can really distinguish layers of sound with these.

Voxx MTG13UHD 13.3" HD Overhead DVD Monitor with HD Inputs


$429.99 $399.96

would buy this again
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My grandkids love riding in my car now the only issue is the headsets don't go small enough for little kids. The staff is great and was real helpful would recommend that branch to everyone

Honeydew Snow Foam Extreme Suds Cleansing Wash



This product is amazing. I use it every weekend.
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I was recommended this product by a friend, attempting to start a detailing buisness of my own and have cleaned multiple cars, of all colors. It's amazing. I will be buying it over and over.

Purell Prime Defense™ Advanced Hand Sanitizer



Left my hands feeling clean
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Highly recommend! A little goes a long way. Left my hands feeling clean with no tacky residue but didn't dry them out. Will definitely purchase in the future.

Nitro Cold Brew With Lemon (12pk)



This is the best home coffee drink I have ever had
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I am, admittedly, a person who enjoys going out for coffee. That being said, the Nitro Cold Brew Lemonade is the best home coffee drink I've ever had. It smells amazing, it froths like the nitro cold brew in cafe locations, and it tastes great.

Himalayan Pink Salt Organic Popcorn



I would buy this product again and again
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I think this tastes like heaven in your mouth. A guilt free popcorn that the whole family can enjoy. My son even devours this stuff, like the whole bag in one sitting.




Wow...This is just superb to use!!!
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As soon as I put it on, it just felt like it was molded for my body personally by some kind designer. Sometimes, i just kind of forgot I had it on. Thanks Osprey, it just makes an older body enjoy his time in the mountains a little more.

Magellan’s Heritage Anti-Theft Hobo Bag



Great travel bag!
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I wanted an ample sized bag for an upcoming trip to Italy. This one fits the bill! I also wanted the added anti theft features! Great bag!

Roam Portable Speaker



A must own if you love music, travel and love the outdoors
Read More
Just returned from Mexico. Used the Roam everyday out at the pool and in our resort room. It's lightweight, has great sound and looks good too.

Muttmover Luxe Backpack



Comfortable for me and my cat
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This bag is so much more comfortable for both of us than my previous cat pack. All the pockets are nice for when we are out and about. The side zip panel is at the perfect size and level for my cat to sick his head out.

Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil



Vavoline has always been my choice!
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Valvoline has been my top choice of oil for the past 2 decades! I would not trust another brand besides valvoline products.

Self-Care Summer

After a year of keeping our distance we are ready for our close ups!

They're Real! Lengthening Mascara



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I really love this mascara. It isn't clumpy and the wand it great for keeping my lashes separated. I find it works best when you start deep at the root and wiggle it all the way up. It doesn't give you a super dramatic or fake look.

SUPERMUD® Instant Clearing Mask



The only mask I swore upon
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I've been battling with cystic acne on my jawline & neck! Been depressed for almost 3 weeks until I saw the result this morning after full 20 minutes masking SUPERMUD! My pores looking smaller & it makes applying makeup smoothly! I would definitely repurchase & repurchase! GO GET YOURS!

Madagascan Vanilla Bean



They fooled me!
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I'm so picky about my creamer. I had tried other no-dairy options in the past just to be let down. I was expecting the same for these but the vanilla bean is absolutely heavenly!

Energize Deodorant



Finally! A clean deo I L O V E
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This is unusually awesome. It comes out of package wet but dries on skin-soft velvety feel with divine scent of bergamot. Love for all day wear as well as during workouts. Will buy this again and again!

The Nubian Eyeshadow Palette



@ LaShondra
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I used the darker shades to the lighter ones. The pigmentation is the bomb and I play around with it everyday to perfect application. I love Juvia's place palettes.

Into The Glow Brightening Serum



Read More
This origins brightening creme is my new favorite. I use this every morning when I get up. It definitely revitalizes my tired dull skin! The smell wakes you up and makes you feel fresh and night to begin the day.

Creamy Coconut Natural Beauty Bar



Staple for sensitive skin
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I have the most sensitive skin and this soap is my staple everyday soap. This soap is so gentle and is such a great product - I can't even put to words how much I appreciate it for what it is. Also, it smells like a light pina colada!

Summer of Sports

In honor of the Olympics, sporting gear, equipment and apparel

Ladies' Wellesley Knee-Patch Breech



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The rise of this breech is amazing. It is a mid-rise and I can honestly say that these pants stay up ALL DAY! I work full time with horses and nothing is more annoying to me than breeches that I have to keep pulling up all day! Not to mention, the fabric feels like a much more expensive breech.

Boulder Insulated Water Bottle with Strainer



Easiest water bottle to drink from!
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The addition of a strainer is wonderful. My water stays so cold and I don't have to worry about ice getting in the way. I want to buy several of these!

Men's Nike Air Max 2015 Running Shoes



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I've been looking for this shoe for years and couldn't find it!! I love it it's the most comfortable shoe on the planet and I worked in shoes for several years! You were the only place that I can find it in all sizes and especially my size! I love Finish Line and will only buy my Air Max and all of my shoes from you!

The Instant Badminton Court



Clever item with excellent service
Read More
The item is amazingly clever with the container as the base. In the base are the racquets and shuttlecocks. You just pick it up and place it anywhere. My husband & I now keep it on the porch, then carry it down for a little game exercise whenever we want to.

Rubber Hex Dumbbells



I would buy these dumbells again
Read More
These dumbells are great, good quality, and easy to grip. They have been a life saver in this pandemic! Also, appreciate the excellent customer service.

Jumbo Square Trampoline



Great for all ages. Everyone loves it.
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All three of my sons love it, especially my eldest. He has autism and adhd, and being able to run outside and jump around for five minutes ten times a day really helps him.

Element Skateboards Seal Black Complete Skateboard



Love this board
Read More
After 13 years of not having a board I'm glad this was my first one to get back into skating, rides super smooth and is just perfect.

Try Some DIY

Fire up those power saws and try not to break anything.

Snazaroo Face Paints - Ultimate Party Pack



snazzaroo is my only choice
Read More
I'm a face painter for hire and I prefer to use only Snazaroo. Their paints are smooth and long lasting and glides under my brushes. The colors are vivid. They really are hypo-allergenic and the paints go a long way with a little bit of water.

Eclipse® Rapid Wall Repair Patch



Good to repair small holes
Read More
This product is great for small patch work. It is easy to use on drywall. The finished repair blends in very well. It's won't repair structural damage, but does a nice job creating almost like a bandaid for the damages on a wall.

Comfort Kneeler, 2"



After knee replacement, I can kneel again!
Read More
I had a knee replacement a year and a half ago and kneeling on that knee has been very painful. Then I found this kneeling pad and it has changed my life! I can get down on the ground and weed and plant again. Yesterday, I went strawberry picking and was able to alternate kneeling and sitting quite easily.

Heavy Duty Picture Rail Hook



Nice strong hook
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We got these picture rail hooks after some cheap ones we got led to a 6'x4' picture crashing to the floor one night. These things are STURDY. I was worried that they would stick out too much, but they're fairly flat.

Ultragreen Lawn Fertilizer



Revived and Thicken
Read More
I could see a difference just after a week of use. Our grass is growing nice and thick and extra green. Really revived the dry and dull areas! I like how easy it was to spread and the resealable bag is great for storing.

Personal Rise Garden



Blown away by possibilities!!!
Read More
The technology of this light system allows for eight plants to grow at one time. I Love the idea that the trays are compatible with the larger garden and the plants are easily tracked with the App. And just like the larger garden the app tells me when to add nutrients, when I need to add water and when to harvest. I love the look and feel this garden gives my living space.

Smart LED Daylight A19 Kit



Read More
The set up was super fast and connecting it to my amazon Alexa was a breeze. The bulbs are so bright I used one where there used to be two so I got to do a second room for the price I planned to spend for one. I will definitely be buying more of these bulbs.