Consumers tend to believe what they see, not what they read, according to a new study.
Thirty-six percent of those responding to a study from Intent Lab have performed or used Visual Search -- the same rate as voice search.
The study by Intent Lab -- a research partnership between Performics, a digital agency, and Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism -- found that 59% think images are more important than textual information, compared with 41% who think textual information is more important than images.
The survey was conducted in the U.S. at the end of 2018, and questions centered on the use of visual search, what device is used, whether they prefer it over text, and why. The study also examined responses from the 1,000 participants around specific categories such as clothing, furniture, cars, groceries, vacations, household, electronics, and wine/spirits.
About 36% have performed or used visual search at the same rate as voice search, per the study. Visual, images, and content all help to fuel searches and purchases.
In fact, many consumers -- especially younger ones -- prefer images to text while shopping, especially in highly visual product categories like fashion and home furnishings. Overall, when shopping online for clothing or furniture, more than 85% of respondents respectively put more importance on visual information than text information.
Some 53% said mobile is the best device for visual search, followed by 37% who cite desktops and laptops, and 10% who cite tablets.
Survey participants cited images as a better way to learn about different options and idea and to browse different categories for information. Images also help them evaluate the products better, such as comparing different items, and help them to make a decision to buy a product or service.
The challenges brands face with visual search and images are similar to those they face with text ads. The study points to eroding trust based on consumer intent triggering unrelated images.
And while many marketers assume that image search is important early in the buying process, the study proves that visual search is relevant throughout the process, especially when consumers compare options.