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Breaking Down Lo-Fi vs. Hi-Fi Video Performance Across Industries

Jennifer Meech
November 28, 2022
Last Updated On
April 20, 2023
hand holding film camera

We know that trends change quickly, especially when it comes to social media trends, but who knew marketers would be weighing lo-fi vs. hi-fi content against each other? With the rise of organic, authentic-feeling short form video content, now we encourage marketers to capture lo-fi video in the palm of your hand — but if you still need some convincing, we’ve got the data to back it up.

Lo-fi video content is blowing the leading brands’ effectiveness rate out of the water.

In case you missed it, social entertainment is on the rise. Many brands have experimented with video content as they’ve built out their social strategy. Whether you paid a pretty penny for a real deal video shoot or took the risk of producing video in-house with limited resources, many brands struggle to find a happy medium between keeping their budget in check and producing new and innovative video content to keep up with demand.

What is Lo-fi and Hi-fi Content?

First things first, the term “lo-fi video” is frequently thrown around in the visual marketing sphere, but is rarely appropriately differentiated from hi-fi video. Lo-fi video refers to content that is captured on a mobile device. It’s lower quality, often behind the scenes or on the go, and requires minimal production. Meanwhile, hi-fi video is high-quality, professional-feeling video content that usually has an entire production crew behind it. This style of video is more often used for campaign videos that will be leveraged across marketing channels, or for new product launches.

The styles and levels of investment in video content vary widely across brands and industries. A major publisher like Vogue invests in a range of content styles from lo-fi BTS style videos, to highly produced campaign style shoots, while a retail brand like Levi’s leans into a home video style vibe in its video content—regardless of the budget and the size of the team behind the production. This means that when it comes to finding the right video strategy for your brand, it can depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to your specific industry, your unique audience, and the brand story you want to tell through video.

Let’s get down to the data. It’s no secret that lo-fi video production requires a fraction of the cost of high-quality video content. But, will your video performance suffer as a result? We analyzed the engagement rate, effectiveness rate, average video views and average reach of lo-fi and hi-fi video content beauty, fashion, luxury, retail, and media and publishing brands to help inform your video strategy and catch you up on the latest trends across each unique industry.

hi-fi vs. lo-fi video performance

Key Takeaways From Our Lo-Fi vs. Hi-Fi Video Performance Study 

Overall, Lo-Fi Reels content receives a higher Engagement rate, Effectiveness Rate, Avg Video Views and Avg Reach compared to Hi-Fi Reels. Lo-Fi videos receive 40% more views and 30% higher Reach on average

While all industries’ lo-fi content outperforms hi-fi content, fashion and beauty notice the biggest lift when posting lo-fi. 

Brand examples that stood out during our analysis of 150 brands include Kosas’ behind-the-scenes factory content performed above average, and Tillys’ saw above-average performance on influencer try-on Reels. Additional examples of high-performing lo-fi content can be seen here from Kosas and a “get ready with me” style posts from Aerie.

What does it mean? Posting lo-fi content, such as more relatable, DIY-style content, will perform better than content that's a higher quality production.

Beauty Industry

Beauty brands know that their audiences want to see their products being used by real customers at home in front of their bathroom mirrors, not just on the flawless faces of Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner. Authenticity is top of mind for today’s consumers, and brands like Glossier are pushing the envelope in the beauty space with a focus on real beauty. This emphasis on transparency is evident in many forward-thinking brands’ approach to content as well.

Brands across the beauty industry are leveraging a mix of both hi-fi and lo-fi video content, and more than any other industry, beauty brands see a significant spike in effectiveness when it comes to lo-fi video. We took a deep dive into the top beauty brands that feature both lo-fi and hi-fi video content on their feed and uncovered that on average, lo-fi videos see a 22% effectiveness rate while hi-fi videos sit at 17.8% on average. When looking at average video views, lo-fi content towers over hi-fi content with a 70,000 view increase. The staggering performance of lo-fi video for beauty brands proves that your social prowess is not dependent on the size of your wallet.

Fashion Industry

Now more than ever, fashion brands are tasked with connecting with their customers on a deeper level. Consumers no longer invest in a brand solely for its product. They also want to align with what a brand stands for in terms of its ethos—and of course, brands that speak to their personal style. As a result, fashion companies need to craft an authentic brand story and curate engaging content to capture attention.

While Instagram isn’t a new medium for fashion brands to engage their communities, the way in which many brands are leveraging the visual channel is evolving. The biggest shift? You guessed it — video content. The fashion industry investing in video isn’t necessarily a novel concept — the top brands have been producing commercials for decades. What’s new is the style in which brands are capturing content.

Brands are turning to lo-fi video to give their audience glimpses behind the scenes at photoshoots, design meetings, and events to foster a stronger connection to their community. It’s no surprise that the other biggest lo-fi video trend is user-generated content (UGC). Fashion brands leverage video to show real customers wearing their products. It’s the perfect way to highlight how a pair of jeans fit on women with different body types, how big those hoop earrings actually look IRL, or how a leather jacket pairs with a skirt.

We took a deep dive into leading fashion brands that use both lo-fi and hi-fi video on their feed. On average, hi-fi videos had an effectiveness rate of 12.94% while lo-fi videos had an effectiveness of 14.82%. Hi-fi content had an average engagement rate of 0.12%, and lo-fi content had 0.22% The data validates the shift in consumer mindset when it comes to what people are looking for in a fashion brand, and is good news for fashion brands’ video production budgets in 2023.

Luxury Industry

Similar to the hefty price tags on their products, luxury brands aren’t known for cutting costs when it comes to video production. To capture the authentic leather, shimmering diamonds, and quality stitching that adorns their products, luxury brands have always relied on hi-fi video to use across marketing channels. While this may still be true, many brands are testing the waters with lo-fi video to showcase other aspects of their brand, including BTS of their fashion shows, interviews with their networks of celebs, and a glimpse into the team behind some of the OG designers. Like the fashion industry, luxury brands are evolving their approach to content curation to foster a stronger connection with consumers.

In looking at the top luxury brands, we found that hi-fi video has an average effectiveness rate of 19.99% while lo-fi video content averages 23.21% effectiveness. The average reach for hi-fi videos was around 130,000, while lo-fi videos performed higher with over 210,000. It comes as no surprise that the difference between lo-fi and hi-fi video performance in the luxury industry is smaller compared to other industries. A luxury brand’s audience has unique tastes in contrast to other industries, and tends to expect the high-end feel in all aspects of the brand to align with the pretty penny they’re paying for its products. Innovative luxury brands are able to cultivate a brand story on social with a balance of lo-fi and hi-fi that brings its audience a step closer to its roots without losing its exclusive feel.

Retail Industry

Whether you’re trying to bring your audience into your brick-and-mortar business or to check out on your website, consumers want to be highly educated before they make a purchase. Retailers are leveraging visual marketing channels like Instagram to feature their customers using or wearing their products IRL. It was only a matter of time before retail brands stepped up their UGC game by featuring video content created by their customers and network of influencers.

We dove deep into the top retail brands and compared the performance of lo-fi videos vs. hi-fi videos on their feeds. And the results are in favor of lo-fi video.The average engagement rate for lo-fi content is 0.16%, while hi-fi content is 0.09%. Lo-fi video has an average effectiveness of 12.07% compared to hi-fi video at 10.04%. This tactic is a guaranteed—and budget-friendly—way to extend your brand outside of your four walls or beyond the pages of your website.

Media & Publishing Industry

Instagram quickly became a place for publishers and media brands to reach broader audiences and serve up the latest news in bite-size snippets to today’s digital generation. Condensing long-form content, whether it be a political deep dive, celebrity interview, or lifestyle article, into a single caption and image is a challenge for even the savviest social marketers. Many media brands and publishers have long experimented with video content on social to story tell and send their followers to the web.

Finding a balance between leveraging hi-fi and lo-fi content has been key to success for many brands. Publishing and media brands often combine sliced-up hi-fi content straight from their website or television with behind-the-scenes style lo-fi video to balance out their feed. In looking at the top brands in the publishing and media industry, we found that hi-fi video content has an average effectiveness rate of 36.23% compared to 39.52% for lo-fi video. Average views for lo-fi content scored over 250,000, while hi-fi videos sat at just a little over 180,000.

How Dash Hudson Collected Our Data

To understand how hi-fi and lo-fi Reels content compare, our team analyzed 150 brands across key industries and watched nearly 2,000 videos. For each brand, the team analyzed 5-10 lo-fi and 5-10 hi-fi videos, recording the performance of each video. The research includes videos posted from January 2022 to September 2022. 

There’s no denying that lo-fi video is making an impact on social performance, no matter the industry. It’s not to say that professionally produced video no longer holds any value to brands. Hi-fi video will remain a key content pillar for many—especially for luxury, media, and publishing brands that are producing big-budget video content that is used across multiple marketing channels. The brands that are able to find a balance between both styles of video to effectively accomplish their goals on social are the ones that are meeting and exceeding their KPIs.

Lo-fi video will be a continuing trend in 2023 that you won’t want to miss. Grab your iPhone and get to work.


How to make lo-fi video edits? 

There are a few different ways brands can edit their lo-fi video content. When sharing to platforms like TikTok or Instagram Reels, brands can snip content or make slight adjustments to an image straight from their Video library. For more involved edits, brands can use a video editing app, or a more sophisticated tool like Adobe Premiere Pro, but beware — this can be time-consuming and take away from the ‘authentic’ feeling of lo-fi, short form content. 

What does lo-fi mean?

Lo-fi stands for low-fidelity — specifically, lo-fi video features a less polished appearance, overall lower quality than professional video, and a stripped back production compared to professional video production. 

What does hi-fi mean?

Hi-fi stands for high-fidelity — while high fidelity also refers to how accurate a video reproduction is based on the original, but also commonly refers to professionally produced and ultra polished video content.

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