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

Jennifer Meech
November 26, 2019
Last Updated On

*We know that trends change quickly, especially when it comes to social media trends, but who knew we’d evolve to encourage marketers like you to capture lo-fi video in the palm of your hand? 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.

ICYMI, content in motion is on the rise. By 2020, Instagram predicts that 75% of all of the data we consume will be in motion. That’s a staggering stat—and alarmingly imminent as we quickly approach the end of 2019.

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.

First things first, the term “lo-fi video” is frequently thrown around in the visual marketing sphere, but is rarely properly differentiated from hi-fi video. Lo-fi video refers to content that is captured on a phone. It’s lower quality, often behind the scenes or on-the-go, and requires minimal production. Meanwhile, hi-fi video is the 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 level of investment in video content varies widely across brands and industries. A major publisher like Vogue invests in a range of content styles from lo-fi BTS style video, 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 effectiveness of lo-fi and hi-fi video content across the leading 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.

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 30 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 164.5% effectiveness rate while hi-fi videos sit at 32.6% on average. The staggering performance of lo-fi video for beauty brands is proof that your prowess on social 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 30 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 21.7% while lo-fi videos had an effectiveness of 52.9%. 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 2020.

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 30 luxury brands, we found that hi-fi video has an average effectiveness rate of 16.4% while lo-fi video content averages 20.2% effectiveness. It comes as no surprise that the difference in performance between lo-fi and hi-fi 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 four walls 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 30 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. Lo-fi video has an average effectiveness of 34.2% compared to hi-fi video at 15.9%. 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 30 brands in the publishing and media industry, we found that hi-fi video content has an average effectiveness rate of 24.8% compared to 30.3% for lo-fi video.

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.

We’re just going to go ahead and say it, lo-fi video will be a trend in 2020 that you won’t want to miss. Grab your iPhone and get to work. 📹

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