By , Bloomberg Business Week


In a world increasingly filtered through Instagram (FB), a carefully crafted photo shoot starts to look dated. That’s why retailers are rushing to crowdsource their product shots—harvesting a stream of photos from social platforms to help sell everything from West Elm couches to Coach (COH) handbags.

The photos are typically curated in galleries, where each picture is linked to a page selling the product. Increasingly, the amateur images are also showing up directly on product pages, next to professionally styled pictures. “The path to purchase has evolved tremendously, and consumers are much more likely to trust their peers than a brand,” said Mimi Banks, director of social media at L’Oreal’s (OR:FP) Lancome brand.

The team at Lancome recently goaded women into posting portraits of themselves sans makeup for a project coded “#bareselfie.” The campaign urged women to “be proud of the skin you’re in,” but it also tied in nicely with one of Lancome’s newest products: a cosmetic called Dreamtone that promises to correct blemishes and weird skin tones without blush and powder.

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