Sparking Conversation: Pinterest: A Retailer’s Best Friend

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From weddings to recipes, Pinterest has become the go-to digital scrapbook for creative inspiration. Not only does it offer a platform to organize your interests, it generates suggestions based on them. Instead of cutting out pages from magazines and hoping they don’t get misplaced, Pinterest offers one place to store it and share it with friends. Forbes recently reviewed the buzz around this mesmerizing site and found that within the past year, Pinterest has sparked over 5,000,000 conversations across social media platforms. Huffington Post released an infographic showing that women dominate Pinterest, with 72 percent of users being female.

Today’s retailers are playing on a much different platform than they were on fifteen years ago, when catalogs and billboards were a prominent form of advertising. Catalogs are now selling brands, rather than products. Anthropologie’s catalog, for example, markets a lifestyle. Their advertisements are more closely aligned with beautiful photographs, strategically placing their products in picturesque locations as a way to bolster the retailer’s positioning. Other retailers adopted similar strategies which led to birth of Pinterest.

A New York Times article reported that a Pinterest account posted a pin that read: “Pinterest: Where women go to plan imaginary weddings, dress children that don’t exist and decorate homes we can’t afford.” Essentially, Pinterest is creating an appetite for shopping that may not have necessarily existed before. According to Shareaholic’s January 2012 Referral Traffic Report, Pinterest now drives more referral traffic than YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn combined. Furthermore, Pinterest is pushing online sales and increasing the amount of traffic to retailers. Shopify’s Matt Hayes, commenting on the trends of e-commerce, states that, “Of that traffic, shoppers are 10 percent more likely to make a purchase compared to those who arrive from other social sites. Furthermore, of those purchases, the average order is $80, which is double the average order from Facebook.”

In the digital age, social sharing has become one of the most significant driving factors of social media. Forbes reports that, “recommendations are the number one factor across all stages of the purchase cycle, from becoming initially aware of a product right on through to the actual purchase decision.” The ability to ‘re-pin’ something is in itself, a way of taking action from a recommendation. Over 80 percent of pins are re-pins, demonstrating the tremendous “virality” at work in the Pinterest community. Consumers are practically doing the product promotion for the company themselves these days, allowing the brand to increase its engagement and decrease standard product promotion. By doing so, brands can focus on attracting consumers through contests and mobile promotions; connecting with them on a medium that was never offered in the past.

Retailers are recognizing that catalogs and traditional print are no longer the most cost effective way to advertise. Social media marketing has proven to boost traffic and drive sales. Retailers that create contests on Pinterest are engaging with their fans while collecting valuable customer information, preferences and feedback. This valuable information lends itself to the retailer to more effectively target the needs and interests of the customer. As long as doctors’ offices and nail salons have waiting rooms, catalogs will never become obsolete. However, their presence in our lives is sure to decrease as social media marketing continues to evolve and become a bigger selling mechanism.

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