Why Pinterest Is Still a World of Untapped Potential for Brands & Retailers

It’s an age old question for emerging brands: How can you sell product without name recognition? On Pinterest, images drive sales, not names — 97% of the thousand top searches on the site are unbranded. Rather than type Adidas or Gucci into the search bar, customers begin their queries with “red sneakers” or “black boots.”

Pinterest is riding high after a buzzy initial public offering in April that raised around $1.5 billion. On the heels of the IPO, the network hit 300 million active monthly users — and stock has risen by around 60% since it went public.

While some brands and retailers — like DSW and Rothy’s — have succeeded in making customers of Pinners, marketing experts say the power of Pinterest hasn’t been fully harnessed yet. Only 27% of global marketers use the platform, according to Statisa data from January, but those who are on it see potential.

Pinners love to shop

Pinterest users are more shopping-minded than your average consumers. Compared with other social platforms’ users, Pinners spend two times more, per a Shopify report. And it’s not just budget-friendly items that are selling on Pinterest: Pinner are also willing to shell out money for higher-priced items.

“We worked with a client that had very expensive, well-done, highly crafted handbags. The average price point was anywhere between $1,000-$3,000. Well, we sold handbags. To move a $2,500 handbag on Pinterest was like, ‘whoa.’ That’s no small amount of money,” said Macala Wright, who does marketing and content services through her company, The Wright Consulting.

“[Pinners are] not just looking for the discount shopping or the off-brand things you see promoted; they are willing to shop the range, depending on what it is and how it fits into something that they’re looking for,” Wright continued.

You can target by taste

Retailers and brands typically target customers on their age, gender, location and other demographic information. But on Pinterest, there’s a unique opportunity to tap customers by another factor: their personal taste.

“If you want to maybe sell 1,100 tennis shoes or different product, but the one you want to put in front of someone aesthetically is most similar. Not because of their age, not because of their gender, not because of where they live, but because of their style — and that’s what’s really unique,” explained Amy Vener, Pinterest’s head of retail strategy.

Taste-based targeting is possible because of Pinterest’s robust visual search capabilities, which rival Google.

“[Pinterest is] really banking on visual search technology to power their future, they’re going to invest heavily in that. And who’s really benefiting from that are your [highly visual] home decor and fashion categories,” explained Anna Bennett, president of White Glove, a Pinterest marketing consultancy.

Pinterest, Shop a Brand
Pinterest’s Shop a Brand feature, which allows brands to highlight different styles.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Pinterest

Past success

In the footwear realm Rothy’s and DSW have both benefited from Instagram use — but in different ways. While Rothy’s has also harnessed the power of Instagram, the buzzy direct-to-consumer flats brand has seen success with Pinterest. After increasing focus on promoted pins, Rothy’s saw a 35% monthly increase in referral traffic from the site, according to a case study. (The San Francisco-based start-up declined to comment for this story).

“Social ads do drive sales. It’s just about how you build a social ad strategy across Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest that help you meet e-commerce goals,” Wright said. “Rothy’s is a really great example of a brand that’s done a great job both on targeting [new consumers] but also on retargeting (marketing to past shoppers).”

Meanwhile, DSW took advantage of Pinterest in a different way, utilizing the company’s annual trends report, the Pinterest 100, to predict what would resonate with consumers. The shoe retailer saw a 45% increase in engagement by featuring up-and-coming trends from the report.

Shoppable recommendations on Pinterest
Shoppable recommendations on Pinterest.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Pinterest

Pinners plan ahead

The average shopper starts planning for the holidays a month or two in advance. But on Pinterest, users begin their planning six months in advance — while it’s still summer, according to Bennett.

“Pinterest users, they plan and then they buy. They go on their with their wishlist; their mindset is about looking for stuff they want to buy,” she said. “As marketers, we need to appreciate that. We don’t have to force people to buy our stuff — they’re doing that already.”

People are also using Pinterest to plan their brick-and-mortar shopping trips. According to a GfK study from November 2018, 57% of weekly Pinners have user the platform to help with in-store shopping.

“Pinterest is a really good platform to invest in,” Bennett said. “You have to know what the trends are and what’s really resonating with your audience. And if you can outcompete your competitors based on intelligence you see on Pinterest, you’ll do phenomenal.”

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