Pinterest: Where visual inspiration leads to purchases

September 21, 2012

The latest player in your social media tool box is Pinterest, and according to research, Pinners make purchases.

Social media continues to change and grow and is becoming more useful for retailers. Launched in March 2010, Pinterest is quickly becoming a major player in the social media world, and may be one of most interest for retailers as the data is showing that "pinners" are also buyers.

Pinterest is different than Facebook and Twitter in that it relies on engaging users through images. It's much like flipping through a magazine and scanning pictures, except there's a larger variety of topics to browse. Users can browse images and then "repin" them to their boards, which can be organized by themes. Lucky Magazine has long been popular for offering stickers to tag pages with things readers liked. Pinterest is much like a digital version of this - a digital wish list.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, users are not inundated with news feeds of personal status updates, political rants, complaints about mundane things, weather comments, hundreds of pictures of other people's children, etc. Instead, the images speak for themselves, the aesthetic standard is much higher, and there is no place for status updates. Overall, it has a much more filtered and professional appearance.

The concept supports what could be called inspiration banks. For example, if one were planning a wedding, a wedding-themed board on Pinterest could be useful in collecting ideas for the event. Or food lovers can collect recipes and keep them all in one place for easy access.

Recently, Fast Company ran an insightful infographic that highlights the direction of this valuable tool, which by the way, currently relies on venture capitalists to stay open. Below are some highlights from the infographic (Click here for Fast Company's infographic):

- 79% of Pinners are women
- Stores Pinners love the most: Barney's New York, Nordtrom, Sephora, Victoria's Secret, Williams-Sonoma
- Food is the #4 topic on Pinterest, Coupons is #10, and Consumer Goods is #12
- 80% of the top 15 Pinterest categories are connected to commerce
- The average order value on a product seen on Pinterest is $179.36. Facebook and Twitter are both less than half of that.

Food retailers are in a great position for opportunity within the Pinterest community. And the interface makes it easy to pin and organize based on narrow categories rather than just "Food." Here are some suggestions:

- Create pins for coupons and tag/organize them in categories as narrow as cereal, pet food, organic food, coffee, produce, etc.
- Use the store's dietitian to create informative images that promote health attributes. For example, create an infographic that displays superfoods and what part of the body they benefit the most. Or how about a graphic that shows how much one can cut calories by limiting soda intake, and offer ideas for substitutions?
- Showcase your store's prepared food recipes. Use a photo and title for the pin, and link to the store's website.
- Because the majority of Pinterest users are women, why not showcase the store's cosmetic and beauty products? Fast Company's infographic shows that the #3 most popular category is cosmetics/frangrances.
- Add "Pin it" buttons to your site, so your content can be shared by visitors. The Pinterest site gives easy instructions on how to add these.

One of the keys to success with Pinterest is to make sure the quality of your images is of the highest standard. Remember, Pinterest is all about visuals, pretty things and inspiration.