How Pinterest Influences the In-Store Purchasing Decisions of their Users

I confess. I’ll own up to it. I am capable of killing a truly absurd and somewhat embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest. The draw of having an app on my phone where I can research and save recipes I’d like to try, DIY projects that seem fun and easy (but that I’ll ultimately probably never get around to), and travel destinations I’m dreaming of visiting one day, is an attractive place to retreat to during the day. Admittedly, having one place online where I can constantly research and seek out new inspiration for seemingly any topic imaginable, and store ideas and articles I’d like to return to without cluttering my inbox or bookshelf, is both appealing and just plain practical. Pinterest is an excellent resource to research, plan, learn, explore, be inspired, absent-mindedly fill the time, but it is also a platform that can trigger action.

The Facts – In March 2015, Pinterest and Millward Brown Digital conducted a study on the purchase trends of Pinterest User’s:

Pinterest User Trends v3

Pinterest Integrates Buyable Pins

In an effort to capitalize on these trends, Pinterest released “buyable pins” in June 2015, allowing users to purchase items directly through Pinterest and supported by online stores using Demandware, Shopify and a growing number of e-commerce platforms (Social Media Today, June 2015). The buyable pins are designed to be extremely mobile friendly as well (Pinterest initially only released the buyable pins feature for mobile and tablet), and intended to make the purchasing process fluid and convenient. Even more appealing to brands looking to convert users on Pinterest is the fact that merchants keep 100% of the sales (Tech Crunch, October 2015).

As Pinterest is a very visual platform and it lends itself to a more non-intrusive form of advertising, it would appear to be a natural evolution for Pinterest to try and become a one-stop shop for consumers. Taking it even further, as of December 2015, Pinterest released a feature that provides consumers with notifications when the price has dropped of products they have pinned (Tech Crunch, December 2015). The user will get either an in-app notification or an email, which will allow them to go straight to the pin and purchase the product.  As Pinterest has rolled out these new offerings relatively recently, the data to determine if users truly want to purchase items through Pinterest or would prefer to use the platform as a research and inspirational tool. Early data from Shopify merchants suggested that buyable pins were already having a positive impact, triggering a doubling in conversion rates compared with other mobile pins, (Tech Crunch, October 2015). However, it is important to note that the buyable pins are only available in the US, and the data found in the above mentioned surveys are US only. The influence of Pinterest on purchase decisions outside of the US has not been explored in full detail, and would certainly provide a more complete picture of Pinterest’s impact and viability in the marketplace.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, we know there is never a golden ticket, one size fits all approach when it comes to reaching consumers and maintaining their attention. Banners are being ignored, content has to be snackable, compelling and inspiring, and consumers are driven by product comparisons and word of mouth recommendations. It can be easy to overlook Pinterest in a world of Facebooks, Twitters, LinkedIns and Instagrams. Pinterest may not always be on businesses and advertisers’ radars, but the research paints a picture of the platform being a go-to resource for consumers to both inspire and validate their purchase decisions; whether those decisions be in-store while on their mobile device, or guides them to a company’s website for further information, or now even with a swift and immediate purchase through a “buyable” pin. As the shift toward mobile continues, coupled with the search for more efficiencies and convenience when it comes to the shopping experience, Pinterest seems poised to continue to evolve as a viable option for retailers and advertisers alike.

R A C H E L   M C K I S S O C K
Media Account Manager




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