Visha Naul, Director of Business Marketing, EMEA, outlines Pinterest’s lesser-known audience segments, and explains why she discourages brands from being ‘shouty’ on its platform.

What was the motivation behind the new ‘Inspiration Nation’ research?

In the space of a year and a half, we have all changed so much as human beings. That has affected the way we think and behave, and also how marketers think about their advertising. We wanted to figure out what people are like, so we can do a better job as a digital platform, serve better advertising with our brand and agency partners, and make sure consumers keep having a better experience on our platform.

The other thing is that everyone thinks Pinterest is just for women. I’ve had numerous conversations with agency people about this. I don't blame them – there is a natural assumption that it's a niche platform only for women. This is a very old myth that we're trying to dispel. Yes, we have women users, and we’re really proud of that because women have high purchasing power. But we also have men, we have Gen Z, we have millennials, we have so many different types of people across the UK from different regions using the platform. That was really telling in the research.

You’ve identified six ‘tribes’ or types of people. What did you discover about them?

Those six segments (‘Aesthetic Seekers’, ‘Design Mavens’, ‘Conscious Go-getters’, ‘Digital Doers’, ‘Authentic Explorers’ and ‘Inspired Makers’; pictured below) were drawn from people's interests and behaviours on the platform. It was a rigorous process – we went through a survey of 5,000 users to set the scene, and then we went into a week-long online hub with 42 respondents. We also carried out one-to-one interviews. Each of those steps helped us to get a holistic picture.

There were some quite surprising segments – not to us, but maybe to others – such as ‘Digital Doers’. They are the kind of people that want to know everything first, and want to explore those things first. We have people using Pinterest that are into fitness and football, and the platform can deliver for those interests. This really helps brands to understand the shape of their audiences and where they fit. It opens the aperture in terms of the different types of verticals you can lean into.

I’m guessing you’re not trying to suggest that all users fall into one of these six segments?

Absolutely not – what we're trying to show is that there is more than one type of audience here. That needs to be considered when you're thinking about your own planning and media buying decisions. If you are a ‘Digital Doer’, there are various different types of things that you might be interested in, not just one thing – tech, sports and travel, for instance. One of the most interesting parts is how these groups respond to advertising. The ‘Authentic Explorers’ segment, for example, really cares about brands that show up with a positive message and turn up with purpose. It really can help you to think about what creative message best speaks to a specific audience.

As you mentioned, so much has changed over the last 18 months. How has that been reflected in usage habits on Pinterest?

We’ve seen lots of highs and lows. During lockdown, people were looking for a positive outreach, and trying to do things at home, or planning things way in advance. We saw in searches that the UK lockdown at the beginning of this year really affected people's behaviours, even more so than the first lockdown. Wellbeing and self-care were popping up a lot. When things started to open up we saw people getting more positive and looking for things they can do in their gardens, like barbecues. You could really see how society was changing.

On the search point, what was really interesting from the research is that people are very assured about what they want and how they want it. This data is so powerful, and we don't talk about it enough. People approach Pinterest in a very different way from other platforms. It's a personal experience. You see searches on Pinterest that you wouldn't get anywhere else. People are looking for things to do to build their lives: 85% [of users] go off and do something, and take some sort of post-platform action. This is a really action-orientated audience.

We’ve seen a big shift towards e-commerce and social commerce during the pandemic. How are you seeing that playing out on Pinterest, and what sort of user experience are you trying to build?

What we are trying to do here is to take the best of offline and bring it online. We want to put the audience first. People want to bring joy back into their lives, and shopping does bring joy when it's done in the right way. It's not a ‘buy, buy, buy’ moment for us; it’s not brands being shouty on our platform. Our features aren't designed to do that. When you open Pinterest, you are offered a variety of ideas – it’s not a linear process. It’s bringing joy and immersion, but [making it easier for users] to make a purchase as well. You don’t see heavily-branded ads on Pinterest – 97% of our searches are unbranded. That's why we try to keep ads as part of the platform experience, and that’s why creativity is huge for us as well.

How are you changing the way in which Pinterest works with brands, especially over the last 18 months?

We want to be here for brands – both at this point, and in the long run. We want to work very closely with agencies. We want to create really interesting, innovative campaigns on our platform, and that starts with the client and media owner conversation. I've spoken to many marketers myself, and it’s interesting hearing them say that it’s not just about ‘anyone’ – it's about the golden customer. It's about creating communities. Brands have changed their strategies, and thought about how they are showing up. Our consumers trust us, because they know Pinterest wants to keep the platform a creative space for them to engage on. We do have that creative community, and that community spirit does come through from brands.

Read more about Pinterest UK’s ‘Inspiration Nation’ research.