Visha Kudhail explores how brands and platforms can collaborate to succeed in this rapidly evolving new retail channel.
There’s little doubt that social commerce is one of the break-out retail trends of the moment. According to recent research by Accenture,1 global social commerce sales reached $492bn last year and are expected to triple by 2025.
It’s a huge new opportunity for retailers, as well as an incredibly fluid environment. In this context, it’s critical for brands to understand emerging user behaviours and keep up-to-date with tools designed to help make any venture into this brave new world both safe and lucrative.
Embracing the ‘upside-down’
The progressive shift to online shopping has turned the traditional retail paradigm on its head. Today, it’s consumers who are dictating retail trends, not the reverse. In this context, social platforms’ algorithms have far more power than even the most elaborate shop window.
Fortunately, this new upside-down model also offers brands a wealth of real-time data to help understand – and even predict – changing tastes and preferences. Data-driven trends reports from social platforms can be incredibly valuable.
From our own annual trends report, dishwashing liquid brand Dawn took advantage of a rising trend we predicted around food with flavour and launched an ad package based on the spiced-up recipe spike. This saw 24% more efficient CPMs than Pinterest’s benchmark for household goods ads.2
More recently, we’ve also further expanded our Pinterest Trends Tool to continue helping inform brand’s campaign strategies with real-time insights into emerging user-created trends.
Settling into recreational commerce
Alongside the social commerce boom, we’re seeing a simultaneous shift towards recreational commerce and an ‘always shopping’ mindset.
For today’s connected buyers, shopping is an experience and not a transaction – one that should fit seamlessly, and enjoyably, into their day. Social media can be a dark and scary place for users, and a risk for brands as users fend off being served unwanted brand ads.
Pinners come to our platform to inspire and be inspired, to discover brands and products that align with their own values, in a safe environment dedicated to their passions. We’re deliberately engineering a positive space, and it’s paying off for brands – research tells us that safe and positive online environments actually encourage action, discovery and purchase.3
A picture is worth (way more than) a thousand words
Our growing online media addiction has conditioned us to crave immediate satisfaction from visual experiences. Consequently, visual satisfaction now plays a critical role in on- and offline purchases. As COVID looks set to have tipped the balance in favour of virtual shopping for good, online retailers are under pressure to replicate in-store experiences digitally.
Pinterest was recently ranked number one for inspiration above other mediums including TV,4 but it’s important to bridge the gap between inspiration to action and social commerce offers just that, the opportunity to deliver these experiences without leaving the shoppers’ favourite platform.
That being said, brands also need to be prepared to test and learn while the channel is still so new. Social platforms, ourselves included, are embracing the somewhat nostalgic return of ‘live’ shopping: an experience which makes the digital physical by showing the product in motion and allowing consumers to purchase what they like, when they see it.
Hyper-personalisation hits home
Today’s hyper-digital, hyper-visual online shoppers also expect hyper-personalised experiences. Once again, algorithms are a brand’s most valuable tool, helping identify the sweet spot between their products and their audience’s interests to serve hyper-personalised ads. Ads for products they know the user will be interested in, and consequently aiding CTRs.
Social commerce also opens huge opportunities for retail innovation, by leveraging emerging technologies to create entirely new, hyper-personalised experiences. Our developers have been busy exploring the power of augmented reality to allow Pinners to virtually place and home furnishing items in their home, and ‘try before they buy’.
This same level of hyper-personalisation enables increasingly conscious, targeted shopping, another trend which is becoming ever more important to consumers.
Add something new to the mix
At a time when consumers are using an average of six touchpoints to buy an item, omnichannel presence has never been more important to retailers. Social commerce will have to be a critical tool within a brands’ wider channel mix.
From a platform’s perspective, incorporating social commerce abilities will also help extend the long-term value of a user if done innovatively, with brand loyalty increasing due to creating a truly different shopping experience.
Platform variety, increasingly influential creators and growing demand for hyper-personalisation mean there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution, and so collaboration will be key. If advertisers are prepared to join forces with social platforms, like ours, to devise impactful strategies they’re more likely to form part of customers’ always shopping experience.
1. Why the future of shopping is set for a social revolution, Accenture, 02 January 2022
2. Pinterest, internal analysis, August 2021
3. Dynata, UK, 2021 shopping in fashion and beauty among people who use Pinterest monthly and people on other platforms, April 2021
4. Custom Nielsen study commissioned by Pinterest. Custom Return on Inspiration survey was conducted in the United Kingdom between June 18 - 29, 2021 among Adults 18+ who have used at least one media platform in the past month.