Is Pinterest a Hedge Against Showrooming?

By Steve Smith
Retailers have been running scared in the last year or so because of the purported phenomenon of "showrooming" where people appear to use the physical store merely to browse and test items that they buy from other vendors online. Smartphone penetration seems to have aggravated concerns about this activity, because it brings the Internet directly into the aisles. However, a new study of 3,000 social media users in North America and the U.K. by Vision Critical and published in the Harvard Business Review suggest that the opposite may be true, in that 41% said that they browse online and then purchase an item in stores.

Pinterest was singled out as an especially powerful driver of this behavior. 21% of those using the visual social network say that they purchased something in a store after pinning, repenting or like to get. The effect was even larger (36%) for those under 35. The association between pinning and shopping behavior comes through strongly in the survey, which found 24% saying that they found an item that they eventually purchased on the strangers Pinterest board or in their stream,. Only 7% say they found it at the retailer’s own Pinterest board, which suggests the power of other media in driving people to the retailer.

In itself, pinning is a key indicator of purchase intent, with 49% saying they pinned items that they were already interested in buying and 79% saying that the active pinning had some to a lot of influence on their decision to buy. Pinning is clearly part of the consideration process because only 9% of people bought the item that they pinned in the first 24 hours. In less than a week, 32% bought the item and 39% bought it between one and three weeks.

Pinterest understands the lucrative power of this pinning phenomenon. It recently introduced email alerts when price reductions occur on items a member pinned. In May, the company introduced Product Pins that include pricing, availability and where to buy content that is dynamically updated. Clearly, Pinterest is not just a traffic driver for magazines but a way of bringing a media brand deeper into the purchase path and perhaps bring their clients with them. We will be exploring Pinterest strategies and tactics during the August 12 min webinar "How to Use Pinterest to Maximize ROI for Magazines." Justine LoMonaco of Martha Stewart, Stephanie Miller of SELF, Chris Rackliffe of Rodale and Courtney Scott of Huge Inc. will be exploring how to optimize Pinterest postings and integrate with other media, create contests and ad partner programs, and gain greater insight with analytics tools.