Do you truly enjoy shopping? In my experience, fewer than half the people I ask answer this question with a “yes.” Contrast this to how it feels to have made a truly meaningful purchase. The kind of purchase that feels personal and special, whether you’re buying it for yourself or as a gift for someone else. And the more you see or use it, the better you feel about your decision. You know this feeling, right?
Admittedly, making this kind of meaningful purchase takes a little bit of work, especially if you’re shopping in person at local boutiques or department stores. The more convenient option is using your phone to browse text-based search results or hunt around on a retailer’s mobile app. But the challenge of shopping online is that however you search, you’ll probably find yourself with tens of thousands of links and product images to sift through before you can make a decision. Today’s consumers are craving the inspiration of a good in-store shopping experience blended with the convenience of using their mobile device. During the holiday season, this is increasingly important.
On Pinterest, where people come to plan year-round, we see searches for holiday inspiration start to rise as early as July — twice as early as other shoppable platforms. In fact, 83 percent of U.S. "Pinners" say Pinterest helps them with “everything holiday,” from decorating their homes to cooking a holiday feast to deciding what to buy for each person on their gift-giving list. Marketers should keep this in mind as they aim to engage consumers, drive intent and ultimately fuel new purchase behaviors.
The traditional holiday shopping window between Thanksgiving and Christmas is six days shorter than last year, and that means there are three critical elements for brands that want to create full-funnel solutions this holiday season:
- Start early. While this may seem obvious, consumers don’t necessarily always start holiday shopping in the summer or fall. But as we know, the holiday season is one of the largest opportunities for retailers to reach consumers when they are in a discovery mind-set — i.e., they haven’t decided what they’re going to buy or who they’re going to buy from. A holiday forecast from eMarketer notes that U.S. retail sales in 2019 will climb to over $1 trillion, making it the first-ever trillion-dollar holiday season. In order to win market share, marketers need to inspire and help consumers discover their brand earlier in the season.
- Secure sales with creative and targeting strategies. Tried and tested through Pinterest, there’s a huge opportunity to inspire people through visually appealing content. Earlier this year, we asked people about the different types of digital searches they conducted in the last six months. While text-based search was the most common response at 93 percent, it’s actually the least natural way people shop in real life (Pinterest internal, Sept. 2019). Next in popularity was visual search at 51 percent, and finally, voice search at 28 percent. Having contextual content that helps people early in their shopping process visualize your product and brand in their life can help form a bond with the right shoppers at the right time.
- Be aggressive. According to an eMarketer report, some shoppers say they will start searching for deals and making purchases earlier than ever this holiday season. Digital advertising dollars are moving higher up in the funnel to capture the awareness and discovery phase of the purchase journey. It’s important to balance marketing spend with the impact it will have on maximizing conversions. For example, Kohl’s began promoting holiday “Jammies for Families” in September because the outfits for family photos and Christmas cards are typically purchased early in the season.
Given these factors, it's no surprise that Pinterest sees the highest levels of sales, conversions and return on ad spend for retailers during the holiday season. It’s important to note that 80 percent of Pinners have made a purchase inspired by content they saw from brands on Pinterest. In 2018, we saw 7x higher sales, 5x higher conversions, and 4x higher ROAS in Q4 compared to the averages across other times of the year. At Pinterest, we call this “return on inspiration” (ROI). A picture is worth a thousand words, so you’ll know it when you see it, and make sure to prioritize your full-funnel holiday strategy today.
For more information, check out the full Pinterest Holiday Shopping Report.
Amy Vener is head of retail strategy at Pinterest, the visual discovery engine.