A Pinteresting Way to Discover Consumer Trends

Hillary Read

By Christina Oswald, Decision Sciences Manager

People talk. And talk, and talk, and talk. They just don’t stop talking.

To refine and enhance advertising, branding, product development, etc., marketers tap into this incessant flow of conversation - and these conversations are often rooted in consumer interests, hobbies, lifestyles, and preferences.

A broad range of techniques exist to extract conversational customer insight. From an online perspective, social listening and digital market research surveys are a few methods to improve comprehension of consumer passions. In the physical world, otherwise known as offline, marketers yield consumer insight through numerous tactics – approaches include, but are not limited to, traditional market research surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. Whether consumer data is collected online or offline, it is alike in that it is anchored in human conversation; it is locked into consumer words.

Gathering intel via conversational tactics is beneficial, but it should by no means be the only approach for collecting customer insight. One of the key flaws in conversational insight tactics is that they rely on consumers’ verbal selections, which may be sculpted by what they perceive others want to hear and countless other external variables, not fully representative of their true interests, hobbies, lifestyles, preferences, etc. In short, actions speak louder than words.

Fortunately for marketers, there are several means of accessing behavioral (action) trends to supplement what consumers don’t talk aboutOne of the more pinteresting ways to learn about consumer behavior is via search behavior trends on Pinterest.

Pinterest describes itself as “…the world’s catalog of ideas. Find and save recipes, parenting hacks, style inspiration and other ideas to try.” These “ideas to try” are action-oriented. Pinterest users that share ideas on the platform have 1. completed the behavior; or 2. aspire to complete the behavior. Consumer activity on Pinterest is ripe for customer intel harvesting.

Not only is Pinterest an abundant source for customer intelligence, it also encompasses engagements from just under one-third of the online population. In 2016, Pew Research reported that 31% of online users use Pinterest, just 1 percentage point less than online users using Instagram. Not a small chunk of consumer change, which equates to a fat wallet of consumer intel.

At 3Q, we lean into Pinterest behavioral trend data to learn about consumers. Here’s how we do it:

Step 1. Compile a list of keywords relevant to your brand: If you run PPC non-brand media, add those keywords to your list. Refer to your brand’s website site section and drop-down names, and add them to your list. Product and service categories are also fit for the list. For example, the West Elm list includes terms such as Furniture, Bookcases, Dining Room Table, Pillows, Lighting, Bedding. Wegmans list contains the following keywords: Appetizers, Main Course, Salads, Desserts, Diets. And Urban Outfitters has Dresses, Jackets, Bathing Suits, and Rompers on their list.

Step 2. Head to Pinterest and start the discovery process! Determine an automated method to collect terms associated with keywords on your list, ranking them in the order they appear. For example, if your keyword is “appetizer”, then the related terms are 1. Party, 2. Easy, 3. Dips, 4. Potato, 5. Healthy, 6. Ideas, 7. Meatballs, 8. Bride, 9. Make Ahead. The list continues. The related terms provide more context to appetizer trends.

Step 3. Continue the discovery process by following the paths most applicable to your brand: To extract more meaningful data, you will dig deeper than the related terms initially returned. For example, a related term to “appetizer” is “ideas”. If you follow the path through to “Appetizer Ideas”, you increase your knowledge on the category. Take a step further, to Easter, and you have a good grasp on what consumers are looking to cook (and eat) this upcoming holiday:

Step 4. Apply your learnings: There are many ways to use the Pinterest behavioral trend data collected. Here are a few applications:

  • Optimize media
  • Refine non-brand targeting
  • Inform audience development
      • Improve marketing messaging and creative content
  • Integrate consumer language into creative messaging
  • Create popular and relevant content for categories
      • Update website design
  • Develop sites that mirror trending consumer interests
      • Innovate products and in-store experience
  • Craft in-store displays to reflect trending demands
  • Ideate for product innovation

When applying Pinterest customer intelligence learnings, or any consumer insights for that matter, keep in mind that it is wise to incorporate findings from more than one source. And always remember to be creative! Good luck Pintelling.

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