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Retailers in Canada Utilizing Pinterest to Reach Consumer Base: Interview

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An increasing number of retailers are using the visual discovery platform Pinterest to reach customers.

Brands such as IKEA and Indigo are tapping into the power of the platform’s reach with nearly 11 million monthly active users in Canada and 400 million globally.

Martin Svensson

“Pinterest is a visual inspiration platform,” said Martin Svensson, who is the head of retail partnerships at Pinterest. “With Pinterest you can discover useful and relevant things that inspire you to do things in real life. 

“Things like where do I want to go on my next holiday? What should I cook for dinner tonight? All the way through to how do I plan for that kitchen remodel? All those things, all of those ideas, you can find on Pinterest. It’s really all about discovering things.”

Pinterest launched in 2010 and went public in 2019. The Canadian office opened in 2018 with the sales team and it has been growing ever since. In 2021, it had over 50 roles open across marketing, communications, engineering and sales and it is continuing to expand in 2022. 

IKEA Canada on Pinterest.ca

Svensson said Pinterest is different from social platforms. 

“It’s more of a visual discovery platform and we play very much in that search space where you come, you search and you can find content as well,” he said.

Svensson said Indigo is an interesting example of the type of work the retailer has done with Pinterest. 

“In many ways they share our overall mission as well. Our mission is to inspire people to live a life they love where it’s Indigo’s mission to inspire reading and simplify their customer’s journey to a life with intention. So there’s a lot of synergies between our brands from that perspective,” said Svensson.

Indigo on Pinterest.ca

“And Indigo’s challenge was really to get away from the perception that they’re just a book destination or a gifting destination. That’s the way many consumers see them. So what they decided to do is really partner with us and focus on some of these key moments around the year where people spend a lot of time preparing or researching and planning.

“In their case, they wanted to really highlight the quality assortment of their home, wellness and kids products. We did an analysis together with them to understand if their consumers were actually users of Pinterest and there was a near match there. It was the most perfect match I’d ever seen. 

“What we did with Indigo was really to highlight the trends and insights that they could lean into and really make sure that they harness the platform in the best possible way.”

For Indigo, that meant the retailer focused on moments in life such as Mother’s Day or back to school. Organically they upload Pins or content ahead of a moment to inspire Pinners with ideas which in turn encourages them to shop online or visit a store.

Indigo has also used Pinterest’s ‘Collections’ ad format that allows retailers to feature more than one product on the site. 

Indigo on Pinterest.ca

“Our shopping format essentially means that for a retailer they can take their entire repository, or catalogue, or shopping feed, which will likely be the same feed that powers in-store availability across all of their SKUs and then upload that to Pinterest,” explained Svensson. 

He said Pinterest’s retail team focuses on the top 27-28 omnichannel retailers in Canada and the vast majority of them use Pinterest on a regular basis such as Canadian Tire, Michaels, Lowe’s, RONA, The Bay, IKEA. 

People use Pinterest throughout the shopping process to find new possibilities, refine their purchase criteria and most importantly, make decisions. Pinners are planners and are coming to the platform with intent. They are in a purchasing mindset so Pinners are open to businesses reaching them with ideas and ads. On Pinterest, businesses can reach Pinners early in their decision making process while they are actively considering what to buy and do next, but they are still trying to determine which products and services they want to try. In fact, 97 per cent of the top searches on Pinterest are unbranded—leaving a lot of room for brands to enter the conversation. This open-minded behaviour makes Pinterest especially effective for customer acquisition goals, added the platform.

Svensson said the Canadian sales team was launched at the end of 2018. 

The Bay on Pinterest.ca

“The consumers were there. Not all retailers were yet there. But some of the more experimental ones, some of the ones that understood the power of Pinterest, they were already on the platform,” he said.

“And you had a lot of retailers who really understand the impact of the visual nature of Pinterest – the need to find a way to facilitate discovery and inspiration online. The Canadian buyers were there along with a number of clothing brands as well. We had lululemon. They were big proponents of Pinterest in those days and they still are all the way through to our friends in e-commerce like an Article which was one of the first furniture-related clients to really develop a presence on the platform as well.”

Svensson said Pinterest provides retailers with an opportunity to connect with consumers before they’ve made up their mind and picked the product and the category or the brand they want to pick. 

“So if you’re in the business of doing customer acquisition, it really affords a wonderful opportunity for retailers to connect with prospective customers,” he said, adding that being able to connect with people at the right points in time allows a retailer to be part of their consideration list much sooner.

He said it’s very easy for retailers to get started on Pinterest. Creating a profile takes little time. The inclusion of shopping products is as simple as a retailer uploading its feed and Pinterest auto-creates Pins, or pieces of content, allowing the retailer to connect with consumers almost instantly.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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