Does Pinterest Really Drive more sales than Facebook?

According to this post on econsultancy, the answer would appear to be yes.

At the risk of sounding like a killjoy on this though, I can’t help feeling that the methodology behind the story is a little suspect, and comes down to the way in which people use Pinterest vs the way that they use Facebook.

The data from Google Ad Planner, suggests that 100% of the UK traffic to Boticca is female and is aged between 25-34.  The stats for Pinterest in the UK suggest around 41% of users are female, and the largest portion of them (44%) fall into the same age group as Pinterest. Given that the user base of Pinterest in the UK is around 80x that of Boticca, you have a situation where a large percentage of Boticca customers are also Pinterest users.  They’re also probably Facebook users.

Let’s talk about stereotypes…

…but we’ll at least back it up with some science.

Women shop in a more visual way than men.  Think about a women’s boutique vs a mens.  Clothes are presented differently, hung to face the customer rather than folded on shelves or hung perpendicular to the customer.  Bags are placed on pedestals and the layout of the shop is less cluttered to ensure that the product is framed as well as possible.  This arrangement isn’t accidental, tonnes of research has been done on merchandising in shops because it impacts bottom line.  Here’s a table from a 2010 study into the effect of visual merchandising:

Visual stimulus by gender
response to visual stimulus by gender

In every question above, women rated their response higher than men.  Women shop by looking.  That’s why (stereotype alert) women browse multiple shops and multiple items when choosing their clothes.  And that’s why women are generally better dressed than men.

The challenge with shopping online is that it’s far harder to compare items, you can’t necessarily hold them up to each other and get a feel for which one is best, but if your friendly retailer adds a handy pin-it badge to their pages…

This is just an image, but you can pin it if you want 🙂

…it’s really easy to place items side by side so you can look at them, or better still, show them to your friends so that they can contribute to the decision making process.

Given that Pinterest links each image back to the page where it came from, it’s pretty easy for our visually driven social shopper to get back to the product that they and their friends like best and buy it, leading to a situation where Pinterest appears to drive more sales than Facebook:

because you’re measuring at the last click and you have a tech savvy customer base who fall into a broadly similar demographic to the site that they’re using as a companion to your online retail website

To a certain extent, there’s an argument that Pinterest is acting almost like the voucher code affiliate or cash back websites and adding an extra, superfluous step into the purchase funnel.  A little bit of multi channel analysis of Boticca’s Google Analytics data would show the path to conversion and whether my hypothesis for their success is accurate.

So Pinterest Doesn’t matter…

Actually it does.  Pinterest matters because if it is becoming that step in the conversion path, it’s the place where your customers will go to decide which of your products they’re ultimately going to buy.

I’ve posted before about ugly ecommerce websites being bad for business.  Pinterest, and the inevitable rash of clones that are cropping up demonstrate the importance of making things beautiful.  If you make your products more attractive to users, you shape their choices in a way that will make a difference to how they perceive them.  If you make your imagery something that engages with people’s emotions rather than just being a functional part of the site, then you encourage them to become involved with the product.  If you take a lesson from high end boutiques and art galleries, and minimise the design of the site to emphasise the design of the products, then you create a visual environment which users will respond to by treating the imagery as worth sharing.  To their credit, that’s exactly what Boticca have done really well, and giving users the opportunity to pin directly of the page is what’s driving their success.

On a separate note, Boticca really need to clean up their code, they’re including the full stylesheet for the site on every page, rather than in an external CSS file, and they haven’t updated the copyright date on the site since last year.