Pinterest introduces visual search this week, enabling users to take a snapshot of a certain piece of a pin to find similar items. For example, zooming in on an image of a lamp could reveal that it was bought from Restoration Hardware and show a stream of pins with lamps in a similar style. Pinterest says it has indexed approximately a billion images from user pins for the new search engine, with the goal of indexing them all.
Despite being valued at $11 billion in its latest round of funding in May, Pinterest declined in popularity among certain categories of brands. For example, 70% of brands in L2’s 2015 Hair Care & Color study have a Pinterest account, but 37% had not posted new content in the 90 days leading up to the study. In Fashion as well, only two brands (Burberry and Marc Jacobs) had a sizable following on the platform (2.3 million and 1.7 million respectively at the time of the study). Meanwhile, other brands had thin communities of less than 250,000.
However, the Food category seems to be embracing Pinterest. Kraft, for example, posted a 54% year-over-year gain in followers while McCormick increased its followers by 53%. As users search for recipes, brands benefit from active accounts and frequent posts featuring meals made with their products.
Regardless of brand community sizes, Pinterest’s effect on commerce is clear. Nearly half (47%) of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on pins viewed on Pinterest, and the platform accounts for 25% of retail referral traffic. This data suggests Pinterest is better suited to being a commerce-oriented search engine than a social media platform.