Apparel Retailers Pin Holiday Hopes On Social Media

By Naomi Gross - Professor, Fashion Institute of Technology

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The world of retail and fashion has been experimenting across a broad cross-section of social media and new digital platforms of late. From live streaming fashion shows (so 2010) to advertising on Instagram, it seems there's nothing designers and retailers won't try in their quest to reach potential shoppers. However, it seems that this holiday season, Pinterest may be having its moment in the spotlight.

For example, Target is putting Pinterest at the center of its digitally-led "My Kind of Holiday" campaign. The retailer will post shoppable, catalog-style Pinterest boards. Top-pinned Target items from Pinterest will be showcased in stores and on Target's efforts seem to be extremely strategic given that Pinterest users are often the big spenders of the social media realm. 
Holiday shoppers referred from Pinterest on Black Friday spent 77 percent more per order than shoppers referred from Facebook, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. It's also interesting to note that Pinterest users are predominantly female.

Target is far from alone in coveting this spendy demographic. UK's beloved Topshop launched a Christmas campaign with Pinterest, allowing customers in its flagship stores to pin, share and shop for items on giant touchscreens. The campaign will extend online, as the products with the most pins will be featured in Topshop’s online store. 

Pinterest and its ilk are part of the retail industry's transformation toward an omnichannel model that integrates data generated across physical stores, e-commerce sites, mobile devices, social media and everything in between to better understand what people want and how to give it to them. 

At its heart, omnichannel is a technology challenge. Companies must collect data every time they touch a customer and analyze the information for insight into individual preferences. This is difficult to do, but technology advances such as cloud computing are making it easier for companies to merge the on- and offline experiences of their customers. Hermès is reportedly investing heavily in on and offline integration -- planning to triple digital spend in 2014. 

I can't wait to take advantage of some of these exciting new digital options as part of my holiday shopping experience. Let me know some of your favorite examples so I can add them to my list. 


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