Members of Pinterest love the network as a place to curate ideas and inspirations. For brands on the platform, the challenge is to leverage those intangibles into real life purchases. Crafting a successful approach that will turn a profit requires a mix of good marketing, mathematical analysis, and customer psychology.

Style has been a main focus for pinners from the first days of the platform, and there are several examples of fashion brands that are excelling on Pinterest. We chatted with representatives from two fashion brands about their strategies for the social network; from how they predict which images will go viral to how many pins yield a purchase. Judging from their experience, it’s clear that Pinterest is a social network that’s still both popular and valuable for fashion brands.

Adea – Everyday Luxury

Christina De Pierro is the co-owner of upscale fashion brand Adea – Everyday Luxury, which focuses on basic pieces made from high-end Italian fabrics. Adea’s Pinterest profile has helped cultivate awareness of the brand’s name and ethos. “Because we are still a growing company and are looking for more brand awareness, we always pin using the #AdeaEveryday hashtag,” De Pierro said. Adea’s strategy also goes beyond mere product placement. De Pierro said that only about 15 percent of the company’s pins showcase Adea merchandise. “We trend towards pinning things related to Italian food, Italian lifestyle, luxury vacations, and ‘La Dolce Vita’ because it represents the Adea brand and our personality,” she said.

Despite the comparatively small percentage of product photos that the brand puts on its profile, De Pierro said that about three percent of Adea’s traffic from Pinterest generated a sale on the brand’s own website. Seven or eight new images go up on the brand’s profile every day. Adea has “Pin It” buttons on all of its product pages so that fans can share images easily. “We’ve found that customers or potential customers will pin something they have just purchased or are excited about purchasing in the future,” De Pierro said.

The brand has a strategy for picking out photos that will do well. De Pierro said that many of Adea’s traditional product photos are basic, without the spark that will help an image go viral. “Typically the images from our fashion shoots and ‘behind-the-scenes’ fashion shoot images are the most widely shared,” she noted. “Those images tend to be more glamorous and visually exciting.”

Adea has also been successful in connecting its Pinterest profile with Polyvore, another online fashion site that lets members assemble outfits. “We recently started creating sets with Adea on Polyvore and those pins have been widely shared and liked,” De Pierro said. Those new contexts for a straightforward product line mean new sources of inspiration for Pinterest members.

Adea understands that in addition to generating profit, Pinterest has benefits for more than your sales figures. “Part of the beauty of social media is the ability to develop and express your brand’s personality in addition to promoting the merchandise,” De Pierro said. “Pinterest, of all the social media platforms where Adea is present, has the least proportion of Adea merchandise and direct Adea promotion.”


Colleen Winter is the marketing director for LuLu*s, an online shopping site with clothing by emerging designers for girls and teenagers. The brand’s strategy has included contests to attract more followers, as well as pins that fall under several of the popular topics for Pinterest members.

Winter agreed that “Pin It” buttons were a big help for getting product images into circulation. “We have between 7,000 and 8,000 items pinned from our website each week,” she said. The brand also had particular success with a holiday campaign called “December Delights” to encourage pinning. “The contest asked users to pin at least three items from and we saw a 50 percent increase in pins from the website during the two-week contest period,” she said. She added that the program also yielded a spike in followers as well as financial success.

Knowing what potential buyers will want is a key element to Pinterest success. Winter said LuLu*s examines data from sales reports to determine merchandise that will likely do well on the network. “Items that are selling well on the website are usually great to pin,” she said. “We are constantly perusing other Pinterest boards to see what ‘looks’ are trending and pin items that are very visually appealing.” The brand’s team also keeps tabs on what photos other Pinterest members share from the website or images that have performed well in the past; it then pins similar items on its pinboards.

During 2012, Winter said that more than 3,000 of the brand’s transactions came from Pinterest, and 1.5 percent of pins generated a purchase. “So far in 2013,” she said, “we’ve seen more than 1,200 transactions and 1.6 percent of pins yielding a purchase with numbers rising daily.”

LuLu*s has taken a different ratio than Adea for product photos, but the philosophy driving the choice is similar. “I would estimate that about 30 percent of what we pin is product and the other 70 percent or so are pins that appeal to the Lulu*s girl,” Winter said. “We like to pin lifestyle extras that really help us relate to our customers.”

Both LuLu*s and Adea have taken strides to craft Pinterest profiles that demonstrate a clear ethos. By understanding what people want out of Pinterest, these brands have been able to leverage the platform for better brand recognition and increased sales.

Has your brand taken similar approaches to Pinterest strategy? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credit: Henry Jose]