How Pinterest Became Gen Z’s Fav Fashion Inspo

Kristina Akhrarova

Pinterest has emerged as a surprise go-to fashion destination for Gen Z as well as a trend forecasting resource for brands and retailers. Can it drive revenue from in-app shopping?
Gen ZPhoto byBreak Archive

This post includes content written by AI.

Pinterest's new demographic is Gen Z, using it for fashion inspo. This could benefit luxury brands as the app evolves from its association with millennial tablescapes and home interior ideas.

Gen Z label Jaded London observed Pinterest users pinning 90s photos of David and Victoria Beckham in baggy trousers. They created 'parachute pants' and it went viral. Since launching in 2022, Jaded has sold 200k pairs, generating £8.5m in sales. The founders credit their design team's trend predictions among under 25s through regular checks on Pinterest's nostalgic images.

Pinterest lags behind TikTok and Instagram in monthly users under 25. Comscore reports 27% of Gen Zs aged 18-25 use Pinterest, compared to YouTube (84%), TikTok (61%), Snapchat (58%), and Instagram (56%).
Pinterest has developed AI to make the algorithm more diverse and inclusive.Photo byPinterest

As Pinetrest's Gen Z user base expands, luxury brands like Dior and Louis Vuitton are noticing and sharing pins of their products on the platform to increase brand awareness. Pinterest now aims to make its platform more shoppable by adding links to buy or recommending similar products, in order to increase Gen Z engagement and demonstrate the platform's value to brands.

Driving Gen Z engagement

Pinterest and TikTok use a content graph algorithm to personalize feeds based on user preferences. This differs from Instagram, which tailors feeds based on followed accounts. Kelsey Chickering from Forrester explains that Pinterest's popularity among Gen Z is due to its ability to provide style inspiration aligned with their tastes. Research from GWI shows a 16% increase in US Gen Zs using social media for inspiration since 2020.

According to Pinterest, 89% of weekly pinners use the app for inspiration in their path to purchase. Pinterest chief content officer Malik Ducard notes that Pinterest users have a distinct intent compared to users of other platforms. They are not looking for a fleeting experience but instead are planning outfits for events like birthdays or festivals. Brands and retailers have a significant opportunity to capture this intent and guide users from initial discovery to making a purchase.

Forrester's study shows that among adults under 25, 30% associate Pinterest with "cool", surpassing other social media and content platforms. Even TikTok scored at only 20%. This group considers Pinterest informative, ranking behind Reddit and LinkedIn, and considers it less fake and invasive.

In an effort to attract a larger audience from the Gen Z demographic, Pinterest introduced a companion app called Shuffles in 2022. The Shuffles app enables users to create captivating collages by cutting, overlapping, and adding various elements and animations to images sourced from their camera roll or pins on Pinterest. According to Ducard, these Shuffles collages generate significant user engagement when shared back on the main Pinterest platform. Moreover, Shuffles also provide a means for users to engage in shopping activities. When users come across an appealing outfit, dress, or accessory, they can simply click on it within the collage and be redirected to the retailer's website or complete a purchase directly. This emphasis on actionable collages demonstrates the commitment Pinterest has made to refining and expanding these interactive features in order to better cater to the needs and preferences of their users.

Generating and understanding trends

According to Ducard, Pinterest is increasingly used for future planning rather than focusing on the present, making it a breeding ground for trends. A recent study by Pinterest and Black Swan found that trends gain momentum 20% faster on Pinterest within six months compared to other platforms. Published in the Pinterest Predicts report in January 2023, the study accurately predicted trends like "romcom core" and Gen Z's fascination with shower routines. Pinterest also forecasted flower-themed desserts, showcased at Stine Goya's Copenhagen Fashion Week with suspended cabbages in jelly. Overall, Pinterest's research and predictions have been influential and accurate in identifying trends, showing its significant role in shaping popular culture.

Pinterest's new trend search feature allows brands and users to search and track trend popularity over time, helping brands and retailers with campaign creation. APOC, an emerging luxury designer marketplace, started using Pinterest in June after witnessing increased site traffic from it. With over 2 million monthly visitors, APOC has seen a slight uplift in site traffic through links attached to its pins.

Gen Z-focused archive seller Break Archive joined Pinterest this summer after discovering users were pinning their Instagram posts. Inspired by paparazzi shots of Paris Hilton in Juicy Couture on Pinterest, founder Gabriel Rylka and his team recreated the images for a Break Archive campaign. Models dressed like Hilton showcased vintage luxury bags, resulting in 8 million views across platforms. Rylka explains that they use popular pins to identify trends and source accordingly, predicting upcoming trends.

Pinterest responds to Gen Z trends by flooding the algorithm with relevant content. A K-Pop-focused week in August included Aespa curating a Pinterest board and doing a board drop of band selfies and fun photos for fans to pin and share.

Graph algorithms excel at generating trends but potentially perpetuate unconscious biases, resulting in feeds lacking diversity. To address this, Pinterest introduced skin tone AI technology in 2018, expanding it in 2020. This AI scans over 5 billion platform images to curate a diverse feed. According to Pinterest's Ducard, a more inclusive platform is more engaging, especially for Gen Z who seek a realistic online world. By prioritizing diversity, Pinterest aims to honor user expectations and create a resonating platform.

Converting users to shoppers

According to Forrester's Chickering, Gen Z prefers social commerce more than millennials. However, social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok face challenges in driving social commerce in the West, despite large Gen Z user bases and significant investment.

It's uncertain if Pinterest can establish a strong social commerce business. Ducard mentioned their investment in shopping, integrating it across the platform. This change led to a 50% increase in engagement, compared to the previous quarter's 35%. Pinterest formed a partnership with Amazon, enabling direct linking of pins for easier purchases.

Pinterest's acquisition of The Yes, an AI-powered shopping platform for personalized fashion, boosts its suggestions by integrating The Yes' technology into its personalization framework, taxonomy, and merchant data systems. Users can now shop a customized feed based on their favorite brands, styles, and size preferences.

Content graph and The Yes's tech help inspiration on Pinterest, but make brand conversions risky. Break Archive tries paid marketing and shopability but no viral pins. Rylka suggests Meta for reliable paid marketing and shopping.

Pinterest is less creator-led than other social media, hindering its social commerce aspirations, says Chickering. Brands tend to invest in creators for social media conversions on Instagram and TikTok rather than on Pinterest. However, it would be intriguing to observe how Pinterest could utilize influencers to attract its audience in the future.

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