Visual discovery: Half of consumers say seeing a product image motivates them to buy

by | Oct 26, 2021 | Marketing, Public Relations

They say seeing is believing, and new survey research from NCSolutions (NCS) and Pinterest affirms that the truism applies to brand and product purchasing. Visual discovery, even when it’s in the form of advertising, drives purchase decisions, the research finds—nearly half (49 percent) of Americans say product images influence their purchases of consumer packaged goods (CPG), while almost three-quarters (74 percent) say images in search results are very or extremely helpful in determining which products to buy.

According to the September 2021 survey, nearly one-third (32 percent) of consumers use Pinterest to find inspiration and 30 percent have purchased a product after seeing it advertised on the site. In addition, 45 percent of Americans think it’s extremely important to see an image of what a meal or dish will look like when it’s fully prepared.

Visual discovery: Half of consumers say seeing a product image motivates them to buy

“On Pinterest, advertisements are content. They don’t interrupt and they aren’t a distraction,” said Andrew Knoop, partner measurement & insights—food & beverage CPG, grocery retail vertical Lead in the U.S. for Pinterest, in a news release. “They’re a decision-making tool for Pinners. Visual discovery provides them with the information they need to make ideas happen.”

The connection between visual discovery and consumer purchase behavior is supported by the results of a new multi-year NCS Meta-Study of Pinterest advertising campaigns for CPG brands. Advertisers achieve a higher return on advertising spend (ROAS) when they combine visual discovery and relevance across advertising placements on Pinterest – in the home feed, in search and in related surfaces.

“The uniqueness of the Pinterest platform is in the mindset of users and the actions they take when engaging with content. Pinners engage with content across all sorts of categories and interests, some that may be adjacent to each other, in a way that encourages discovery,” said James Yoon, head of partner measurement & insights—CPG, automotives, restaurants, media & entertainment in the U.S. for Pinterest, in the release. “They can move fluidly from one category to another in a non-linear (relative to the traditional marketing funnel) way until they buy something. This is what we call discovery leading to action, and it happens 100% visually on the Pinterest platform.”

Publishers, like Pinterest, use insights from NCS Meta-Studies to dive deep into how brand campaigns perform on their platform, giving them a set of best practices they can share with brands to help them deliver even more effective advertising,” said Lisa Kerins, VP publisher sales and consulting, NCSolutions, in the release. “This Meta-Study provides invaluable insight into key elements of Pinterest CPG campaigns proven to drive higher ROAS—ad impression frequency, qualified reach and creative elements.”

Leveraging visual discovery for sales lift

In an Advertising Week session, NCS and Pinterest shared best practices that CPG advertisers can leverage to maximize return on advertising spend (ROAS) and bottom of the purchase funnel action on Pinterest, including these three:

  • Maintain efficient ad impression frequency. Fifty-eight percent of consumers say they prefer not to see advertisements too often, according to the consumer sentiment survey. In the meta-study, the CPG campaigns that performed the best were those with fewer than one impression per week over the duration of the campaign, though those with more than one impression per week over the duration of the campaign still achieved more than $1 ROAS.
  • Strike the right balance of targeting tactics. Campaigns that included purchase-based targeting audiences had a 38 percent higher average response than a typical campaign, and households exposed through Pinterest Native tactics contributed to 42 percent of incremental sales.
  • Diversify creative and advertising formats. Contributions to sales and sales response index are highest when consumers see multiple types of ad formats. Using multiple creative and formats will increase a campaign’s impact and improve advertising efficiency.

Visual discovery: Half of consumers say seeing a product image motivates them to buy

“For most CPG brands, transactions happen predominantly in off-line channels, which is why the NCS-Pinterest relationship is critical to proving efficacy and driving learnings for our CPG brand partners. We rely on NCS to close the online-offline loop at the point of sales,” said Yoon.

The findings are from a newly commissioned consumer survey by NCSolutions (September 2021). It is nationally representative with 1,020 respondents. The survey was weighted by age, gender, region, educational attainment and other demographics to accurately represent the overall U.S. population.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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