Pinterest Pushes Into Online Grocery, Letting Users Buy Ingredients on the Site

The platform rolled out a new shoppable ad format before the pandemic

Pinterest logo above shopping carts full of groceries
Pinterest's Q1 revenue increased 35% to $272 million. Pinterest, Getty Images

Key insights:

The rise in home cooking during the coronavirus pandemic has been accompanied by a rise in online grocery ordering, and the combination has proven beneficial to Pinterest.

Last June, the company began testing new technology that allows users to purchase groceries directly from the site. Users simply scroll through the platform, click on an image they like, then click again to order all the items necessary to recreate the dish showcased in the post.

According to Arthur Sevilla, Pinterest’s head of global vertical strategy, the new function has seen strong conversion rates, thanks in part to the timing of its debut. In the past six weeks, the number of U.S. consumers adopting digital channels to purchase groceries has been “more than we’ve seen in the last six years,” said Sevilla.

A recent report from Coresight Research, which conducted a survey at the onset of the outbreak in mid-March, found that 49% of U.S. adults who’ve bought groceries online in the past 12 months say they either started buying groceries online or are buying more groceries online because of Covid-19.

The shift in more people cooking at home during the pandemic is reflected in a surge of certain search queries on Pinterest. Between late March and late April, for instance, U.S. searches containing the term “leftovers” increased 191% compared to the same time last year, according to the company. In the two-week period ending April 19, interest in “cooking tips” spiked 411% among Gen X users in contrast to the two weeks prior.

Hormel Foods’ Hormel Pepperoni, an early client of Pinterest’s new shoppable ads for groceries, is an example of the platform’s capabilities. A click on one of Hormel’s ads—placed among other pizza-related content—takes users to a page hosted by third-party vendor Basketful. Here, users can enter their zip code, select their retailer of choice, then order the relevant ingredients online. Hormel Pepperoni, of course, is included.

One of Hormel's shoppable ads on Pinterest
Shoppable ads take users to third-party vendor sites, where they can purchase their ingredients.

“When we learned about the direct tie to digital basket, that motivated us to solidify the partnership,” said Shane Ward, brand manager of Hormel Pepperoni. “It was the first opportunity we saw to start tying rich, inspiring media directly to a conversion opportunity.”

Ward added that with the latest surge in digital grocery, leaning into the space has only grown in priority. To him, Pinterest allows the brand to reach consumers in a new way that encourages them to use its product in manners they might not expect. “Pepperoni as a food item has a natural fit within the platform,” he said.

With a campaign titled Stella Sessions@Home, Stella Artois has also gotten involved, posting ads that feature recipes by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.

“We know the Stella fan and Pinterest user are hungry to try new recipes, and Pinterest allowed us to seamlessly connect grocery shopping for Stella and the ingredients in our recipe content with the connect of a button,” said Lara Krug, vp of marketing at Stella Artois.

While many consumers are turning to ecommerce for household goods out of concern over contracting the coronavirus, Sevilla believes the behavior will stick due to the ease and convenience the experience provides.

“I suspect we’ve moved to a different plateau of normalcy,” he said.

Just as this time has been a boon for online grocery, it’s also been a positive period for Pinterest. Earlier this month, the platform reported that its Q1 revenue increased 35% to $272 million, while its number of global monthly active users climbed 26% to 367 million.

@hiebertpaul Paul Hiebert is a CPG reporter at Adweek, where he focuses on data-driven stories that help illustrate changes in consumer behavior and sentiment.