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J.Crew's catalog strategy: launch it on Pinterest first

Posting in Technology

J.Crew posted its entire fall "style guide" on its Pinterest page yesterday, a new strategy for the retailer, which has historically relied on its mass-mailed catalog to woo consumers.

The company's Pinterest followers, which are closing in at 60,000, were able to preview and pre-order the clothes and accessories a day before they showed up in the printed catalogs and on the company's website, reported Businessweek. The catalogs were mailed today.

J. Crew has kept a low online profile compared to other retailers. J. Crew debuted in 1983 with the mailing of its first catalog--and it's remained a centerpiece of the company even as it started opening retail stores. Some 40 million copies of the style guide were sent to customers worldwide in 2011.

Other retailers have experimented with using Pinterest as a tool to market their product and drive sales -- and for good reason.

Facebook, which once drove the majority of retail referral traffic, has been losing ground to Pinterest. Data gathered by RichRelevance, personalized commerce provider, found Pinterest's share of referrer traffic grew from 6 percent in mid-December 2012 to 25 percent by April 2013. Over that same time period, Facebook's share of traffic rates plummeted from 92 percent to 69 percent. RichRelevance's data also found Pinterest shoppers spend more than Facebook users and Twitter followers.

A separate study by Vision Critical published in the Harvard Business Review found 21 percent of Pinterest users who were surveyed said they bought an item in-store after pinning, repinning, or liking it, and 36 percent of users under 35 said they had done so.

Of course, getting consumers to move from "pinning" to buying is the tricky part.

Photo: Screenshot of J.Crew Pinterest page

— By on August 21, 2013, 3:47 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure