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The Art of Research: Using the power of images to increase the value of the DIESEL Pinterest page


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DIESEL recognizes the need for social currency among today's increasingly digitalized Generation Y and is focusing its efforts on Pinterest as the ideal location to inspire and connect with females within their desired target demographic. DIESEL is known for tapping into subcultures with self-aware marketing, which is also the case on Pinterest. The platform allows DIESEL to build a unique look and feel by making it easy for them to bring the personality and DNA of the brand in an accessible magazine-like online display.

As a fashion company, DIESEL can use Pinterest as a brand-building exercise where they can tell the brand story, showcase DIESEL’s many facets, display individual collections and campaigns and where anyone can learn what the brand stands for. DIESEL launched its Pinterest page in the early days of the platform. Over the last year, they maintained their boards merely as a mirror of their Facebook content. The strategy was to showcase their collection as a lifestyle brand.

Early 2013, the growing popularity of the platform brought Pinterest into strategic focus in its own right. Additionally, considering DIESEL’s strategic decision to augment its focus on communicating with women and the fact that Pinterest is more used by women, DIESEL wanted to focus its efforts on Pinterest to use it as a valuable communication channel to connect with this female target group online. In order to optimize the platform for brand activation, instead of a repository of Facebook content, there was a strong need for insights on the best digital strategy for the DIESEL Pinterest page.

Published in: Technology, Business

The Art of Research: Using the power of images to increase the value of the DIESEL Pinterest page

  1. 1. What to expect? Figure 1.
  2. 2. A brave new visual world
  3. 3. “Something is happening. We are becoming a visually mediated society. For many, understanding of the world is being accomplished not through words but by reading images.” - Paul Martin Lester, Syntactic theory of visual communication Images increasingly dominate our world. Visual communication has always been the most impactful human type of communication from the cavemen’s drawings in ancient times until today’s LED billboards, multi-media online games or 3D television spots. Research indicates that people remember 30% of what they read, but about 80% of what they do and see (Lester, 1994). Images have the ability to connect people across countries, cultures and beyond languages. They possess the ability to express certain ideas better than any spoken language can. Just think of the power of iconography used in airports and other public buildings or the visual traffic signs recognized across the globe.
  4. 4. In the digitized world, people almost automatically use pictures to start conversations and express themselves. There are several illustrations of this within new emerging social media channels. Instagram, an online photo sharing and social networking service, just recently hit 100 million active monthly users (Techcrunch, 2013). Twitter, a primarily text-based media format, just launched its video-sharing platform Vine. However, the fastest growing visual social network at the moment is Pinterest. Pinterest is a social image bookmarking system where users can post (‘pin’), search, like, comment and repost (‘repin’) visual content into collections (‘boards’) that can be viewed from their profile. Pinterest offers an easy way to find and collect design and broad lifestyle ideas. It is comparable with an online scrapbook. Although the site was only launched in 2010, it quickly became one of the most popular social media sites ever. Early 2012, the platform was announced as the fastest site in history to break through the ‘10 million unique visitors’ mark (Techcrunch, 2012). At this moment, it is the third largest network in the US, right behind Facebook and Twitter (Mashable, 2013).
  5. 5. 1 2 3 To start with, it is one of the first truly visual platforms allowing brands to present their products to consumers. It can be viewed as a personal online catalogue where consumers pin their wish lists of products they would like to possess. The visual nature of the platform also makes for a great platform for branding: through visuals, mood boards and look books the brand personality can easily be expressed, e.g. by pinning both their own products and mood pictures as well as other visuals which express the identity of the brand. Second, Pinterest is unique because so far it has mainly attracted women (Van Belleghem & Thijs, 2012). And last but not least, Pinterest is one of the platforms with the highest conversion rates. Recent statistics show that it drives more referral traffic to retailers and company websites than any other social media platform (Smith, 2013). This fact alone cements the argument that the immediacy of visuals is important for marketing and branding. Next to the fast expansion of the platform, Pinterest also has some other distinctive characteristics that have drawn the attention of marketers:
  6. 6. As a fashion company, DIESEL can use Pinterest as a brand- building exercise where they can tell the brand story, showcase DIESEL’s many facets, display individual collections and campaigns and where anyone can learn what the brand stands for. DIESEL launched its Pinterest page in the early days of the platform. Over the last year, they maintained their boards merely as a mirror of their Facebook content. The strategy was to showcase their collection as a lifestyle brand. Because of all the previously mentioned characteristics of the platform, Pinterest has also drawn the attention of the digital marketing department at DIESEL DIESEL recognizes the need for social currency among today's increasingly digitalized generation Y and is focusing its efforts on Pinterest as the ideal location to inspire and connect with females within their desired target demographic. DIESEL is known for tapping into subcultures with self-aware marketing, which is also the case on Pinterest. The platform allows DIESEL to build a unique look and feel by making it easy for them to bring the personality and DNA of the brand in an accessible magazine-like online display.
  7. 7. Early 2013, the growing popularity of the platform brought Pinterest into strategic focus in its own right. Additionally, considering DIESEL’s strategic decision to augment its focus on communicating with women and the fact that Pinterest is more used by women, DIESEL wanted to focus its efforts on Pinterest to use it as a valuable communication channel to connect with this female target group online. In order to optimize the platform for brand activation, instead of a repository of Facebook content, there was a strong need for insights on the best digital strategy for the DIESEL Pinterest page. Figure 2 - The DIESEL Pinterest page
  8. 8. 1 How can we help marketers to deal with new and visual communication platforms such as Pinterest? To create a strategy specific to Pinterest, we had to understand both the current value of the DIESEL Pinterest page as well as the mechanisms that would help DIESEL increase the activation value of their page. 2 In sharp contrast with the rapid evolution and proliferation of visual material, in market research, we still mainly rely on the power of words and numbers. Through the case study, we wanted to describe how market researchers can make an effective use of the power of images throughout the entire research process. In a final section, we will evaluate our success by looking at the Return Of Images (or ROI), both for DIESEL and for the researchers. In the remaining part of this paper, we will describe our journey with DIESEL through this brave new visual world. More specifically we will address two challenges
  9. 9. Challenge 1: How to assess and increase the value of a Pinterest page
  10. 10. In the old world, marketers had control. Today we see that consumers have moved into the driver’s seat, more so than ever before. Gradually, we saw marketing moving towards working together with consumers, collaborating with them and achieving goals through them. The days are gone where we send out messages and want people to go to the store and buy our products or brands. Today we need to engage consumers to participate in our brand activation. We are adapting strategies from ‘marketing to consumers’ to ‘marketing through consumers’.
  11. 11. In sharp contrast with this changing world, many marketers are still using advertising and digital communication in a predominant unidirectional way. Even in assessing the success of their brand activations, they tend to focus on large scale reach KPIs such as the number of likes, followers or fans of a page. Generating reach might be easy and often is a question of buying media space, but ultimately it only stays a reflection of low-value consumer brand commitment. In addition, brands often simply copy offline brand activation into the digital world. This type of repeated content mostly lacks stimulation of consumers to activate through their brand affection. The real value of digital media lies in creating true engagement and brand intimacy with consumers - which preferably grows organically. This is the difference between a product that reaches you and a product that grabs you!
  12. 12. Changing the hearts and minds: Although we often refer to a follower of a social media brand page as a ‘fan’, arguably a fan is really somebody who loves and buys the brand. Real ‘fans’ are consumers who strongly identify with a brand and who state a clear preference for this brand over others. For DIESEL we had to find out how many of their Pinterest page follower really identified and preferred the brand over competitor brands. In addition, fans have a considerable knowledge of the brand, the products and the company. In DIESEL’s case, for example, this means that they not only know the main brand DIESEL, but that they can articulate the differences between the sub-labels such as DIESEL Black Gold, 55DSL and DIESEL kids, or they are well aware of the new collections launched by the DIESEL brand. 1 In order to assess the ‘real’ value of the current Pinterest DIESEL page and to understand the drivers for engagement, we applied the activation model (Van Belleghem, 2010). This model is extremely valuable because it reveals higher levels of consumer brand-commitment. The activation model claims that value can be assessed on two main dimensions:
  13. 13. 2 Changing the actions: Academic research has shown that brand identification also reinforces purchase behavior (Lam et al. 2012). So we should know to what extent the DIESEL content on Pinterest drives online and offline store visits and buying behavior. Additionally, we should look beyond conversion. If one really understands COBRAs (Consumers Online and Offline Brand- Related Activities), brand activation efforts will lead to advocacy: you can influence what your followers do for your brand and what impact their actions have on others. They will spread your message by connecting with their networks.
  14. 14. Successful brand activation can only be achieved if you get insights on current consumers’ online and offline brand-related actions (COBRAs) (Muntinga et al., 2011 and Van Belleghem, 2010). For example in the case of DIESEL’s Pinterest efforts, COBRAs range from passively browsing the DIESEL Pinterest page, pinning DIESEL content on their own board, or even commenting or creating new DIESEL-related pins. It is important to realize that we do not limit ourselves to understanding only Pinterest-related actions. We want to understand the COBRAs of the current Pinterest user in all its facets, online and offline. We are also interested in learning more on the actions they undertook offline (e.g. word-of-mouth).
  15. 15. To build successful brand activations or, in the case of DIESEL, a valuable Pinterest page The activation model states that you should get insights in two aspects: Identification Previous research on explaining brand success (Van den Bergh, 2012) states that brand identification is a crucial condition for building engagement. Brands can only be successful if there is a large overlap between the brand and consumer identity. We need to understand what makes people tick - not only in the digital space but also in the real world. Who are the people who are currently engaging with DIESEL content? What is their lifestyle? How do they differ from consumers who do not engage with the brand? Why did consumers interact with the DIESEL content or with brand-related content in general? These can be extrinsic motivators (such as being paid or winning something), but they can also be intrinsic triggers (access to exclusive information, content and entertainment). 1 Content In addition, we need to understand how can we translate self-identification into the online world. Which types of DIESEL content and DIESEL-related content is the DIESEL target group using, spreading or creating? How should the content be executed? What style of content is contagious? Which format and execution works best for the true DIESEL fans in order to touch their hearts and minds and trigger their actions? 2
  16. 16. Challenge 2: Unlocking the power of images in research
  17. 17. The core of the DIESEL project was to optimize one of the leading visual based social media. In addition, the DIESEL case is also a showcase of how market research can make a better use of powerful images. Working with images also leads to new challenges for market research. Especially when it comes to analyzing visual content, there is a lack of clear guidelines - what exactly is the data? Moreover, truth is in the eye of the beholder. The same picture will be interpreted differently depending on who is doing the analysis. The challenge for analysis becomes even greater when looking at the social web where we see an explosion of visual content. We are left with the question of how we can best tackle these vast numbers of images. Visuals can increase the quality of the research. We all know that participating in research is often considered as too boring. As a result, participants engage minimally and with the intention of ‘getting through it’ as fast as possible, straight lining, speeding or simply dropping out. It is evident that visuals and video play a big role in improving the participant experience. Visuals draw more attention to surveys and reduce the cognitive effort it takes for participants to take part in the research (Mahon Haft & Dillman, 2010). Analyzing visual content Increase the quality of research
  18. 18. Visual reporting styles enhance client comprehension, recognition and belief in research results, memorization of conclusions and recommendations and client-side after-project activation. To practice what we are preaching, we wanted to try a non-conformist way of disclosing the research results to the DIESEL team as well as DIESEL’s agency. We therefore presented it in an art exhibition format, using modern museum techniques such as quiz interactions, visual displays, etc. In response to the trend where people are using pictures and videos to express their ideas, feelings and messages on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, we should give research participants the option to ‘answer’with a visual if this allows them to better express their opinion. By offering them an alternative channel of voicing their ideas, we might get access to new types of information. Visuals can help uncover new insights Visual reporting styles
  19. 19. We applied a hybrid methodology where all opportunities were embedded that images offer us. We started of by investigating some data on the current usage of the Pinterest pages. We collaborated with a social media monitoring tool, Octopin, specialized in collecting behavioral data on Pinterest. One nice feature of Octopin is that it does not only give insights in the number of followers, pins and comments of a page, but it can also automatically detect similarities between pictures by using automated pattern detection which is a first way to deal with the challenge of analyzing visuals. Octopin allows you to quantify the pictures efficiently. This way, we could easily identify current top content on the Pinterest page.
  20. 20. We also used existing Pinterest content as a base for netnography. Netnography is a type of ethnography where the user-generated content coming from individuals on social media is analyzed with the goal of finding new insights (Kozinetz, 1998; Verhaeghe at al., 2009). Just like the activation model states, we had to find out which online content the DIESEL target group was engaged in. Therefore, the goal of the netnography was to identify online personae for Pinterest. For each persona, we created a mood board comprising typical content that this persona would find engaging. To do so, we collected a random sample of boards from over 500 Pinterest users. Next, we created an online segmentation based only on the visual information. Instead of applying automated analysis, we decided to apply the guidelines for visual analysis put forward by Sara Pink (2001).
  21. 21. 1 Similarities and absence: Grouping pictures based on similarities or absence of certain themes. We started to group the different Pinterest users according to similarities between their pictures. This was done based both on shared common interests and on aesthetic themes. For example, we noticed that certain boards shared color palettes. It is important to mention that some boards were also clustered because they lacked the presence of certain themes. For example, fashion is one of the biggest categories on Pinterest; however, for some of the segments, this content was completely absent.
  22. 22. Intimacy: The focus and perspective of the images reveal something about the emotional distance and importance of the different elements in the picture. On Pinterest, we identified two typologies: on the one hand we had ‘portraits’ where the camera focuses on one or several subjects set off in focus from the background. Usually these subject take up to more than 50% of the picture plane. Portraits typically suggest intimacy and aspiration with an object. They can be utilized to identify passion points and may signal brand preference. On the other hand, we had images that we classified as ‘scenes’. Scenes focus the camera of a ‘mise en scène’ to describe the relationship between objects or moods in a given view. They typically suggest certain mood or values (such as sociability, wealth, tranquility, nature). The combination of portraits and scenes in a user’s post helped establish what their primary subjects of interest are. 2
  23. 23. Abstraction: Different categories should be grouped in higher-level conceptual constructs; in our analysis, we tried to apply several theoretical frameworks to the data. We applied for example the identification model (Van den Bergh & Behrer, 2013) to the pins by looking specifically at uploaded user-generated content. The rationale behind this was that we hoped to get a glance of the offline lifestyle through the user-created online content. The identification model specifies that some people like to express their identity by showing their skills whereas other people will express themselves more through their physical appearance and looks. We clearly found these theoretical constructs back in the data. Some segments had a lot of pins referring to crafts, cooking, DIY and household tips whereas other segments clearly pinned more fashion-, manicure- and fitness-related content. 3
  24. 24. The second group comprised active Pinterest users who did not follow DIESEL. The third group comprised people who were online but not active on Pinterest. The two latter groups were important because they represent potential new followers of the DIESEL Pinterest page; as such, their reaction to the current content is a reasonable measure of how successful we were with the existing Diesel Pinterest page. We recruited people through both the Survey Sampling International research panel and a special research pin that was placed on the DIESEL Pinterest page, which was intended to attract a sufficient sample of current DIESEL Pinterest followers. In total, we engaged 1,222 people: 205 followers of the DIESEL Pinterest page, 608 Pinterest users and 407 people of the target groups with an online presence. One of the main challenges of using social media (visual or textual) as the base for insight generation is the lack of profile information. To get a better understanding of what makes the DIESEL target group tick, we also conducted a digital survey to get a full understanding of the COBRAs. We connected with three distinct groups within DIESEL’s target (25-34 year-old non-rejectors of DIESEL) in the UK and the US. The first group comprised the current followers of the Pinterest DIESEL page. DIESEL had 5,657 followers at the start of the project and assessing this group could give us an idea of the current value of the Pinterest page. Moreover, we wanted to find out to what extent they could help DIESEL in further promoting the DIESEL content through their own networks.
  25. 25. People were presented with a mood board of content for each persona and were asked to indicate which mood board they found most engaging. By doing this exercise we identified content which was appealing for the current followers, the Pinterest users and also the online target group. As mentioned before, visuals can help increase participant experience. Since we were talking to the DIESEL target group, we understood more than ever that we had to make sure that this consumer touch point was also in line with other communication DIESEL was doing. According to the activation model, we measured brand identification, brand preference and brand knowledge (hearts and minds), current buying behavior of the Diesel brand, intention to visit the (online) store (conversion), online and offline word-of- mouth and recommendation behavior (advocacy). In addition, we assessed the lifestyle and profile of the different groups in our study to really identify what makes them tick. The survey also helped us link the digital personae we had found in the netnography to the DIESEL target group.
  26. 26. Throughout the setup of the survey we collaborated with the digital agency of DIESEL ‘Superheroes’ to create the look and feel of the survey (see figure 3). By using the power of pictures in this case, we also hoped to make the surveying process more pleasant for the participants. Figure 3 - Visually appealing survey for activation mapping
  27. 27. Visuals can be a great way to get higher quality answers on topics that are hard to express in words. To further understand the mechanisms and trends behind why a certain person finds a certain mood board attractive, we gave participants the opportunity to create a new DIESEL Pinterest board themselves in the survey. Instead of asking them through an open question what content they find engaging for the DIESEL Pinterest page, we involved them in an interactive, visual game. Participants were asked to create a Pinterest board they thought would be appealing for another participant in the study. Once they were done, their work was sent to another participant in the study for evaluation. This way of working revealed not only information on suitable content for the boards but also helped us to reveal the reason behind the engagement.
  28. 28. The Return On Images Images are the new currency. The Diesel project allowed us to test the real power of visuals. But how successful did we cope with our challenges?
  29. 29. Knowledge leverage With our approach, we wanted to detect new insights to build the DIESEL Pinterest strategy. One of the characteristics of a good insight is that it has an element of freshness. We had to get to DIESEL with new information, information they did not know yet. We managed to discover new insights in the following areas: First of all, we were able to estimate the value of the current DIESEL Pinterest pages and the potential to attract and engage new people. We discovered that although the current group of followers was limited to 5,657 people, which is a relatively small reach, the value of this group was excellent: 57% of the group have a very strong identification with the brand; 53% considered DIESEL as their favorite clothing brand and the average knowledge of DIESEL, including its sub-brands, was very high. When looking at their buying behavior, almost half of them indicated buying DIESEL frequently and [respectively 58% and 67%] were planning for sure to visit the online and offline stores in the next two months. It was clear that the followers of the page were true-type Diesel fans. However, despite this brand identification, the current followers were no advocates. To start with, the current followers of the DIESEL page did not engage sufficiently with the content. There were only a few pins, repins and comments regarding DIESEL’s original content. Estimate to value of the current DIESEL Pinterest pages
  30. 30. Estimate the value of the current DIESEL Pinterest pages In addition, we were able to detect how we could improve consumers’ engagement with the DIESEL Pinterest page by investigating self-identification within the target group. We applied the CRUSH identification model which states that consumers express their identity according to four dimensions (see both axes in figure 4). (Van den Bergh, Behrer, 2013) Figure 4 - Digital strategy for the DIESEL Pinterest Page
  31. 31. When looking at the group of Pinterest users among the target that were not following the DIESEL brand (indicated in figure 4 by the ‘P’ logo), we found that a substantial subset of them did not connect with this ‘change’ motivation. It was clear that attracting them would be a hard fit with the current brand positioning. However, among this same group, there was also a substantial number who were oriented toward ‘change in life’, but were much more we- oriented. Finally, we also looked at the target group with online presence (indicated in figure 4 by the WWW) who appeared to be definitely situated on the skills axis but were less extravert and less stimulation junkies. We detected that the majority of the DIESEL target (across the three subgroups - indicated in Fig 6 by DIESEL label - size of the label indicates group size) scored very high on the dimension ‘change’ (y axis). They appeared to be people who do not like status-quo in life and are mainly looking to maximize fun and excitement in life. This motivation was also present among the current group of Pinterest DIESEL followers, but in addition this group also scored high on the dimension ‘me’ (right side of the x axis): they wanted to impress people, buy trendy products and luxury brands, show their style and were generally a very good personification of DIESEL’s current slogan ‘for successful living’.
  32. 32. Considering the value of the current Pinterest DIESEL page followers, we wanted to provide content that would keep this group of people happy, as that could also encourage them to engage more with the current DIESEL content. Our analysis helped us to shape a strategic focus for the Pinterest page: 1 2 In order to broaden the scope of the page, DIESEL also wanted to attract more Pinterest users situated on the we-side of the scheme. Although both groups are quite far apart, they have in common that they score high on the ‘change‘ dimension. As such, DIESEL wanted to explore this axis with its content. 3 Finally, they decided to also add some boards that focused more on the skill axis. This way, they could again reach out to the Pinterest target group on the we- side but also additionally stimulate some people in the online target group.
  33. 33. Determine the right type of content We were able to determine the right type of content by linking our digital personas to the lifestyle segments that we based our strategy on (see figure 5). Figure 5 – Matching digital persona’s with strategic focus
  34. 34. The designer persona collects and disseminates visual content they find commendable and artistically inspiring. Good design is seen as cool and elevates users above mainstream popular culture which is ‘banal’, not ‘sophisticated’ or not ‘intellectual’. The hipster persona stands for the alternative counterculture consumer, inspired more by group art, design and independent music interests than by the mainstream consumptive society. They value creation and not simply consumption, or creative reuse of products. Finally, a substantial part of the online target of DIESEL that was not active on Pinterest and also situated on the skill axis were motivated by the ‘geek’ persona. Geeks use Pinterest to advertise outside affiliations, they are logo- centric, love computer games and cars and stress that they are part of an insider group. Our netnography revealed that there are at least 8 distinct online personae on Pinterest. The current followers of the page, situated at the change & me side of the model, were most engaged by the ‘high street’ persona. This persona mainly emphasized product consumption and aspiration as defined by consumer fashion magazine and celebrity styles in their boards. In addition, there was a substantial group of ‘model mainstream’, who are appearance-motivated consumers aspiring an exclusive educated, affluent young urban lifestyle, among the current fan base. In order to keep the current fan base on board, it was clear that the new DIESEL content had to be in line with both personae. In order to attract more people situated on the we-side, DIESEL could get inspiration from the designers and hipsters boards.
  35. 35. We also derived guidelines on how (style, format and tone of voice) the pins should be executed. For example: the top content of the current DIESEL page made it very clear that their current audience on Pinterest was very responsive toward quotes. Hence, as a general guideline, it was advisable to add several quotes to the different Pinterest boards to maintain current interest. Our recommendations were not limited to suitable themes
  36. 36. The successful leverage of knowledge was also confirmed in a small quiz and survey upfront, where both the DIESEL team and DIESEL’s digital agency had to predict the study’s results. The quiz revealed that our research clearly filled a knowledge gap for the team: the scores indicated that the team had few insights upfront on the value of the current Pinterest page regarding its effectiveness and relationship to their existing content strategy. During the quiz, we also gave the team a creative exercise during which they were asked to compose a board that would be engaging for their current Pinterest followers. When analyzing their selected images, we found that the digital strategy team mainly selected images from the Hipsters and Model Mainstream personae, while neglecting to include any images belonging to the most dominant online persona, the High Street. In addition, the fact that the DIESEL team consistently selected images from two personae demonstrated the validity of our digital personae. The results of the quiz where confirmed by a small satisfaction survey among the digital communication team: on a 5-point scale, the entire digital marketing team indicated completely agreeing that this study resulted in new insights. In addition, we obtained high scores on all items referring to clarity, ease of interpretation, simplicity, uniqueness and trustworthiness of the results (see Table 1). Table 1 – Results satisfaction research
  37. 37. Internal leverage Today, we see the rise of infographics together with a growing attention for new ways of data visualization. As we believe that images can be a good way to communicate effectively, we decided to make optimal use of them when presenting the insights to the digital communication team at DIESEL. Instead of just presenting the results in a standard presentation, we set up a research art exhibition, allowing the team to interact with the different results as image boards and discover the results in an image-based less mediated format. It is a well- known fact that art can be a very strong vehicle to channel emotions and trigger reactions. The mix of methodologies led to a wide range of new insights. With all of this rich data, the remaining challenge was to communicate our results in a way that the DIESEL digital communication team would know how to act upon the results. Visuals help to take down communication barriers between brands and consumers. They can help to better convey research results to our clients. We often make reports that are too lengthy to be processed by the average consumer, whereas we have the ability to explain our message through visuals in a (couple of) powerful images.
  38. 38. The first section was dedicated to presenting the online personae: for each persona, we created a mood board representing the type of content this persona finds engaging. To go beyond pure observation of these mood boards, we provided the team with several probing cards containing questions that went back to the principle of visual analysis outlined by Pink (2011). The visitors of the exhibition were challenged to look for similarities between different elements of the mood boards (similarities), to come up with evidence for an assumption they had about a certain persona (absence, abstraction, etc.). In addition they could also play the same game the participants had played in the survey: they were confronted with a collage made by one of the participants in the study and had to estimate if this content was engaging for a given persona. Our art exhibition was divided in three sections: 1 Fig 6 – scan this QR code to get an impression of the art exhibition
  39. 39. 2 In the second section of the exhibition, we featured the competitive online space. A first ‘piece of art’ contained top content from DIESEL’s competitors. Again, we stimulated the crowd to reflect upon the content by using probing cards. This time, the visitors were asked to put themselves into the shoes of their online target and estimate the reaction of this consumer based on the competitive online content. The consumer perspective was reflected in three Mondrian-like infographics showing the connectivity of the target group in the online space. 3 The final section was created to stimulate thinking on the current content of the DIESEL page. It contained a wall with top content and an infographic with the conclusion of the exit forum, describing the actions consumers would take if they were driving DIESEL’s strategy. In addition, the team could play a game during which they were asked to rank a selection of the existing pins on consumer appeal. Once finished, they could turn around the visuals to detect the research results and then reflect about their mistakes. Once all the team members had visited the exhibition, we brought the group back together to connect the digital strategy with the insights gained from the exhibition. For each of the spearheads within our new strategy, we used our inspiration and newly acquired knowledge to determine the content of new boards on DIESEL’s Pinterest page.
  40. 40. the results were inspirational, recognizable, concrete and illustrative for the consumer’s daily life and made the team feel closer to the consumer (see Table 2). It also increased internal leverage through conversational powers as the art exhibition participants of the DIESEL and Superheroes team indicated that they were going to talk about this study and share the insights with colleagues. People indicated they were going to use the results of this study in their daily job while making plans for the future and endorsing more consumer- oriented decisions. Overall, they valued the study as more valuable on average than other consumer research studies they had participated in in the past. Again, we also assessed to what extent the research led to an internal impact within the team. First, the qualitative feedback after the workshop illustrated the value of our visual approach. The art exhibition enabled a very tangible way to teach the team how to execute the new digital strategy. They felt that we had really brought the consumer alive beyond just reading a profile of a target group. They felt very involved during the workshop and as a result they had the feeling they had a better understanding of the conclusions of the research and were more capable of remembering and incorporating them. Our findings were again confirmed by the evaluation survey: Table 2 – Results satisfaction survey
  41. 41. The ultimate value of the study of course lays it the final usage of the results. Only a couple of weeks after the workshop, DIESEL started to use the insights and new approach to reshape their Pinterest page. As mentioned before, the majority of the current Pinterest followers appeared to be attracted by a mix of the ‘model mainstream’ and ‘High street’ personae, both profiles who really value fashion content. However, our analysis had demonstrated that Figure 7 - Beached out: moving from catwalk models to achievable fashion especially the model mainstreams were looking for more achievable fashion closer to their own lifestyle. The current looks displayed on the boards where often too hard to put into practice for this DIESEL fan base. They could not relate to it in their personal lives. There was also a call to feature the fashion industry more naturally, e.g. by featuring more behind-the-scene images or natural poses. Therefore, DIESEL decided to feature its swimwear collection in a natural environment in the ‘Beached out’ board (figure 7).
  42. 42. Our goal was to keep DIESEL’s current Pinterest followers engaged on the one hand, while broadening the scope on the other hand. To do so, we learned that a large part of the DIESEL target is constantly looking for stimulation. We discovered that we could express this need for ‘change’ through images that depict a challenge for people to get the most out of life. For example, we found that the most popular content often showed people partying or having fun with friends. Many pictures were referring to social drinking. DIESEL used this insight to create a new board called ‘Sunday rocks’ where style tips were shown for summer festivals such as Coachella. In addition, they created a board called ‘Before You’re Boring’ containing a “bucket list” of things one should definitely do in life (see figure 8). Figure 8: ’Before You’re Boring’: a board unifying ‘we’ versus ‘me’ segments
  43. 43. We also went deeper into the most appropriate content for people who express themselves mainly along the ‘skills axis’ of the identification model (Van den Bergh & Behrer, 2013). The results showed that there were three interesting distinct personae ho could bring inspiration here: designers, hipsters and geeks. Designers and hipsters really seem to be sensitive to both the content of the images and the overall color palettes (e.g. coherent boards featuring trending colors such as bright yellow, mono-chrome or sepia) and style (e.g. boards communicating a focus on details/close-ups of objects). Geeks on the other hand value technologies such as DIESEL watches and even the link to DIESEL’s cooperation with Ducati motorbikes. We brought this type of content to life in a board called ‘For Him Indoors’, which demonstrated a mix of design elements and technology in a neutral or mono-chromatic color palette (figure 11). Figure 9: For him indoors
  44. 44. External leverage In a final step we also assessed the external leverage of this DIESEL study. Did we succeed in increasing the value of their DIESEL Pinterest page? To assess this question, we asked the initial participants who took part in the activation mapping to follow the DIESEL Pinterest page (even if initially this was not the case) and asked their opinion on our new research-informed strategic content. We also monitored the behavior on the revived page through Octopin. Of the 296 people who took part in our final evaluation, 73% indicated finding the new content to be an improvement. The ‘Sunday rocks’ board, where DIESEL depicted fashion more naturally, was appealing (top 2) to 67% of the sample. Especially among the Model Mainstreams, one of the groups who expressed a desire for more achievable images of fashion, we saw a positive evaluation of this board. ‘Before You’re Boring’, created to appeal to everybody residing within the ‘change’ dimension, was rated as appealing by Designers (77% top 2) and Hipsters (70% top 2) as well as by High Street (85% top 2) and Geeks (82% top 2), four segments which reside on different edges of our framework. This result demonstrates that content reflecting ‘stimulation’and ‘change’ really unifies the DIESEL consumers. ‘For Him Indoors’ appealed to both the Designers (77%) and Geeks (71%). ‘Beached out’ got the best rating overall (82% top 2 overall) but was characterized by a very high top 1 score for Hipsters along the we-side of the scheme, as was intended (52% top 1).
  45. 45. In comparison with the start of our study and the measurement after one month of the new strategy, the number of followers increased by 25% (from 5,657 to 7,062). 28% of the DIESEL Pinterest page at the last assessment contained new content showing that DIESEL clearly incorporated the results of the study. This new content helped DIESEL to increase the number of likes and re-pins, 41% and 44% respectively, in only one month’s time. Although at the moment of writing this paper, the new strategy has only been implemented for a couple of weeks and therefore, it is hard to predict the future success of the page, we have already seen the first results on the quality of the page. Overall, 55% claim that the new content stimulates them to talk (online) about DIESEL; 59% say that the new content stimulates them to recommend the brand; 71% find they now have better knowledge of the Diesel collection and 65% state they identify more with the brand thanks to the new content. It seems that our strategy should also result in sales: 67% and 69% respectively claim they will visit the offline or online stores in the near future, whereas 59% say that the new content will lead them to buying DIESEL in the future.
  46. 46. Conclusion
  47. 47. This is where the real power of images is hidden: pictures appeal to all people, independent of background, profession or role because they are interpretable. While the DIESEL team was open to the vulnerability of this interpretation, they have reaped the benefits of courageously engaging with the COBRAs. Images will increasingly take a dominant role in our profession. They truly are worth ‘thousands of words’. We have reached the age of the image. It’s now up to the research industry and to marketers in general to adapt their offerings to the consumer trend that has already been illustrated by the successes of Instagram and Pinterest. Our study demonstrated a clear return of images in digital marketing. Pictures have never been so powerful! It comes as no surprise that brands are looking for new ways to best use these new visual platforms for brand activation and communication. In market research, we still mainly rely on the power of words and numbers; even when we use visuals, we do so with supplemental and static visual media, which are rapidly becoming outmoded. Although all types of data have their value, this case clearly shows that we should increase the usage of images in the future both in (digital) marketing strategies and in the research industry. We have shown in this paper that visual channels and communication methods improve connections between marketers/researchers and consumers as well as between research agencies and their clients.
  48. 48. Acknowledgements
  49. 49. This paper is the result of the efforts of from a larger team. The authors would therefore like to thank the following contributors: Filip De Boeck and Sam Omans for their work on creating the digital personae for Pinterest. Joost Van Eyck and Isabel Vandenbergh for their assistance in collecting the Pinterest pictures. Veerle Van Hoecke, Georgiana Murg, Kevin Gabbard, Constantin Ivanov, Sabinus Neculae, Alexandra Filipas, Alina Stanci and Diana Balotescu for the implementation and analysis of the Activation mapping. Survey Sampling International for their partnership on the data collection. Wouter Nuytten from Octopin ( for partnering up with us in the social media monitoring of Pinterest with his fantastic tool. We are also very grateful to Grace Cowlard of the digital agency hellosuperheroes ( for her openness and enthusiasm to cooperate with the execution of the Pinterest strategy and the copy and look and feel of the survey. Finally, we are extremely thankful to the entire digital marketing team at DIESEL for their collaboration in the art exhibition, satisfaction survey and quiz. Thank you!
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  53. 53. Annelies Verhaeghe Head of Research Innovation InSites Consulting Stefano Tabogo Global Head of Digital Marketing Diesel Joeri Van den Bergh Managing Patner & Co-founder InSites Consulting Alice Merlo Global Digital Marketing Junior Manager Diesel
  54. 54. Thank you! @InSites