New data from Polyvore shed light on its user base as the tech company gets smarter about its audience.
This story first appeared in the December 12, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Top 10 lists, released on Thursday, show fast-fashion chains continuing to dominate, while Nars and MAC scored big in the beauty department.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company allows users to create mood boards from styles or beauty products they like and then share those digital collages with friends and the rest of the world.
The seven-year-old company counts about 20 million unique visitors monthly and helps funnel shoppers to sites such as Net-a-porter, Burberry, Zappos and Piperlime, among others.
Fast-fashion retailers Topshop, H&M and Forever 21 claimed the number one, two and three spots, respectively, on the list of the top-10 brands users searched for during the year.
“They’re all supertrendy, all very fashion-forward, but they’re affordable,” pointed out Polyvore editorial curator Amy Wicks. “Our members — who are 18 to 34 [years old] — they love a trend, but they love it at a great price.”
Others that made the list included Wet Seal, River Island and Asos. Nars was the only beauty company to make the top 10 of brands.
The top-10 list is based on searches and mainly reflects the tastes of Polyvore members (a smaller part of a broader audience that includes people who aren’t creating collages); the list doesn’t necessarily translate into actual sales or what people are pasting into their digital collages. As for why more true fashion brands didn’t make the list, a Polyvore user could have a lot of Chanel products in their collage, but it could spur people to look for the more-affordable option via H&M or Topshop.
A striped cropped sweater from A.L.C. was the number-one searched-for top, while Mavi’s Serena slim-fit jeans topped the bottoms category.
Polyvore’s rise speaks, in part, to the shifting world of merchandising in which bloggers and online communities have assumed, in some ways, the role merchandisers traditionally played in prodding consumers to make a purchase.
It’s how Polyvore managed to have an average order value of $383.34 at the end of last year, beating out Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter, according to San Francisco-based RichRelevance. Pinterest was the next closest contender, with an average order value of $199.16.
“If you look back maybe five, 10 years before things like Instagram and Facebook really picked up, the main way to get the latest trends was to pick up a magazine,” Polyvore chief executive officer and cofounder Jess Lee said. “You didn’t have as much information or access to information. These days, younger people go to sites like Instagram or Polyvore or what their friends are doing, so the distribution of the information has become fragmented and democratized.”
About half the collages, or sets, created through Polyvore are made from mobile devices and, added to the Polyvore iOS app in September, personalization software, which selects items based on individual tastes. To start, users are asked to select their favorite outfits from a set of prearranged styles; then, based on those selections, the personalization technology generates a feed of more clothing and accessories to peruse.
Lee, a former Google product manager who landed herself a job at Polyvore after voicing her grievances with the technology’s usability, said the company’s projecting growth this year but declined to provide a revenue figure. The company has been profitable for the past two years, she said.
It closed on a $12 million Series C round in 2012, at which time Lee was named to the top spot, and former Adly ceo Arnie Gullov-Singh was named chief revenue officer.
Lee said Polyvore aims to be in “several lifestyle categories next year” but would not elaborate, saying only that, eventually, she would like to expand into men’s wear.