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The Fancy: People’s Insights Volume 1, Issue 24

The Fancy, according to its about page, is ‘part store, blog, magazine and wishlist. It’s a place to discover great stuff, to curate a collection of things you love, to get updates on your favourite brands and stores and to share your discoveries’.

The objective of the social photo-sharing website created by Joseph Einhorn is to connect its users through shared tastes and interests.

The design and functions are modelled on Pinterest – people can ‘fancy’ (curate) items into lists.

Just like users pin their favourite items into lists on Pinterest, users can ‘fancy’ their favourite images into lists on The Fancy.

However, the content on The Fancy is different from Pinterest’s; it’s all about unique and rare items curated on the website.

As mentioned by Macstore reviewer, Lukas Hermann:

Fancy started as somewhat similar to Pinterest, where you can “Fancy” the gorgeous products that are found in the site. It’s a social photo-clipping service that’s very popular among people who like looking for unique and rare things.

The Fancy is also more about the kind of items/products that users desire, while Pinterest is more about inspiration, creativity and things to do. As mentioned by ‘Stylist’ writer Diana Nguyen :

A similar outline and display to online pin-board phenomenon Pinterest, The Fancy allows users to showcase more of what you want — travel destinations, food and material objects — rather than what’s inspiring or creative. And because the products are “Fancy’d” based on desire, the boards definitely showcase more of a high-tech and, well, fancy scale.

From cars to clothing, users can fancy items into 15 categories.

While Pinterest gathered a user base of 11 million, it still hadn’t created a major revenue stream.

The Fancy beat Pinterest by monetising its user-curated images. It announced in February 2012 that it would begin conducting transactions directly on its site. Earlier, the start-up linked items to third-party assets if users were interested in purchasing the item they ‘fancied’.

The Fancy takes a cut on each purchase.

This is an interesting strategy – especially for Pinterest, which hasn’t been able to monetise its popularity.

The move was lauded by social media enthusiasts and online buyers across the world. Forbes contributor Matt Miller wrote :

Buying items on the site is also a great financial move for Fancy, because they can take a cut of each purchase made on the site, as Mashable reported. This is an interesting strategy, especially for Pinterest, who hasn’t been able tomonetize(sic) the popularity of its site.

Mashable reader Ben Chua testified:

Yet to check out the site so no comments on Fancy.
But if you go to Quora and ask about reasons for the rapid growth of Pinterest, you’ll find Semil Shah’s FANTASTIC answer on how Pinterest can be a potential game changer- if, and only if, they can allow people to buy directly on the site from those pretty things they see there. And Fancy is doing that right now 🙂
Link to the Quora’s answer mentioned above – http://www.quora.com/Pinterest/What-is-driving-the-rapid-growth-in-daily-and-monthly-active-users-of-Pinterest

 

As far as the business model goes, what makes The Fancy brilliant is that while other social networks rely on advertising for revenue, The Fancy built a sustainable business model.

The process is simple. When a user fancies an item, brands and retailers bid to sell it. Once approved by the network, the seller sets the price based on the demand (number of fancies) and The Fancy gets a percentage of what the buyer pays.

Forbes writer Hannah Elliot explained the process in ‘Fancy turns impulse shopping into an art’ :

Here’s how it works. I spot a photo of a guy wearing Maison Martin Margiela boots on my favorite menswear blog, save the image, add a title and upload it to my Fancy feed. I link to the Margiela site, write a comment and file it under the “men’s” category. As the photo goes live, the notes I added join Fancy’s database, which indexes the boots thanks to the tags, title and key words in the comment section.

Soon after, a sales rep from Margiela checks the site and sees my post—or, if he has an account, gets an e-mail notice. Creating a listing for the new product in his vendor profile, the rep tags it with key attributes and submits it to Fancy, which checks to ensure the link between the photo and seller is legit and the product for sale is of a high quality.

This is different from most social commerce models. While brands and businesses try to reach out to consumers through spam mailers and deals on social media, The Fancy’s users look for products they like, while brands and businesses decide its price.

Founder Einhorn stated his understanding of the model:

What we’re saying is, let’s find out about the coolest stuff in the world through people who have amazing taste, and then we’ll ‘fancy’ it, and, if merchants and brands are seeing demand forming around a place or product that they want to sell, they’ll come to us.

In contrast, most social networks don’t have a monetisation strategy at launch and hope that the revenue falls in place through forced innovations.

Techcrunch reader Dan Farfan  wrote:

Terrific idea, TheFancy. Well done! Social media turned eCommerce has tons of potential. I like it when the startup has a clear business model instead of getting huge then breaking itself desperate for revenue. My startup does Social Media turned gaming (selling virtual goods revenue model, with a twist). People already posting billions of new photos on Facebook every month. Lots to play with.

Statistically speaking, while Pinterest has done an impressive job of driving traffic, The Fancy’s users seem far more engaged.

Pinterest’s 11 million users have generated over 32 million posts, while The Fancy – with just 250,000 registered users – has generated 16.7 million posts. Its users are generating 22 times the amount of content that Pinterest users are creating. This means that, on average, every The Fancy user is creating 66 posts, while on Pinterest the number drops to 3.
The gender demographic differs greatly too.

About 60% of this new site’s users are men, according to TechCrunch, compared to 31% on Pinterest. In fact, 97% of the people who liked Pinterest’s Facebook page are women.
This statistic might be obvious given the fact that clicking on Pinterest’s homepage leads to images of a silk taffeta dress, fresh strawberry cake recipe and an expensive pair of shoes, while on The Fancy it leads to images of an iPhone watch and an Audi Sport Quattro S1.

As mentioned by Techcrunch writer Sarah Perez:

For starters, Pinterest users are predominantly female, and seem happiest when pinning things like craft projects, recipes, funny quips about parenting, motivational sayings, decorative items for the home, and other types of photographic inspiration. Meanwhile, Fancy’s users are currently 60 percent male, and are more often posting consumer goods of the Fab.com variety; high-fashion clothes and accessories and photos of exotic locales.

This is an interesting statistic as, in the US, AdAge reported, women purchase more online. “… 12.5% of female internet users [made] an online purchase in February 2010, compared to 9.3% of men,” AdAge said.

The Fancy might attempt to incorporate more content that women relate to, in order to increase sales.

User engagement statistics prove that if The Fancy focuses more on driving traffic, it could be a major threat to Pinterest, given that it plays the same role with the added purchase option.

While comparisons to Pinterest are understandable because of the similar design and features, The Fancy prefers to think of itself as a competitor to Amazon as it considers itself a marketplace.

For merchants, The Fancy is a fully functional e-commerce platform – they can manage inventory, calculate shipping, print shipping labels.

Einhorn said in an interview with Bloomberg West:

We’re actually just trying to be like a newer version of Amazon.com. The big difference being on Amazon, you know what you’re looking for… whereas on our website you are finding out about the coolest stuff from people who have great taste.

As for Pinterest, Einhorn explained:

We’re really different in that rather than just being a broad self-expression platform or a broad discovery platform, we’re really laser-focused on trying to get people to buy things on our system, which I don’t think that site is doing.

The Fancy turns social discovery into social commerce. It provides the complete shopping experience by allowing users to ‘window shop’ by browsing through product pages. Users can discover products they like by browsing various categories. The advantage that The Fancy has over Pinterest is that it allows users to ‘shop’ as well as ‘window shop’.

‘Forbes’ writer Matt Miller wrote :

One thing that you can’t do on Pinterest –– that you can do window-shopping or in magazines –– is buy the stuff you’re looking at directly. This is where Fancy has the jump on Pinterest.

On Amazon and other online stores, users know what they want to buy and don’t discover new things they would like to buy along the way.

Striking user-curated photos, shopping opportunities via accidental discovery… it’s a new retail model in the making.

As stated by Sucharita Mulpuru, an e-commerce analyst at Forrester Research:

On TheFancy.com you never know what you’ll find: gorgeous photos of the Pacific Ocean off Samoa; young women in Fendi and Dior; artwork by Damien Hirst and KAWS. It’s like listening to Spotify instead of your own playlist, letting serendipity guide your shopping nose. The Web is very much about spearfishing and people looking for things they already know they want—that’s why Google has been so successful.

The Fancy provides a 360-degree online shopping experience.

The platform visually entices customers through its interface. Brands are starting to see the sense in operating on The Fancy, especially those that have visual and aesthetic appeal. Already, more than 800 brands have signed up.

The Fancy is a hit partly due to its developers’ understanding of the need for structured social curation, which has been around for a while. It can be compared to networking in the sense that it always existed offline.

There was always a need for curation, as Erica Friedman explained:

Once upon a time, back when we didn’t have the Internet, I remember folks spending an afternoon cleaning up their Rolodex files; pulling out old, unneeded contacts, updating others. Human nature doesn’t change. Needs don’t change. All that’s changed is the technology.

As social media evolved, long-form content, which can be a barrier to participation, changed to suit users’ requirements and the way they participated in conversations.

Pinterest and The Fancy understood that most users want to consume content in a structured manner rather than create it themselves, which is why experts predict 2012 to be the year of social curation.

Other social networks understand this too, which is why they are racing to incorporate push-button features. Whether it’s the Facebook ‘share’, Twitter ‘retweet’ or Tumblr ‘re-blog’, social networks don’t want to miss the curation bus.

The incorporation of social networking is said to be the future of e-commerce.

What you discover and buy is often a result of what friends or trusted inner circles recommend. This is why social networking will play a crucial role in highlighting products tailormade for the people, by the people.

If you follow people whose tastes are similar to yours, chances are that you’ll end up discovering many products that you want.

Social media experts like Elliot think that The Fancy combines the best attributes of networks to create a complete social e-commerce experience. About Einhorn, she said:

He’s a dangerous comer in e-commerce. His Fancy lets you buy high-end things on a website as eclectic as Pinterest, as stunning as Tumblr and as money-driven as Amazon.

The Fancy also updated its apps for the iPhone and iPad. Previously, the apps limited activity to browsing and collecting images, but they now allow users to make one-click purchases, making a successful transition from e-commerce to m-commerce.

By doing this, The Fancy has opened new avenues, entering a mobile retail market expected to touch $10 billion in the US this year, according to a Forrester forecast. By 2016, Forrester estimated, mobile retail sales will exceed $30 billion.

The service distinguishes itself via the content and the idea of combining the advantages of social networks with selling products to create a special mobile shopping experience.

Since its launch in February 2012, The Fancy has consolidated a user base of 250,000, generating an average of $50,000 in sales every week.

Many social media experts like WebAddict blogger, Yasser Buchana, predicted a social media major like Facebook taking over the start-up:

Fresh from announcing the acquisition of Face.com, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO is said to have joined. Furthermore, The site is said to have hit over a million users and growing — I could fancy, TheFancy being acquired by facebook anytime soon.

It would make sense for both parties as The Fancy would be able to incorporate more social tools and functions.

Perhaps it could get the interest graph more into play by adding a Pandora-like feature by which an algorithm would suggest products to buy on the basis of your Facebook likes, interests, hobbies or past purchases.

Some practitioners also said that The Fancy’s honeymoon period would end the day Pinterest adds e-commerce. A conversation between Flavio and Mark Evans on the Sysomos Blog  indicated that.

Flavio said:

I think, like you said, The Fancy is more like “buzzword” right now because is the same Pinterest equation but e-commerce added feature. Nearly being e-commerce platform i think pinterest focus is to add “personalization” and “identity” to users engaging brands online. I think sooner or later pinterest will add e-commerce factor to its platform but pinterest has much more presence than The Fancy does right now.

Mark Evans added:

I agree it’s only a matter of time before Pinterest embraces e-commerce. So far, it seems intent on building the user base and user experience before it turns on the e-commerce engine. Thanks for the comment. Mark

It’s more a question of when, rather than if, Pinterest will incorporate e-commerce. Till then at least, The Fancy can ride high.

(MSLGROUP’s People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform also enables our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities.

As an example, 50+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on corporate citizenship, crowdsourcing and storytelling on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the iPad-friendly People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.

As you can imagine, we can bring the same innovative approach to help you distill insights and foresights from conversations and communities. To start a conversation on how we can help you win with insights and foresights, write to Pascal Beucler at pascal.beucler@mslgroup.com.)

Originally posted on People’s Lab : People’s Insights Blog

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