- Consumer search and purchase behavior has changed over the past few weeks as the spread of coronavirus — which causes the illness COVID-19 — has increasingly affected life in the U.S., per a new report from DISQO that was shared with Marketing Dive.
- The researcher analyzed consumers' purchasing and online search behavior on the weekend of Feb. 29 to March 2, and then again on the following weekend March 7 to 9. COVID-19-related page views from the first weekend were 59% higher than the prior week, and continued to increase as the outbreak spread across the country, the research revealed. Cleaning supply purchases rose 32% week-over-week, and personal health sales rose 24%.
- While 46% of people reported making purchases in response to COVID-19, 67% said their shopping habits had not fundamentally changed. For example, 41% of consumers bought cleaning supplies in the second weekend, but only 13% said they "stocked up."
The past few weeks have been a trying time for most Americans and consumers around the globe. Several weeks ago, some consumers were hoarding toilet paper to prepare for uncertain scenarios, and after the weekend of March 7 to 9 — the second time frame analyzed in the report — many people grappled with school closures and working from home as they participate in social distancing.
While retailers, travel brands and restaurants are bearing the brunt of closures and city-wide lockdowns, grocery stores and some CPG brands may inadvertently benefit. As people stock up on cleaning supplies and shelf-stable items like pasta, these companies are seeing a sales bump, Nielsen found. This initial buying change-up could just support future losses, but companies in these categories may survive the storm less damaged as consumers focus on eating at home and cleaning to prevent the illness' spread.
Brands in the grocery and CPG categories, in particular, have an opportunity to reach shoppers that are ordering online or making lists for their grocery hauls. Their messaging must be extra sensitive amid the current state of the world, where many people may feel anxious and uncertain. Several brands, such as Hershey, Coors and Ford, have paused their marketing campaigns out of an abundance of caution to prevent their ads from being perceived as insensitive or ill-timed during the pandemic.