- Mobile usage has increased during typical working hours, possibly indicating that consumers are using their smartphones while also relying on their desktop computers to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, per a press release about a new study from Valassis. Consumers also are staying up later on weekdays while using their phones.
- Mobile users have tended to increase their usage of web browsers rather than apps as their media consumption habits change. The growth in internet usage is linked with consumption of information rather than entertainment. Consumers have tended to view more serious topics like finances, the economy and healthcare, while cutting back on lighter topics like celebrity entertainment news.
- Location data revealed unsurprising results as authorities ordered lockdowns on public gathering places. Visits to colleges, concert halls, theaters, airports and bars all declined in late March amid the restrictions on travel, according to Valassis.
Valassis' research indicates a marked change in mobile consumer habits during the early days of the pandemic in the U.S., which may be useful for marketers as long as lockdowns are in place. The study, whose last data point is from March 23, shows a key difference in mobile usage that month, when the pandemic led many cities and states to order the closure of "non-essential" businesses. With many people stuck indoors, they are using their smartphones to connect with the outside world.
The Valassis study includes information from RetailMeNot, the digital couponing service, that shows some differences in spending habits from March 15 to 22. Consumers showed greater demand for products such as books and news, electronics, food and entertainment and toys, a sign of doing more stay-at-home activities. It remains to be seen how demand will shift as lockdowns end.
The location data revealed some surprises, such as higher visits to massage studios and bowling alleys, likely indicating that people were looking for a distraction to relieve some of the stresses of the pandemic. Those businesses have been closed in many cities and states, and visits are likely to rebound at least somewhat. Businesses that provide places for people to gather will have to implement safety procedures to provide their customers with greater peace of mind.