Changes in Search and Consumer Behavior due to COVID-19

Sage Houston on April 19, 2020

The current advertising landscape has seen a complete shift in behaviour due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. All businesses have been forced to pivot to digital, if they did not already hold a strong online presence. Which makes a lot of sense, considering the whole don’t-leave-your-house rules, enforced in most countries.

In this article, we will look at some of the large and small changes happening around us in real time, as consumers adapt and adjust to their new climate.

The Stay at Home Economy

From at home workouts, to living room concerts, and free home delivery, brands have quickly positioned themselves to have their products or services consumed at home. Diplo, Charli XCX, John Legend and other artists have all put on great Instagram live concerts. This is great news if you’re like me, and had all your upcoming concerts cancelled.

People have a high expectation for brands digital fluency/adoption as well, and will quickly move on to the next business if one does not meet these requirements. This creates an ‘adapt or die’ landscape, where certain businesses which do not quickly cater to the stay at home economy, will be left behind. I’m sure a lot of you have discovered, with tears in your eyes, that your favourite local cafe, is not on UberEats.

The Stay At Home Economy

From the above graphic, it can be seen that media consumption is skyrocketing. (Anyone else been binge watching Netflix? It can’t just be me). This event presents a unique opportunity as a business, to be a part of that media consumption, if not already. Users are hungry for content, whether that be relating to health, fitness, nutrition, beauty, technology, or entertainment. Businesses can utilise all channels of social media (such as Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit) to have a voice during this time, and stay connected with their customers. You can read our Top 5 tips for social media during COVID-19 here.

Following on from this, Youtube in particular has seen a 57% increase in uploads from fitness related channels and creators. This statistic cements the demand of at home fitness, and shows that video content is taking the highest level of engagement. Unfortunately gym equipment has not been graced with a similar increase in supply. I stumbled upon a cinder block with a handle going for $200 on my local GumTree, with the seller having the audacity to call it a kettlebell.

The New Search behavior

Now more than ever, it is vital to maintain a paid media presence on Google. Part of that will be adapting to the trends and current behavior of searches. As we’re seeing a large influx of people working from home, desktop usage of Google has increased 23%. This presents an opportunity to emphasise desktop users in your targeting (device bid adjustments), while also fleshing out your websites with content to be desktop optimised.

Furthermore, searches relating to Fitness exercise equipment, has seen a monumental increase of 162% & searches relating to at home workouts have seen a WHOPPING 700% increase! People are looking for fitness solutions & services within their own home, which is a vital opportunity to meet the demand of. Behaviour When We Search Online

Additionally, as the above graph details, the time in which we make searches has dramatically shifted. During the day there has been a drop, however later at night there has been an increase of around 15%. These late night searches can be taken into account when making campaign optimisations and bid adjustments.

Ecommerce & Digital as the new norm

Many new forms of tech and commerce take years to be adopted by a wide range of age groups. In most cases, young adults take on, and adapt to new technology before anyone else. Young adults might be more than comfortable with FaceTime, while older generations might much prefer face to face. However, as this pandemic develops, we have seen people of all ages forced to adapt to digital versions of real experiences. Elderly users have taken it upon themselves to create Zoom, Discord and video calls to host gatherings, book clubs, and more. (My dad informed me that his quartet group, instead of singing together each weekend, have been singing over a group video call).

This would have been unheard of only a few months ago, however it’s use goes to show how much digital services have penetrated all demographics. Another key industry that has seen widespread use is ecommerce. All age groups, even boomers, have been forced to buy food, groceries, supplies, and other items all online.

Certain products and services such as virtual reality, video meetings, at home workouts, ecommerce, and much more, will all be accelerated, and their use, fast forwarded to where it would have been years in the future.

A key aspect to remember, is that many of these changes will be here to stay - and that’s mostly for the better. When the pandemic is over, the infrastructure for the elderly to buy supplies online, and for people to easily work out at home, will remain. It is vital as a business to adapt to these changes, however take into account their lasting effects, and plan accordingly.

What to remember

Digital is here. Search and consumer behavior is shifting to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic, producing the Stay At Home Economy.

This landscape presents a monumental opportunity, but only if you are willing to adapt with it.

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