Varun Kashiv Author's Perspective
5 Minutes read

Consumer Behavior in Times of COVID-19

The Consumer is Feeling Crisis

Millions of people are working from home, unsure of how long they will remain home-bound and how it will impact their health and jobs. According to a recent report by Earnest and Young, “Consumers – who are mainly over 45 – have seen the most impact on their employment. Almost a quarter have had their jobs suspended, either temporarily or permanently.”

People are deeply affected by the uncertainties around— health, safety, economic stability, and the whole bunch of restrictions presented by the outbreak. As they strive to adapt to the new reality of their lives, this entire situation is driving more people online for shopping. The digital connectivity is taking hold of consumers’ everyday habits, they have greater motivations, and fewer perceived barriers in actively seeking technology-enabled solutions to assist in everyday chores such as grocery shopping. This change in consumers’ behavior is primarily driven by anxiousness.

Brands need to prepare for this disruption of typical purchase trends. They need to understand their consumers’ fears, changed preferences, needs, and respond to it with a personalized marketing strategy, as the same approach will not work for everyone anymore. Brands will need to deal with this situation by meeting the changing consumer demands, enhancing the consumer experience, getting more interactive with them, answering their questions, and making fast deliveries-- which in return shall bring them consumer loyalty.

Here is a quick overview of the way COVID-19 has impacted the behavior of consumers in the CPG Industry:

  1. The Consumer is Digital: Almost the entire consumer base has shifted to an online purchase, which is performed after rigorous research. A lot of CPG brands aren’t available online still. It is time to adapt to the consumers’ new normal and be available where they are searching for you.
  2. Source: NY Times

  3. Product Delivery-Speed and Quality are the New Consumer Priorities:
    COVID-19 has changed the requirements of consumers, who now want information hygiene—through a complete transparency on how the product is being manufactured, packaged, and delivered. 88% also want the manufacturer to improve hygiene standards to help them fight corona outspread. Consumers also want more consumable content around the brand’s products for information such as buy /transact, coupons, where-to-buy-information.
  4. There is a Rise of New Consumer Intent.
    Here are some key emerging trends related to the changing consumer intent:

    • Kitchen is the new restaurant today, which spiked the demand for ‘How to’ video content.

      Customers want more information around the products sold by the brands. They want to know in how many ways can they use a product. For instance, searches for Recipe keywords have seen a dramatic increase. And there are brands in the market like Betty Crocker that are making most of this trend by answering these searches by rolling out ‘How to’ content, ‘Recipes’, ‘Learn about ingredients’ videos, and reviews.

      This image shows how the keyword trends and how these have gone up:
    • Rise in DIY and Learner Category of People, Searching for: “How to” Videos
      Consumers are widely searching for keywords related to: laundry & fabric care, laundry basics, removing stains (color, oil etc) that could help them perform the household chores like laundry and cleaning efficiently. Tide is answering this by focusing on “How to” laundry basics, cleaning etc. videos, and winning the traffic share by more than 30%.
    • Searches Related to Wellness and Hygiene
      People are widely searching for Vitamins, as they want to keep safe and want to build immunity against this pandemic. There was a sharp 61% rise in Vitamin Shoppe during the month of March.

      Let’s look at these stats (source: SimilarWeb):

Consumers Are Willing to Adjust, when it Comes to Making Personal Data Available

  • Consumers are fully aware that companies are watching their every digital move.
    72% of Americans report feeling that all, almost all or most of what they do online or while using their cellphone is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies. (Source: pewresearch)
  • 53% percentage of consumers in our would make their personal data available if it helped to monitor and track an infection cluster – (Source: EY)

Consumer Sentiment has Changed

These stats picture the consumers’ new approach (source: SimilarWeb):

  • The traffic of search in the cooking and recipe category has risen by more than 11% during the COVID period, while the grocery category grew by 38% pushing restaurants and delivery category out of the top 3 spot.
  • There is a clear difference in the search keywords- during COVID period, almost 70% of the searches were for supermarkets and online grocery deliveries as compared to pre-COVID period, where 50% of the keywords were related to food delivery.
  • Searches for online grocery grew steadily from March and the traffic to major online grocery players like Walmart, Grofers, MetroMart and Pushkart grew by more than 500% on average.
  • The messaging of top ads in pre-COVID phase had a mix of healthy food, price point focus, coupon, etc. while in the COVID phase, messaging has clearly focused on delivery and price point.

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The question is, will this shopping pattern continue to show even post-COVID-19? Or how can CPG companies prepare for tomorrow, while handling the situation today? Answer to all these questions lies in re-modelling the business to make it future proof, digitally. It is time to establish a personalized connect with the consumer and evolve with them, to stay relevant for them.

Varun Kashiv Director, Customer Experience at Altudo

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