To better understand the effects of COVID-19 on consumer behavior, leading tech-driven cross-border marketing company, Westwin, has conducted new and extensive research on global search traffic data and consumers from US, UK, Australia, Japan and Russia.
Taking an international perspective, the observable changes can be categorized into three main areas: what people are buying, what people are doing during quarantine and where people are looking for information.
Hot Products – What are people buying?
The changes in consumer habits as a result of COVID-19 have been observed differently in different countries around the world. Aside from the obvious increase in purchases of face masks, hand sanitizer and other healthcare products, canned and long-life food products have also been purchased in bulk. For Western countries, essential foods such as soy-based products (increase 63%), rice (58%), chickpeas (47%), milk powder (126%), water (42%) and canned meats (58%) saw month-on-month increases.
Japan saw a similar focus on long-life foods with a 10 times increase in the sale of frozen foods and a 550% spike in sales of garlic, with black garlic – a key ingredient of immune-boosting black garlic and honey drink, rising more than 20%.
These increases happened alongside a severe shortage of toilet paper in Australia, where local consumers bought in large quantities.
Stuck at Home – What are people doing?
With the temporary closure of non-essential businesses around the world, many people are adjusting to a life of reduced mobility. This new life entails more home cooking (kitchen utensils, gadgets and shelving sales increased by 700%, 321% and 210% respectively in China alone), exercising, enjoying digital entertainment and spending time with family and children.
For many, the desire for companionship has resulted in them choosing to own a pet, this has led to a tenfold increase in the number of pets being adopted from animal shelters in New York and many shelters reporting an unprecedented lack of available pets.
According to Westwin global search traffic data, in addition to pet trainer equipment and other supplies, smart home supplies such as auto-cleaning robots, dish-washing machine are also being purchased, since consumers are spending more at home and are willing to invest in a more comfortable living environment. Meanwhile, HDMI cables and projectors to turn living rooms into home theatres also saw a spike in sales.
Accessing Information – Where are people looking?
The final significant change is the way in which people search and the channels they use to access information. Leading the pack for official pandemic-related information is official government websites, respected media outlets and Instagram.
Respondents in some regions also reported accessing the official WHO website or Apple News.
Social media has seen a spike of usage with short-video platform TikTok reporting a total of 5.5 billion views relating to “coronavirus” as of March 2020. This number is reflected in the dominance of short-video platforms in China, recording a 5.5% year-on-year increase and overtaking mobile games as the most consumed media during the Chinese New Year holiday.
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As consumers adjust to life at home, the role and adoption of online shopping around the world are changing. These changes represent enormous opportunities for brands to open new markets. Particularly for online services such as office, online education and eCommerce applications.
Westwin, formerly known as Microsoft Online (MSN China), is a leading technology-driven digital marketing company that focuses on cross-border business. It provides branding strategies and digital marketing solutions to help clients achieve success in China and around the world.
They are a certified marketing & advertising partner of Baidu, Tencent WeChat, Sina Weibo and more major digital platforms in China. With years of experience in cross-border business and partnership growth, Westwin is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to take businesses to the next level in overseas markets.