How has the coronavirus outbreak impacted consumer purchase behaviors and intentions?

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A report produced by Influencer and GlobalWebIndex has published new findings on consumer purchase behaviors and intentions, following the coronavirus outbreak.

The report found that online shopping has seen a huge long-term boost, with around one-third of consumers in the U.S. and the UK saying they expect to shop online more frequently following the outbreak and a similar percentage of consumers in the U.S. and the UK also expecting to shop in-store less often in the future. This is likely down to safety concerns but also due to the fact that the convenience of online shopping has become increasingly apparent.

Many categories are set to benefit from this increase in online shopping, including food/grocery products, household essentials, personal care products, clothing, and personal electronics. In the context of the pandemic, it’s important to remember that a key challenge for consumers in the face of disrupted supply chains and limited availability has been sourcing both the essential and non-essential categories they need online. Being an important bridge between consumers and products has given social media content creators a unique position in overcoming this challenge, ultimately reinforcing their importance as brand discovery and recommendation touchpoints.

The report found that the top categories that consumers who follow influencers have purchased over the past two months are beauty/personal care (52%), fashion (39%), entertainment subscriptions (31%), and food delivery services/cooking kits (28%). Fashion and beauty/personal care also retain the top positions for future purchases as well, remaining high across generations, income levels, and gender. Interestingly, beauty/personal care is the top category purchased by men and women, highlighting this category’s potential across gender.

The report also found that around a third of consumers who follow influencers have purchased an entertainment subscription, reaching 40% among Gen Z and making it their top category purchased. Netflix and Disney+ have both benefited from social isolation. Netflix added 15 million new subscribers within roughly 4 months this year and Disney+, which launched in November 2019, has already racked up 50 million subscribers, growing much faster than its rivals did. A further 1 in 4 of this group also expects to purchase an entertainment subscription in the next 2 months, so even further growth could be on the horizon.

Two areas that have seen impressive growth are food delivery services and education platforms. Food delivery services such as Deliveroo are expected to be used more frequently, while around 40% of consumers globally anticipate they will eat out at restaurants less frequently. The report states that close to 3 in 10 have purchased food delivery services/cooking kits in the past 2 months and 1 in 4 plan to purchase in the next 2 months. This is yet another example of behavior that’s expected to change more long-term and opens up a whole host of opportunities for food delivery and meal kit providers.

Learning platforms can also be expected to have a more visible presence in the future. Close to 30% of consumers globally said they had spent more time on them during the outbreak, rising to 44% among Gen Z. And, crucially, a fifth of this youngest cohort expects to continue this after the outbreak is over. Additionally, education platforms see an increase in purchase intentions too. The report found that around 1 in 5 of consumers who follow influencers say they plan to purchase education services in the next 2 months. This demand is again mainly driven by Gen Z and millennials and highlights the potential for learning platforms going forward.

Read the full report here: The Age of Influence: How Covid-19 has propelled brands into the era of influencer marketing

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