Consumer Behavior During COVID-19

We are continuing to monitor how consumer behavior has shifted as a result of COVID-19, with shelter-in-place orders, lockdowns, and social distancing in effect. Although people are spending less money overall, more commerce is moving online at the same time — for many businesses, it’s the only viable revenue source right now. We encourage businesses to establish an online presence as soon as possible, if they don’t have one already.

In our previous blog post (Consumer Behavior During COVID— Part 1) we highlighted the increased demand for products across a range of categories, from kitchen and office supplies to educational tools and games. Let’s look at some more product categories that are in-demand as consumers change their habits or seek home-based alternatives to daily routines. We see an increased demand for health and safety products, some grooming and self-care items, workout gear, crafting and hobby supplies, plus evergreen and seasonal items.

Health and safety are priorities for everybody right now. People are looking for a sense of security and order. As a result, cleaning supplies, medical products, security products, and survival gear are in demand.

eCommerce for Covid - Cleaning supplies, medical products

It goes without saying that disinfectant, hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, and paper goods are selling out as quickly as they’re restocked in many places, even causing Amazon’s FBA program to freeze shipments of non-essential product categories to their warehouse through April 5. Some boutiques and distillers have remodeled their businesses to produce hand sanitizer in the meantime. In addition to cleaning supplies, air purifiers, vitamins, and other immuno-boosters are in demand.

This sense of scarcity and uncertainty about future supplies is fueling an interest in survival gear such as camping food and food storage solutions. People want to be stocked up for the unexpected. Water filters, lights, generators, batteries, first aid, and weapons are products that have seen an increase in consumption as well.

Amazon’s Best Sellers in the Camera and Photo category

Greater interest in home security means wireless surveillance cameras are selling well on Amazon.

March 2020 was the month with the second-highest number of gun sales ever in the US. Meanwhile, a look at Amazon’s Best Sellers and Movers & Shakers in the Camera and Photo category shows that wireless security cameras have surged in popularity.

As people continue to grapple with how to fill empty hours while social distancing and staying at home, some are looking to develop new hobbies or rediscovering old ones. Sewing and crafting materials are selling, interest in online music lessons is high, and concert venues have turned to live-streaming.

Extra time spent at home and increased focus on budgeting can mean that we’ll see an increase in crafting and homemade gifts. Forbes recently published an article about a company called “We Are Knitters.” They sell knitting supplies, and they’ve seen a 75% increase in sales recently. The owners said that many of their customers consider knitting a way to reduce their anxiety at this time. Knitting was already seeing a resurgence in recent years, but we anticipate that more people will be looking to buy their supplies online now.

Sewing machines have moved into the top 50 best-selling products in Amazon’s Arts, Crafts & Sewing category. Recent reviews of a Singer sewing machine on Amazon indicate that some customers purchased their sewing machine specifically to make surgical masks. Elastic cord and bandanas are also selling well, which is likely related to people making masks for COVID-19.

Quilting and jewelry-making are likely to be popular at this time. Some of the hobbies that people are turning to during COVID-19 may resemble activities that they engage in during cold winter months, with fewer opportunities for outdoor activities. Canvas panels, acrylic paints, and brushes are also bestsellers on Amazon.

Trending search term for piano lessons online

Interest in online piano lessons in the highest it’s been over the past year.

Other arts have found ways to continue in virtual spaces. Musicians are hosting online music tutorials and offering music lessons to the homebound. Google Trends shows that interest in the search term “piano lessons online” is the highest it’s been over the past year. Live-streaming equipment and recording gear are vital tools for teachers giving lessons or for musicians who want to put on virtual concerts for their fans. Many venues are putting on concerts without live crowds and streaming the shows online.

Interest in self-care and wellness is high, and we see an increased demand online for some grooming items, health products, fitness gear, adult toys, and similar items across a range of categories.

Pinterest recently shared some trending searches from its platform with its partners. There has been a doubling in searches for “at home workouts” and workouts with no equipment. For people looking to work out with no equipment, we still think that yoga mats and other wellness lifestyle products will be appealing. Sports bras and other fitness attire are selling online. We expect workout-adjacent products, like water bottles, wireless earbuds, fitness trackers and supplements to continue to be in demand.

Consumer Behavior During COVID-19

Source: Pinterest

Some people prefer to exercise with equipment. Gyms are closed or off-limits, so people are turning to workout gear they can use at home or outside, like resistance bands, exercise mats, kettlebells and weights. Fitness gear is one of the product categories that lends itself well to visual promotion, because potential customers like to see the products in action, and see the results at the same time. Social media sites, like Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram can be great places to sell fitness gear, especially through videos. On Instagram, it can sometimes be difficult to direct customers from a social post to the right product on a seller’s website, unless the customer finds the item through an ad. However, Checkout on Instagram allows the creation of shoppable posts; sellers can tag their products directly in a post, and the transaction can take place right through the Instagram app. There are also opportunities for sellers to work with influencers or creators to get their products in front of customers. We posted other tips for selling with Checkout on Instagram recently, so check them out if you want to know more!

Self-care can mean many things. With salons and barbershops closed, we expect more people to take matters into their own hands (and thanks to minimal socializing, the risk of cutting one’s own hair is less daunting). Hair trimmers, eyebrow razors, and nail kits have made jumps in the sales rankings on Amazon’s Movers & Shakers in the Beauty & Personal Care category in recent weeks. We have also seen hair root color spray and dyes move up, which makes sense as previous dye-jobs grow out or fade.

An article on Wired explains how a variety of factors have led to an increase in sex toy sales. Whether people are using them alone or spending more time with partners, online sales have gone up substantially. Condoms and lingerie are also selling, and we anticipate similar results for other sex-adjacent categories.

Some product categories are seasonal or evergreen, and we expect them to be resilient at this time. Pet supplies are evergreen. Home improvement typically goes up in the spring, and gardening projects are popular as well.

Pet food and pet supplies are still selling. And since more parks and brick-and-mortar locations are closed, we anticipate that sales of pet toys and other accessories will also be primarily taking place online. Grooming appointments are cancelled, so pet owners might practice cutting their pet’s hair before attempting to cut their own. We’re not saying it’s a good idea, but we’re not saying it’s a bad one, either.

We expect Do-It-Yourselfers to tackle home improvements and check tasks off their list of needed repairs. Home improvement stores get busiest in the spring, when major chains like Lowe’s and Ace Hardware look to hire seasonal workers; both companies recently announced that they planned to hire 30,000 new employees each. Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison said that Lowe’s experienced an increase in sales — appliances, seasonal items, and home improvement items were popular. Having college students at home could mean that the water heater needs an upgrade, and that people stocking up on food are looking for another freezer. The chore list that we’ve been putting off weekend after weekend is getting some attention. Is it finally time to paint the garage?

eCommerce COVID-19

We think gardening will grow in popularity, as it did in 2009.

Gardening supplies and seeds are also selling well. This is partly due to the season, but also a result of people trying to prepare for the worst and looking to produce their own food supply. An article from the Calgary Herald reported that seed sellers have seen an increase in people looking to grow edible plants. One of the garden centers moved to online-only sales, which they say helped them with “what could have been a little bit more of a difficult sales season.” We think that gardening supplies will also trend up as a result. With summer approaching, we also think that inflatable pools, lawn games, grilling supplies, and other items like hammocks, swings, and lawn chairs will continue to survive online.

Selling online is essential for businesses at this time. We continue to improve our technology and offer best-in-class service for all our clients. Book a demo with Feedonomics today to see how an optimized product feed can help with your needs.

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Brian Roizen is the Cofounder and Chief Architect of Feedonomics, a full-service feed optimization platform that optimizes product data for hundreds of channels. He has been featured on numerous podcasts and eCommerce webinars, and regularly contributes to Search Engine Land and other industry-leading blogs. Brian graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.