Research: Marketing to Confined Consumers

For the first few weeks into this pandemic, consumers were focused almost entirely on COVID-19 and were only interested in buying items that would help them through it. For most businesses, that meant their traffic and engagement dropped dramatically.

Now that working from home has become the new (if temporary) normal, consumers are focused on passing the time and distraction. Naturally, they’re heading to the internet and specifically to social media, in search of content. The situation has presented a unique marketing opportunity to engage consumers, in an environment that is currently less saturated with competitors.

Marketing to Confined Consumers

It’s All Temporary

Dismissing the impact of the pandemic as a temporary slump, can multiply the damage to your business and result in missed opportunities.

“If your engagement rates have dropped off a cliff, it means that you’re not sharing content people care about,” says Christopher Penn. “It’s not stuff that people want to engage with. So consider pivoting and changing things up.”

Then, keep an eye on statistics, analytics and SEO data.

“Look at what is resonating with people. Look at what people do engage with, and try your best to create content that mirrors the intent of that content.”

Online Shopper Behaviour

“StatCan says e-commerce sales hit a record $3.9 billion in May, a 2.3 per cent increase over April and 99.3 per cent increase over February,” reports Castanet. “E-commerce sales more than doubled year over year, with a 110.8 per cent increase compared with May 2019. The report found that all 11 retail subsectors with e-commerce sales saw those sales increase.”

IZEA fielded two studies focused on the Coronavirus impact on influencer marketing. They used the data to assess potential impacts and opportunities that household confinement due to COVID-19 may have. The below results provide insights to guide your marketing efforts.

Ninety-nine percent of social media users surveyed said they will buy something online if they’re isolating at home:

  • 92 percent will purchase groceries
  • 85 percent will order medication online
  • 61 percent predict they’ll pay for media, games and entertainment. Those with kids at home are 31 percent more likely to do so.
  • 57 percent will spend on their wardrobe
  • 48 percent will purchase home electronics, computers and tech products
  • 47 percent expect to pass the time on home improvement, ordering DIY supplies online.
  • 40 percent hope to stay active at home and will order fitness gear
  • Those who love to travel will be 77 percent more likely to book a vacation while they’re stuck at home. Business travelers are almost twice as likely to book a trip.

The Rakuten affiliate network reports the top performing verticals in Canada in March were luxury, department stores and software.

Snapchat reported a heightened interest in online shopping for athleisure, pet products, home goods, food delivery, fitness and wellness, mobile gaming and hobbies.

“We’re still seeing spending across key retail categories, including apparel, department stores, luxury and beauty,” reports Rakuten Advertising. “We’re also seeing consumers start to focus their spending in areas that will help them manage through their new temporary normal – from products that aid in working from home, to sports gear for at-home workouts, to stocking up on food and drinks, to games, activities and educational products to keep kids entertained while they’re stuck indoors.”

“Since the crisis began, we’ve seen a boost in the finance, healthcare, and entertainment verticals,” affiliate CEO, Erin Cigich, told MThink. “This boost is creating a huge opportunity for vertical marketers to capitalize on the increasing need for digital access to essential goods and services, entertainment, and education – and performance marketing is the most accountable and adaptable marketing method to reach those consumers.”

The MaxBounty affiliate marketing network writes, “Nobody is flying or traveling. This means travel campaigns are obviously a vertical that has lost its value for the time being. Alternatively, health and financial verticals could be inversely affected.”

Impact of the Coronavirus on Online Consumer Behaviour

Where will people visit more than usual to consume content?

IZEA survey participants said they’d visit the following platforms more often:

  • 64 percent said they’d use YouTube more often
  • 63 percent will be on Facebook more often
  • 43 percent said their use of Instagram would increase
  • 34 percent will spend more time on Twitter
  • 33 percent will indulge in perusing Pinterest more often
  • 25 percent said they’d use Snapchat more
  • 25 percent will spend more time on blogs
  • 15 percent will be on LinkedIn more often
  • 12 percent said their use of TikTok would increase
  • 10 percent will spend more time on Twitch

Seventy-three percent of participants said they use social media to discover and research products & services. When asked where they’d advertise if they were marketing to confined consumers, 86 percent of participants suggested social media influencers, closely followed by 83 percent who liked social media advertising. Seventy-nine percent thought banner (display) ads on websites would be a good bet, while 78 percent suggested search marketing was the way to go.

“Digital now accounts for 53.3% of total media time spent in Canada (5 hours, 32 minutes), pushed even higher than previously expected due to digital media preferences during COVID-19,” says eMarketer in their Canada Time Spent with Media 2020 report.

How to React & Refocus

The worst thing you can do during any economic downturn, is slash your marketing budget. You’ll need marketing more than ever. However, it IS a good time to to analyze your marketing and focus on what works best. If your marketing budget does shrink, you’ll know which strategies to put on hold and which ones will pay off.

Most companies are now more strategic when it comes to utilizing the internet for sales and lead generation, and it’s paying off. Universal data shows the most effective and economical online marketing tactics revolve around content, influencer campaigns and blogger outreach.

Generating content that’s useful, reliable and timely isn’t a new thing. What’s often missing is the constant evaluation of what that looks like at any given time.

“Content may rule, but your online content must be the right sort of content: Customer-focused. Authentic. Compelling. Entertaining. Surprising. Valuable. Interesting,” writes Ann Handley in Content Rules. “In other words, you must earn the attention of people.”

During these troubled times, it’s important that your marketing be laser-focused on helping consumers. They need you and you need them. Helpful, authentic and sensitive content and communication will earn the trust of consumers and turn them into loyal customers. Your efforts will help to bring you (and them) through this crisis relatively unscathed.

? You may also be interested in reading:
2020 Multi-Source Report: The Canadian Online Shopper
Learn YouTube Marketing for Your Small Business (Infographic)
Canadian Businesses and Influencers Must Disclose Advertising on Social Media


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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on, and, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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Weed Delivery

Hello! Thank you for this really important and useful article. I think that the pandemic brought us not the only bad things in business but and good ones, too. Everything online and everything delivered to your home may be the safest wave of the future. It’s also extremely efficient. It saves money in the long run. Fewer commutes, less business attire, fewer large buildings for certain industries, no school buildings, etc. Maybe less income tax as well. I think it’ll have a good influence on each of us in the perspective.