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It's tempting to take the impressive macro numbers in ecommerce growth over the past few months and use them as a guiding light for adjusting long-term commerce strategy. But these numbers don't reveal how consumer habits have changed since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The most recent Digital Shelf Virtual Summit session featured Andrea Leigh, VP of strategy and insights at ecommerce optimization platform Ideoclick, and KC Madock, North American digital marketplace management lead at consulting firm Accenture Interactive.
Leigh and Madock have dug deep into the numbers to figure out what the "new consumer" really looks like, how they are shopping, what they are shopping for, and their impression of the future.
"It's time to get reacquainted with your consumers," said Leigh.
In January 2020, Leigh says the top five search terms on Amazon were "iPhone 11 case," "AirPod case," "AirPods," "wireless earbuds," and "Apple Watch band."
In April 2020, Leigh said the sentiment had changed drastically, with the search trends aligning with new needs: "toilet paper," "face mask," "hand sanitizer," "paper towels," and "Lysol spray."
According to Leigh, June 2020 shows even more changes: "face mask," "pool," "face mask reusable," "Clorox wipes," and "hand sanitizer."
It's clear what has been top-of-mind for consumers evolved from the "old normal" to what Leigh terms the "apocalypse."
Now that consumers have adjusted to social distancing guidelines, we're beginning to see some "traditional" searches creep back into the top search terms. (For example, "iPhone 11 case" is back as the sixth-highest search term, according to Leigh.)
As brand manufacturers, search trends can be an easy way to gauge overall sentiment for your target consumers and their level of interest in purchasing "non-essential" items again, particularly as that sentiment seemingly goes through significant changes over a few weeks.
What consumers value in the product and brands they buy has drastically shifted as well. According to the Accenture COVID-19 consumer research study, consumers now place a premium on value-based and ethical shopping since the pandemic.
Here are some examples of this new focus, according to the Accenture study:
For brands, this data is another indicator that consumers look for something more than just the quality of the product or service when making purchases. Brands that clearly convey their own story and values — in addition to standard product content — stand to win a greater share of the market.
There are notable differences in how different consumer base segments feel about the state of COVID-19 and how it continues to impact their consumer and financial habits.
According to the Accenture study, consumers breakout roughly into four categories:
Understanding which buckets your customers fall into will help you determine how to best target the right products to the right segments, better bundle products together, and shape your go-to-market messaging.
By digging one or two levels deeper into the rise in ecommerce, brand manufacturers stand to gain a world of insight into how their consumers feel about the state of the world. They also can learn how interested they are in potentially buying their products.
Easily retrievable data, such as Amazon search trends, can ensure that brands get reacquainted with their consumers as they adapt to the “new normal.”
Watch the full session, “Consumer Behavior on Amazon: COVID-19’s Impact on Today and Tomorrow,” to gain expert-based insights on changing consumer behaviors on Amazon and an overview of how to adapt for the future.
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