Helium 10 Data Analysis Identifies the Lasting Impact of COVID-19 on Consumer Shopping

New report explores online pandemic shopping, showcasing how the Amazon marketplace mirrors pop-culture trends over the last two years.

  • Following eased travel restrictions in 2021, clicks for luggage saw a 573% increase after a deep 2020 lull during global lockdowns
  • As personal grooming increased in 2021, shaving kits became increasingly popular in December 2021, seeing a 155% increase in clicks
  • Products related to the hit docuseries “Tiger King” saw a 277% increase in clicks a year after its release, while chess-related products, coinciding with the critically-acclaimed “The Queen’s Gambit” release, rose by 420%

Consumer shopping and spending habits fundamentally evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic, and lifestyle shifts have become increasingly evident through changes in online shopping. Helium 10, the leading all-in-one software and analytics solution for ecommerce sellers, releases “Lysol, Luggage, and the Great Lockdown: What Amazon PPC Searches Reveal about Online Shopping during the Pandemic,” leveraging its powerful data capabilities to examine the volume of clicks sourced from PPC ads in Amazon search results.

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“Viral trends, cultural moments, and COVID-19 milestones influenced consumer behavior on Amazon during the two most disruptive years in recent history, and gave us data that paints a holistic view of how and when online spending patterns changed,” said Bradley Sutton, Chief Ecommerce Strategist at Helium 10. “Our mission at Helium 10 is to empower sellers with critical learnings to guide their ecommerce strategies. The insights and supporting analysis in this report help sellers better understand the Amazon consumer, and turn insights into actionable tactics that drive revenue.”

Below are highlights from the full report, examining how shifts in travel and grooming and pop-culture TV trends translated to changes in behavior on Amazon.

Going Nowhere
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic disrupted travel, grooming, and education as quarantine restrictions were put in place across the globe and schools were forced to embrace remote learning. Click volume on Amazon for luggage, backpacks, and shaving kits saw an expected drop-off in 2020, but the data also points to distinct periods where quarantine patterns began to shift.

  • Clicks for luggage related products saw a 573% increase in July 2021 compared to July 2020, accurately reflecting the rebound in airline travel observed when global restrictions eased
  • Year over year click volume for shaving kits increased by 28% as the world began to open up again, and the public parted ways with their quarantine beards
  • As schools reopened and businesses implemented hybrid models during Fall 2021, click volume for backpacks increased by 32% compared to August 2020, though still trending lower overall compared to 2019

Ongoing remote and hybrid approaches to education across the country kept consumers from fully investing in back-to-school items like backpacks. But consumers were ready to hit the road in 2021 as click volume for luggage rebounded even past 2019’s April high.

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Despite 2020’s grooming lull, Helium 10’s data suggests shaving kits continue to increase in popularity as holiday gift items, indicated by a 155% increase in click volume during December 2021 when compared to October of the same year.

The Netflix Effect
Trending TV shows released during the pandemic captured the interest of millions stuck at home, but they also had a powerful influence online over the last two years. The data highlights two Netflix Original series which demonstrate this behavior on Amazon:

  • Clicks for products related to “Tiger King,” an early pandemic streaming sensation, experienced a 277% increase in volume between October 2020 and October 2021
  • “The Queen’s Gambit” revived interest in a game launched 1,500 years ago and, shortly following its release, led to a 420% increase in clicks for chess-related products in November 2020 compared to November 2019

Though “Tiger King” made its Netflix debut in March 2020, consumer demand didn’t gain traction to pick up on Amazon until October 2020. Clicks then skyrocketed in October 2021, more than a year after the series’ release.

The clear spikes in October of both years indicate the popularity of “Tiger King” as a Halloween costume choice, but also evident in the data is the impact of strict lockdowns in 2020, and a renewed interest in social gatherings from consumers ready to embrace “the new normal” during Halloween the next year.

“The Queen’s Gambit” tells a different story. Immediately following the show’s release in October 2020, consumer demand for chess-related products spiked within weeks. While 2021 data shows a year-over-year decrease in volume, there was still increased demand for chess products in 2021 compared to 2019.

Netflix’s ability to influence purchase decisions sets a fascinating precedent for branded products, and sellers’ ability to capitalize on the timing of viral trends. Though searches for “Squid Game”-related products dominated Amazon’s search results just two weeks after the show’s U.S. release, originally-branded hit shows require custom products on Amazon to be manufactured after the fact, meaning sellers can’t immediately launch products.

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