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Valassis Real-time Insights Inform Marketing Strategies Amid COVID-19

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Proprietary Solution Draws Rich Consumer Behavior Data on Media Consumption and Interests

Valassis, the leader in marketing technology and consumer engagement, released impactful insights from its proprietary Valassis Consumer Graph, aimed at arming marketers with findings that can help them be there for consumers in relevant and timely ways during the COVID-19 global health crisis. As a result of increased work from home and social distancing, many consumers are engaging with more content online and shifting their routines. However, interests have remained largely consistent during the COVID-19 pandemic as many are seeking levels of normalcy amid change.

Illuminating consumer patterns and behaviors during this time is extremely important for brands and marketers as they try to anticipate the needs of target audiences and pivot accordingly. Understanding shifts in buying behaviors and media consumption offers brands an entry point to connect with consumers and navigate alongside them in today’s environment.

“As marketers and brands appeal to their customers based on their interests, they should also realize that how consumers act on their interests, both now and when the recovery begins, may be different,” said Carrie Parker, vice president, marketing, Valassis. “It is more important than ever to make a connection, which involves getting to know consumer needs in this ‘new normal’ as well as understanding shifting patterns in different regions to engage as meaningfully as possible with both marketing and messaging.”

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By analyzing billions of data points flowing through the Consumer Graph around media consumption, location visitation and interest topic consumption, Valassis identified the following key insights:

Consuming More Information Onlin

  • Mobile device usage has increased during typical working hours, perhaps indicating that people might be on two devices at one time. Consumers are also using mobile devices later at night than in the past, indicating they are staying up later on weekdays than they were before the pandemic.
  • Increased internet usage has been largely linked to browsing compared to app usage, which is more tightly linked to information consumption than entertainment.
  • People are consuming more serious, research-based topics related to finances, the economy, healthcare and more, while reducing consumption of lighter topics like celebrity entertainment news.

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Connecting Around Real-time Needs

  • As states started to issue stay-at-home orders and community-spread alarms were sounding, one would theorize that traffic to all consumer services and non-essential locations would have decreased. However, consumers are not always predictable. Interestingly, Valassis data showed that visitation nationally to places like massage studios and bowling alleys actually increased as the weeks went on in March.
  • Some points of interest saw visitation increase based on localized and personal needs, such as visits to organizations/associations, moving services and stores that sell signs/displays/banners – likely due to businesses needing to inform customers of changes to hours, inventory, pick-up, delivery and more.
  • As stress increased and health needs heightened, overall physical visitation to counseling, health and social services increased.
Seeking Normalcy in Abnormal Times
  • Valassis analyzed how topic consumption may have changed due to COVID-19.Surprisingly,only about 2% of the more than 1,300 topics have shown considerable changes.
  • As would be expected, interest in COVID-19-specific topics increased significantly, such as “healthcare,” “economic issues” and “investment news,” but topics of interest that consumers had before the pandemic continue to be their interests in today’s environment.

This insight is further validated based on category trend data and activity across RetailMeNot properties from March 15 through 22. The categories that showed increased demand, such as books/news, electronics, food/entertainment and toys seemed to align with more stay-at-home activities, while the others related to clothing and accessories are practical interest topics that may have naturally seen a boost given the seasonal change.

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