Brands in education (+518% change YoY), Fitness (+138%) and arts, photos and music (+102%) are gaining the most through affiliates in the time of coronavirus but there is also opportunity for those in other categories, new affiliate data analysis has revealed.
This is according to the Covid-19 Network and Consumer Trends Report by CJ Affiliate, which has been tracking and analysing changing consumer trends and behaviours during the coronavirus pandemic since 1st March 2020. The report is being updated on a weekly basis and captures data from CJ Affiliate’s own network reaching over 1 million consumers in over 240 countries, comparing the results with the same time period in 2019.
Consumers hesitant to commit to purchases but confidence growing
Prior to the introduction of social distancing, online clicks and actions were on a similar level or even below those of the same time last year, but the introduction of lockdowns around the world has seen a resurgence in clicks in mid-March (+32%).
However, with much uncertainty over the length and impact of lockdown, initially there was only an increase in clicks as consumers were happy to look but not buy. From the start of April this eventually led to a rise in actions (+15%), and as a result, purchases. This trend is also continuing and increasing throughout the month, rising to (36%) by the third week of April – demonstrating a growing opportunity for both new customer sales and re-purchases.
“With many of us now at home, and with more time on our hands, it’s understandable that more people are going to be browsing and searching online,” explains Jules Bazley, Regional Vice President EMEA, CJ Affiliate. “The challenge is converting the browsing to purchases. To succeed, brands need to be reaching out to both existing and prospective customers with the right messages, at the right time and through the right channels to push them through to that purchase. As the data shows, there is opportunity here, but brands need to act sensitively.”
Sector winners shifting
Education is the clear category winner for brands during coronavirus, experiencing a 518% YoY increase in actions and 199% YoY rise in clicks. With the need for home schooling and learning set to be in place for a while longer, this trend is also likely to continue. This is followed by fitness (+138% actions and +101% clicks YoY) and arts, photos and music (+102% actions and +70% clicks YoY), which consumers are leaning on during lockdown to stay healthy and entertained.
Other brand categories and sectors are also emerging with an increasing uptake in consumer demand. Games and toys (+81%), computer and electronics (+65%) and accessories (+65%) have all seen a reasonable increase in actions YoY, but computer and electronics (+44%) and accessories (+10%) haven’t seen as strong an increase in clicks YoY. Brands under the home and garden category have seen an increase of 51% in actions YoY but, with these brands, consumers are happier to just browse rather than to continue through to a purchase, with the home and garden category seeing a bigger increase in clicks (+62% YoY) than actions.
Beauty also trumps business for consumers, with beauty seeing a 67% increase in actions and purchases and 217% in clicks YoY, compared to a 62% rise in actions and 204% in clicks YoY for those brands, such as productivity tools and accounting and other business software, falling under the business category.
Predictably, travel has seen an 85% decrease in actions YoY, hitting a low at the beginning of April but there are early signs of renewing confidence (-84% towards the end of April).
Overall, whilst many retailers are currently struggling during the current pandemic, the data shows that certain brand categories within the retail and home and business service sectors could make gains in affiliate activities from the coronavirus crisis, with these sectors seeing a steady increase in actions from the beginning of March to the end of April (4% to 57% and 34% to 57% respectively).
“It’s to be expected as we all adapt and get used to this ‘new normal’ that consumer behaviour will change,” concludes Bazley. “Many people have settled into working from home adapted to the demands and limitations of the current situation, and many of us are now looking towards new means to keep ourselves entertained and occupied. This will continue to evolve. The global pandemic has hit many brands and retailers hard – those making the most of digital services and ad opportunities could still secure returns, but brands need to keep a close eye on what to keep the same and where strategies may need to shift to best respond to consumers’ needs.”