Impact of COVID-19 on Consumer Purchases: Analysis of Helium 10 Data

A new report explores online shopping during a pandemic, showing how the Amazon marketplace reflects pop culture trends over the past two years.

  • Following the easing of travel restrictions in 2021, baggage clicks increased by 573% after a deep lull in 2020 during global lockdowns
  • As personal care increased in 2021, shaving kits have become increasingly popular in December 2021seeing 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 release “The Queen’s Gambit”, increased by 420%

Consumer buying and spending habits have fundamentally shifted 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 e-commerce sellers, today released “Lysol, Baggage, and the Great Lockdown: What Amazon PPC Research Reveals About Online Shopping During the pandemic,” leveraging its powerful data capabilities to examine the volume of clicks from PPC ads in Amazon search results.

“Viral trends, cultural moments and COVID-19 milestones influenced consumer behavior on Amazon during the most disruptive two years in recent history, and provided us with data that paints a holistic picture of the how and when online spending habits have changed,” said Bradley Sutton, chief e-commerce strategist at Helium 10. “Our mission at Helium 10 is to empower sellers with essential insights to guide their e-commerce strategies. The information and analysis supporting this report helps sellers better understand the Amazon consumer and turns insights into actionable tactics that drive revenue.

Below are highlights from the full report, examining how changes in television trends in travel and grooming and pop culture have translated into behavioral changes on Amazon.

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Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has disrupted travel, grooming and education as quarantine restrictions have been put in place around the world and schools have been forced to embrace remote learning. Click volume on Amazon for luggage, backpacks and shaving kits saw an expected decline in 2020, but the data also points to distinct periods when quarantine patterns began to change.

  • Clicks for luggage-related products increased by 573% July 2021 compared to July 2020accurately reflecting the rebound in air travel seen when global restrictions eased
  • Year over year, click volume for shaving kits increased 28% as the world began to open up again and the public parted ways with their quarantine beards.
  • As schools reopened and businesses rolled out hybrid models in fall 2021, click volume for backpacks increased 32% from August 2020even if the general trend is still downward compared to 2019

Remote and hybrid approaches to education across the country have prevented 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 after peaking in April 2019.

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

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

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

Although “Tiger King” debuted on Netflix in March 2020consumer demand did not gain popularity on Amazon until October 2020. The clicks then exploded into October 2021more than a year after the release of the series.

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

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

Netflix’s ability to influence buying decisions sets a fascinating precedent for branded products and sellers’ ability to capitalize on the timing of viral trends. Although searches for “Squid Game”-related products topped Amazon’s search results just two weeks after the show’s US release, the original brand’s hit shows demand that products personalized products on Amazon are made after the fact, which means that sellers cannot launch the products immediately.

Download the full report here for additional insight into home life and the rise of home workouts.

Helium 10’s suite of tools for Amazon and sellers processes more than two billion data points every day, providing sellers with accurate information to help them make business decisions. With its robust data capabilities, Helium 10 examines e-commerce trends on Amazon using the volume of clicks from PPC ads displayed in search results. By calculating the percentage increases in total monthly clicks for each of the highlighted terms, the business can understand, at a relatively macro level, month-by-month online interest in a given product or trend.

The click volume analysis ensures that the search intent of the user was aligned with the ad content. The graphs in the report represent the percentage increase in total monthly clicks on PPC ads displayed in search results containing the highlighted term. For example, the term “sweatpants” includes searches for “blue sweatpants”, “cotton sweatpants”, as well as any other search term containing the term “sweatpants”.

The data is normalized by the volume of clicks available in the first month the search term appeared. Differences in relative size over subsequent months indicate shifts in demand since the search term first appeared.

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