By Drew Kramer, vice president of analytics & marketplace strategy at Whitebox
COVID-19 has changed the way consumers are shopping, with a largely remote workforce who have turned to online shopping for their necessary, and unnecessary items, to avoid in-store shopping. It is clear consumers aren’t returning to their old, pre-pandemic habits anytime soon. However, the products shoppers are searching for have shifted.
It’s no surprise that last year we saw a spike in pandemic-related products, such as hand sanitizer and face masks, with the majority of top 10 product searches being related to these protective items and panic buying peaking in July of 2020.
Top Search Terms on Amazon in 2020
- Hand sanitizer
- N95 mask
- Face mask
- Masks for germ protection
- iPhone 11 case
- n95 respirator mask
- Face mask medical
- Airpod case
With these most-shopped items now back in stock and consumers feeling less panicked about hoarding the necessities, a sizable search volume dropped off for pandemic-related items in December of 2020. Now heading into the new year, Whitebox is seeing adjustments to what consumers are interested in, and trends have shifted to what appears to be more items to entertain consumers … and make them a bit more comfortable while doing it.
What the Data Says
As noted, the biggest shift in consumer behavior has been away from pandemic-related products, which at one time dominated almost all top 10 search spots. Facemasks is the last search term standing, seeing its largest drop in searches since the beginning of the pandemic: from its average number two spot all the way down to the ninth most searched item thus far in 2021.
Likewise, searches for homeschool supplies, which peaked back in September of 2020 with “back-to-school” season, are now continuing to decrease. This trend can likely be attributed to many counties across the country heading back to some form of in-person learning in the new year. Searches for schooling products have actually dropped to their lowest since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, 45 times less than they were in September.
Despite many schools returning in some fashion, kids — and adults alike — are still at home more and searching for new items to entertain their time and minds. Along these lines, Whitebox has seen a major resurgence in searches for the once-popular fidget toys, which we predict will continue into 2021. This 2017 fad is now trending again, peaking at its highest search volume since 2019 at the beginning of 2021.
Not surprisingly, at-home office spaces aren’t the only thing consumers seem to be spending time equipping. Searches for elusive gaming consoles, such as PS5 and Nintendo Switch, have increased as they become more and more difficult to find. Gaming consoles are currently dominating three of the top ten search spots on Amazon. And similarly, searches for gaming chairs have risen into the top three searches on Amazon in 2021 thus far, likely due to America’s new work from home lifestyle coupled with the increased popularity in gaming.
It’s clear the panic of hoarding pandemic supplies has subsided, even if it took nine months to do so. And while the world is far from normal, consumers are getting used to this new normal, spending their days at home and finding more ways to have fun doing so. This offers a huge opportunity for brands to position themselves within this narrative.