Nozzle Insights

The latest news and industry insights for all things Amazon advertising, both for agencies and sellers. Keep in the loop for Amazon search and display stories, as Nozzle helps brands leverage success in the e-commerce world.

Amazon search behavior before and after lockdown ‘easing’

    Over the weeks, we have published stats about how the Coronavirus has impacted online buying patterns. Working closely with Amazon brands as data analysts, we have an early view of Amazon buying trends. To help, we are continuing our series looking at the top search terms.  

    Ecommerce is more important than ever, and the surge in Amazon sales is not surprising. As always, brands looking to make the most of customer demand will need to be very aware of the volatility in search terms and the emerging buying behavior that underpins it. 

    Now that lockdowns are easing, it’s worth looking at how this is impacting online buying behavior. On May 10, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that lockdown measures which began on March 23 will be loosened. Even though it’s early days, the UK provides a good case for how things might change between pre- and post-lockdown because lockdown policy has been nationally uniform.  

    Trend #1: Consistency with slight seasonal growth

    Post_Pre_Lockdown_Tables

    The Top 10 search terms before and after lockdown are still dominated by personal protection, personal fitness and personal care.

    • Personal protection is still the number one concern (“face mask” search terms occupy 4 of the top 10 places — more of this later)
    • “Hair clippers” now occupy two places in the top 10 (watch for this to plummet once hairdressers and barbers open).
    • “Resistance bands” are holding strong, but have started to drop slightly. It’s not a bad bet to assume this will continue to decrease as outdoor exercise becomes more normal.  

    We are beginning to see a drift in the use of search terms to reflect the particular stages of the response to the virus. For example, basic hygiene needs appear to have been met. The search for toilet paper has decreased from the Number 3 (comedy opportunity missed there) ranked search on March 23, when lockdown was announced, to 1000th ranked by May 10. The search for cat litter went down from 63rd to 939th. And people stopped contemplating making their own hand sanitizer — isopropyl alcohol went from 111th to 963rd.

    The search terms storming up the rankings include sun loungers, hanging basket brackets and patio heaters. The lesson here is that seasonal outdoor equipment is on the rise.

    Possible ways to use this information

    • Forecast needs to match next stages of lockdown release:
      • Back to school
      • Back to work
      • Social bubbles
    • Review product portfolio to target the key categories for this stage:
      • Health & Personal Care
      • Sports & Fitness
      • Beauty
      • Garden & Outdoors

    Try using our Customer Analytics tool to access forecasts and make decisions informed by your customer data.

    Trend #2: Volatility is reducing

    When we looked at the Top 10 search terms before and after lockdown, there was one major difference noticeable — the ranking figure post lockdown had settled closer to the average ranking over time. It appears that there is a pattern emerging regarding the most popular search terms.

    In the 49 days prior to lockdown hair clippers, for example, although the 7th placed search term — had an average rank of 13. Since lockdown ended, the average is much closer to the actual rank — granted this is for a short time period of 6 days.

    10_Average_During_Lockdown

    10_Average_Post_Lockdown

    Possible ways to use this information

    • Anticipate that keyword bids will become more stable.
    • Based on stock levels and inventory, start to promote the products that you would have expected customers to buy pre-COVID, but with obvious caveats — large groups and team sports, for example.

    Trend #3: No-one can define a face mask

    Face masks, in some form, are present throughout the Top 10. But people don’t seem to be clear about the best search strategy to find them. Likely, this has something to do with demand outstripping supply. But it’s still something worth noting. There is also the make-or-buy element where people are searching for either products or raw materials to make the masks themselves. 

    It’s interesting that associate terms like “elastic” had the biggest jump in search terms from 988th to 110th from pre-lockdown and would expect to still climb. What is also interesting is to consider the Top 5 biggest decreases in search ranking post-lockdown:

    • cloth face mask
    • washable face masks UK only
    • cotton face mask
    • disposable face mask
    • bandana

    Search strategies seem to be some form of trial-and-error, entering a range of possible search terms and then abandoning the ones that don’t give the expected results. This shift could also have to do with more and more people learning about what makes an effective mask.

    Possible ways to use this information

    • If you are selling items in high demand, be aware when choosing keywords that potential customers will use a range of approaches to try and find what they want and those keywords may be priced very differently.
    • If you sell something that can be used to make (or is complementary to a high-demand product), consider extending to a bundled offering.

    Trend #4: Back to the new normal

    In the pre- and post-lockdown analysis, seasonal buying patterns still shine through.  

    • Weather-related (sun loungers, fans, gardening).
    • Holiday related (Easter).

    However, some old perennials are always there.

    • Lego — always a top search has been taken to new heights by kids staying at home.
    • Chocolate — the ultimate comfort food.

    And other old favorites are starting to emerge

    • Headphones have now made it into the Post-lockdown Top 10.
    • Lightning cable is the biggest climber moving from 898th to 253rd.

    So, it’s likely that broad seasonal trends will persist. People will still make holiday time-related purchases and gradually return to buying from their old-favorite categories.

    Possible ways to use this information

    • Be prepared for seasonal activities — although VE Day didn’t seem to make a dent in the Top 10 — there will be other celebrations. The 4th of July may be the next big one.
    • Think about how the re-introduction of some form of professional sport could potentially unleash pent up demand for your products.
    • Inventory permitting, start to look to advertise best sellers in the expectation that nearly normal buying patterns will start to emerge.

    Riding the roller coaster 

    Buying patterns have changed. It’s also likely that as the long-term impacts of COVID-19 come into effect, people will find themselves with less disposable income — we will all need to adapt. It’s good that the historical picture we have of our customers is starting to come back into focus. But it will not return to what it was before. Getting an up-to-the-minute view of real customer activity is really important – and will be more so over the coming months.

    Analytics tools can help you spot emerging patterns and craft new customer lifetime value trajectories. However, Amazon Brand Analytics is the first stop for all Sellers and Vendors looking to better understand their customers and competitors.

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