We never thought we would have had to write an article on our blog about an epidemic, but we are pushed to do so because the psychosis that has affected the continental population in recent days has obviously also had an effect on online browsing and consumption habits.
Let’s understand the impact which the Coronavirus epidemic in Europe is causing companies’ digital marketing strategies. and let’s try to understand what mechanism was triggered in the second half of February.
Many of our customers are asking us what is happening and why “there is a drastic drop in transactions from all channels” but unfortunately the explanation is not easy and not even to be found on Google Analytics or in the various CRM. It is a fact that, in the last few days, many (not basic) services and goods have been registered with a drop in the general interest, as a consequence of sales.
Let’s solve some concepts coming straight from consumer psychology, that always represents a good excuse to review the Maslow Pyramid:
Given the current situation, the data available and those that are pushed obsessively by the media, the current situation can be seen in this way:
As we’re witnessing in Italy, where the situation has become critical, the real emergency situation has obviously changed people’s habits. The normal enjoyment of social and economic life has contracted to such an extent that it can be said that the population is momentarily focused on what are considered “primary needs”.
Italians are therefore in a real emergency situation, the normal enjoyment of social and economic life has contracted to such an extent that it can be said that the population is momentarily focused on what are considered “primary needs”:
Trend search for the keyword search “Online pharmacy”. Source: Google Trends
The trend of searches for the search key “Online spending“. Source: Google Trends
Considering the panic happening inside and outside Italian supermarkets – which media, to be fair, pushed in a rather alarmist way – it’s easy to suppose that a normal “monthly shopping cart” has been messed up. And that let us remember how in recent years monthly food shopping has weighed just under 20% of total consumption (Source: Istat).
Percentage of Italians’ monthly spending on food.
Chart: Raffaele Ricciardi
Source: Repubblica & ISTAT
Although we are not aware of the values of the average expenditure during the first days of the epidemic, we can realize that the monthly figure for the month of February will be higher and will inevitably hit the other sectors.
In support of this forecast, comes from the 3 major food delivery services (and not) that have publicly admitted that they are struggling to meet the demands and in some cases are suspending the service on Milan; we are talking about Esselunga, Pam and Amazon Prime.
As Netcomm president Roberto Liscia points out about the growth in demand for eCommerce in conjunction with the diffusion of the COVID-19:
“In an emergency situation like the one Italy is facing in the last few hours, particularly in the Northeast area due to the spread of the coronavirus, it is clear that the demand for individual consumption, in every sector, is increasing significantly. People, in fact, tend to avoid closed and crowded places and tend to apply the so-called ‘social distancing’, avoiding going to department stores, supermarkets, public transport, theatres, museums, cinemas. This self-isolation, voluntary or forced, undoubtedly leads people, especially in the most sensitive areas, to look for the digital answer to the needs of supply and entertainment, through online purchases of primary goods (but not only) and the use, for example, of video on demand. Many operators in the e-commerce chain are experiencing a disproportionate growth in demand, even from less frequent consumers, usually reluctant to buy and pay online. The entire logistics and delivery system, in collaboration with institutions in the areas most affected by the virus, will have to deal with this emergency and guarantee a punctual and efficient service to all people”.
Basically what we are dealing with is an indirect “competitor” that has come into play in a disruptive way, contracting first of all the attention of users that have been diverted to something else, just look at the surge had on Youtube videos related to the Coronavirus or web searches for protective masks. In essence, therefore, the attention, then the time, dedicated by users have shifted to the virus and its consequences more than secondary needs, self-esteem, realization, etc.. In short, people spend their free time looking for information and basic necessities rather than language courses, cosmetics and clothing.
The trend of searches on Youtube for the “Coronavirus” search term
Trend research comparison: clothing versus pharmaceutical
Finding data is not easy, it all happened a few days ago and is still in full swing, probably has not yet reached the media “peak” as politics is beginning to come into play with a heavy foot, so we do not exclude a polemical revival from all sides.
Trying to be cautious, referring exclusively to consumer trends and Digital (as we absolutely don’t want to get into political or medical issues) here is what could happen in the short, medium and long term:
Although in some cases the temptation to exploit the fear for the Coronavirus in campaigns and promotions is strong, we will never recommend it to our customers because of our professional ethics, we don’t want to contribute even for a moment to the bloodbath that is taking place against our country.
Still today, unfortunately, when we hear talking about Digital Marketing we sometimes acknowledge a discussion about a faraway world, where time and space do not exist. While instead, as the complete opposite, we talk to people who live moments, have feelings, have both relationships and feelings, and which are the same people reached by newspapers, television and offline advertising.
We invest time to speak to people’s hearts and brains, we provide dreams and solutions, we gnaw this time from the pathology, this really serious for the economy, the search for tools for a magical and immediate solution.
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