Amperity measured and tracked behaviour across multiple channels and categories in North America. They found that over the 100 companies tracked, retail demand went down by 90%! The loss in retail demand could be driven by store closures, but revenue for online stores is also down by 74%. One could speculate that the decrease is influenced by budget cuts at home or by companies switching off deliveries temporarily.
Not all industries are performing alike online. Food and beverage sales declined by 20.38% once panic buying subsided, while health and beauty sales have maintained an increase of 20.38%. This could indicate that many households are stockpiling or buying larger amounts of necessities in order to go to the store less. In South Africa, food giant Woolworths marked an increase of 27.6% in food sales and a decline of 27.8% in fashion, beauty, and home products by the end of March. Our country’s complete lockdown of all non-essential stores plays a big role in these statistics. Numbers are likely to have dropped severely for non-essential items by the end of April 2020.
Facebook users in South Africa went from 21,110,000 in February to 21,260,000 in March, an increase of 0.3% of the population month-to-month. In March 2019 only 27.1% of South Africans used Facebook and a decrease of 11.3% of usership was observed month-to-month*. This indicates a huge increase of Facebook use in March 2020 synonymous with global insights into social media usage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 45% of global consumers are spending more time on social media, according to the Global Web Index. An increase in the production of video content of 10% has also been noted. Not all reports offer the same statistics, however. Social media marketing platforms that measure things like engagement, likes, reach, and cost per click draw a clearer picture of behaviour on social platforms in March 2020.
According to a report by Social Bakers, Instagram engagement has increase by 5% in South Africa compared to March 2019 but has gone down by 13.8% in the USA and 10.85% in the UK. Facebook engagements went down in South African and in many countries in the world according to the same report. Global tweets about the pandemic have increased by 400%.
Social Bakers further observed that overall fans spent more time on Facebook at a rate that has been growing each week to 16.1%. Peak times are 8pm at night. European fans spent 11.9% more time on Facebook. Why do we observe an increase in time spent on social media but a decrease in engagement? It seems more social media users are streaming videos, creating videos, or spending their time in the messenger section. Facebook Messenger App use went up by an average of 50%.
What has increased exponentially is content and engagement concerning the coronavirus pandemic. Consumers care about what brands are saying and doing regarding COVID-19. Social Baker marked an increase in “love” responses to COVID-19 related posts by brands. According to Econsultancy, 47% of global consumers are expecting brands and companies to support hospitals during the pandemic.
With companies across South Africa closing during lockdown, revenue is expected to drop, particularly in the retail sector. Sales revenue has traditionally influenced marketing spend. Companies are reportedly cutting back on marketing expenditure to make up for a decrease in revenue, a pattern we have observed at Pitch too.
On Social Bakers, paid social media posts have declined, while there has been a slight increase in organic posts. Ad spend has decreased in every region except East Asia, where it actually increased by 26.5%. The decrease in ad spend comes with a decrease in cost per click of 30.8% that companies can take advantage of.
During a time when more South Africans are on social media, companies can spend less per click and reach a wider audience. This unique opportunity is waiting for companies with enough foresight to make the best of the volatile global market.
Data from eMarketers points to Pay Per Click as the best use of ad spend, with email marketing coming in second. For the first time, social has overtaken email as the most resilient non-organic marketing channel. Emails are being opened 40% more, but website visits are down by 10-20%. Even though many people now have more time to read marketing emails, the increased open rate is not resulting in a higher conversion rate. At Pitch, we will gladly handle your Pay Per Click, Email Marketing and Web Development needs in these uncertain times.
Global streaming during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased sharply, with a 26% increase in the USA. Observations include increases in viewership during daylight hours (8am-5m) by 39% and early morning hours by 26%. A curious 2% drop in prime-time viewership has also been noted in the same Conviva report. These statistics point to home-based users with more time to watch streaming and online TV during the day.
As campaigns are paused and budgets cut, marketers may find themselves in a pinch. Now is the best time to take a fresh look at your strategies and business model. While digital advertising may be growing and taking knocks in certain areas, traditional roadside marketing is grinding to a halt in South Africa by comparison.
Search advertising is predicted to drop because it is so easy to pause, and print is also suffering losses. What we can learn from the March 2020 statistics around media, advertising, and retail is that the way consumers engage with media is changing. Marketers and companies need to adapt to the changes, consider new platforms, new messages, and new strategies to survive. You can also learn more about what South Africans expect from brands in the COVID-19 crisis.
Interested in more Digital Marketing Insights? Read more on our Insights page today. All statistics and information discussed in this article is relevant at the time of publishing and may be subject to change without notice.Sources: socialbaker; napoleoncat; visualcapitalist;