goPuff Releases New Data that Analyzes Trends in Consumer Behavior Amidst COVID-19

From early preparations and stocking up to finding our "new normal", an analysis of consumer habits amid COVID-19 and insight into potential short and long-term changes in consumer behavior.

goPuff delivers everyday essentials, from cleaning supplies, over-the-counter meds & home needs to food and drinks in just minutes. With its own centrally located facilities in every local market it serves, the company delivers thousands of products quickly for a flat $1.95 delivery charge. Because goPuff sells products directly to the consumer, we’re able to predict order patterns and identify changing consumer habits in real time. With this information, we provide our CPG partners with deep consumer insights into how their products and brands are used by the changing consumer, what actions to take to maintain relevance in an increasingly crowded marketplace, and what levers to pull to create repeat purchasing habits—with an audience that has been shifting away from brand loyalty. 

Most recently, goPuff’s Integrated Data & Consumer Research practice has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak. After taking time to collect information and observe trends, we’ve compiled a week-by-week perspective in a new white paper. 

Consumer behavior has changed rapidly over the course of just a few weeks, from preparation and stocking up to realizing a "new normal" of purchasing habits - with specific product category standouts along the way. Armed with this information, we’re also able to make informed decisions about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on consumer trends. 

Our hope is that brands and individuals alike can apply this analysis to a thoughtful and safe path forward into the future. The full white paper can be found here; highlights from the report are below.

How Will COVID-19 Affect Consumer Behavior in the Short- and Long-Term?

 

Trends over the past several weeks give us insight into what the future might hold. Here’s how goPuff predicts COVID-19 will affect consumer behavior going forward: 

  • 
More cooks in the kitchen

While there’s no reason to believe people will reallocate their former commuting time to cooking elaborate three-course meals, individuals and families alike have turned to home cooking as a necessity. Expect a resurgence in cooking at home as the novelty turns into a habit, even if it’s just swapping eating out for staying in a bit more each week. 

  • Out with the fresh, in with the frozen: welcome fast-casual cooking

Shoppers will always prefer fresh meat and produce over canned and frozen alternatives, as long as they are available. Following COVID-19 however, we predict many shoppers will have lessened their aversion to frozen options. Pandemic-induced behavioral changes may open the door to products and brands that previously could not establish a foothold in the fresh-food space. Instead of leaving the store empty-handed when a certain item is unavailable, we expect shoppers to be more willing to seek frozen alternatives in the post-pandemic time.

  • 
Renewed connections and strengthened ties

As seen in behavioral changes over the course of the past month, Americans have adapted their behavior to fit the new reality. Both despite and because of isolation, friends, families & coworkers are turning to new methods of engaging with each other. While virtual happy hours and social distancing get-togethers will fade as the pandemic subsides, expect communities to emerge more connected than before. As such, brands may continue to message on these newfound connections while celebrating a revived sense of freedom. Personal, family and community events will have newfound meaning and importance. Brands should take time to identify how they fit into these moments and how they can help consumers feel more connected to one another.

  • Awareness and appreciation of delivery services’ convenience lead to an increase in long-term use


Consumers have shifted quickly and decisively to delivery over the past several weeks and are using goPuff more frequently: goPuff saw a nearly 90% increase in customers ordering at least once per week (vs. March 2019), and a 55% increase in order value. Given this shift, and greater awareness of essential delivery services, we anticipate consumers will turn to delivery more in the weeks and months that follow than they have in years past.

goPuff Consumer Habits Changed Weekly Once COVID-19 Began to Spread Across the U.S.

 

Week of March 2: Preparations Begin & Cleaning Product Delivery Cleans Up

As cases began to trickle into the U.S., consumers prepared by purchasing items like Purell, cleaning wipes, over-the-counter medicines & single-use gloves. 

  • Purell sales subsequently spiked, increasing over 400% vs. the previous week. 
  • Orders for OTC medicines and cleaning products doubled and tripled, respectively, compared to the first week of March 2019.
 
Week of March 9 Consumers Stock Up: Toilet Paper Delivery is on a Roll

Fearing the worst, shoppers sought peace of mind amid looming uncertainty by buying large quantities of toilet paper, frozen foods, canned goods & baby food. Whereas “candy” was the top search term on goPuff in the previous week, this week’s top term is “water,” symbolizing the broader COVID-19 induced paradigm shift.

  • Charmin orders increased 211% overnight on Thursday, March 12. 
  • Units per order for bathroom products jumped 44% vs. the previous week while cleaning products rose 21% per order. 
  • Purell buyers stocked up, leading to a 97% increase in units per order vs. the 2019 average. 
  • Digital thermometer orders in Seattle—an early COVID-19 epicenter—jumped 500% vs. the previous week.

 

Week of March 16: School Supplies & Frozen Food Delivery are the New Normal

Americans settled into life in quarantine and began ordering more energy drinks, school supplies & popcorn to fit their new lifestyle needs. goPuff customers began ordering earlier in the day, especially when shopping for alcohol or home essentials. 

  • The Cooking category saw a 112% increase over the previous week, while frozen and canned items also saw double-digit lifts. 
  • With much of the nation working and attending school from home, goPuff observed a 127% increase in school and office supplies orders this week alone. 
  • While orders in the Bathroom, Cleaning & Water classes plateaued as people moved away from the stocking mindset, orders for sexual health products and 
playing cards took off.

 

Week of March 23: Stay-at-Home Future: OTC Pain Relief Delivery is Pain-Free

The new normal became entrenched as consumers double down on the items that facilitate life from home.

  • Coffee orders grew 42% since the previous week. Energy drinks similarly outpaced the average growth seen across goPuff categories.
  • Canned, bathroom & baby products saw declines in units per order vs. the week of March 16. Data across dozens of product categories suggests that consumers moved away from a stockpiling/disaster preparedness mindset as another week in quarantine passed. 
  • Over the past few weeks, a viral text message stated that ibuprofen exacerbates COVID-19 symptoms, and shoppers should instead use acetaminophen. goPuff data demonstrated acetaminophen brands growing rapidly over the past three weeks while ibuprofen orders stayed flat.
  • As information debunking this myth emerged, shoppers purchased brands from both categories more evenly.

 

Week of March 30: The Maturing Shopper Gets Delivery Savvy

As Americans build routines around pandemic constraints, shopping behavior follows suit. As the quarantine wears on, consumers continue to adjust and normalize their shopping habits. 

  • While shoppers visited goPuff more frequently, they no longer scoured the app for specific items like hand sanitizer and water. They returned to their usual ways of shopping on the platform.
  • 
As each week passes, the goPuff customer base grows to include slightly older consumers and those who shop the platform earlier in the day.
  • Older individuals ordered from all goPuff departments more frequently. Though online grocery and convenience shopping primarily resonates with younger, tech-savvy consumers, the pandemic has encouraged older shoppers to see the value these services can add to their lives.

 

Week of April 6: The End of the Beginning & At-Home Grooming

After a distinct escalation and plateau of shopper behavior, consumers gain comfort with life at home and the road ahead. As it becomes clear that stay-at-home orders will remain in place for the foreseeable future, Americans look toward the next phase of life from home.

  • Consumers leaned into DIY fixes as salons and barbershops remained inaccessible: With many shoppers having gone more than a month since visiting their favorite stylist, goPuff’s Beauty category grew 113% since the first week of March. 
  • goPuff also saw a double-digit volume increase in orders in the past week for Gillette and Venus shaving products as shoppers become keenly aware of their interrupted personal care cadence. 
  • Shoppers continued to adopt digital retailers as the pandemic disrupted traditional channel mixes.

 

Click here to view the complete white paper.

Contact goPuff’s Integrated Data & Consumer Research practice at consumerinsights@gopuff.com to learn more about how you can leverage deep behavioral insight & take your brand to the next level.

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