Twitter Insights: Retail Therapy during COVID-19 Lockdowns

By Martyn U'ren
Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Against the backdrop of social distancing and lockdowns, we’ve been crunching the numbers and analysing the data to see how shopping - for the brand, and the consumer - evolved in 2020, and where it might take us in the coming months.

From January to August 2020, we saw more than 1 billion Tweets from 37 million unique authors, around shopping globally.

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How have Shoppers Changed?

A recent survey with more than 50,000 people on Twitter across 27 markets showed that purchasing priorities shifted quite dramatically in 2020. Big ticket items - such as holidays and cars - were put on hold, while categories such as fashion & accessories, takeaway delivery and beauty products have seen a big up-tick in purchase intent. And as we move into 2021, people are looking to either maintain or increase their spending in household cleaning, health supplements and entertainment subscriptions.   

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However, perhaps more than the change in categories is the fact that consumers are expecting more from brands - in terms of both offering new or different products, as well as messaging. Even in regions with comparatively fewer restrictions, consumers around the world anticipate they’ll be spending more time on at-home activities - so what can brands offer that allows them to make the most of the situation? 

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What This Means for Brands

  • An Opportunity for Local Players

This could be a big moment for smaller, local challenger brands who have proximity on their side. Our study found that 74% of people on Twitter are planning to purchase more from local brands in the future- this rises to 83% amongst people on Twitter in Southeast Asia.

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  • The Rise of Shoppertainment

Live Streaming too has become a key facet of the virtual retail arena, particularly in Southeast Asia and China, helping buyers connect with products and see them in (digital) action. On Twitter, there has been a 75% YOY increase in live video minutes watched as of Sept 2020.  For example, Shopee Live saw 120 million views in Indonesia in April this year - marking a new record for the brand.

Some brands have gone one step further by bringing in celebrities to add fervour and fanfare to their virtual events. @tokopedia, for example, indulged BTS fans across Indonesia by engaging the boy band in exclusive concert and interviews as part of their #TokopediaWIB show.

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  • Accelerating A.I. Adoption

Consumers settling into higher expectations of convenience, speed and choice will be a lasting effect of COVID. With shoppers staying within the confines of their homes, A.I. has been brought in to boost their experience - for example, in the form of chatbot services, analysing customer comments, product recommendations and providing personalised services to online shoppers. For example, FoodPanda in Singapore has begun trialling drone deliveries amid the spike in demand for food delivery.

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Social Commerce - Be Part of the Conversation

Of course, while these innovations are exciting, it means very little if your brand remains unknown - you need to be part of the conversation that’s happening online in order to build and maintain your brand presence (particularly when physical options are out), as well as build rapport with your audiences. Twitter is increasing in value as a place for people to review and discuss products - with 81% of people looking for opinions on products, services and brands on Twitter, and 71% of users sharing their own recommendations. In addition, over 41% of daily Twitter users are actively looking for updates from their favourite brands. 

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@martynuren

Martyn U'ren

‎@martynuren‎

Head of Research, APAC

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