What Vendors Should Expect From Changes in Consumer Needs During the Crisis
May 05, 2020
In preparation for an extended social distancing period, consumers purchased products like face masks, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper in bulk, resulting in widespread shortages in these categories.
Amazon’s best seller list is the top 100 products ranked based on sales traction and performance history, and is used as a benchmark for a brand or product’s performance. The type of products in the best seller list can also indicate consumer shopping behavior over a given time period. For example, the number of hand sanitizer, paper products, and thermometer ASINs increased sharply between the second half of February and the first half of March. Among the categories analyzed, hand sanitizer sales grew the most. Between March 1 and March 14, they made up 40% of personal care best sellers on the platform. Over a six week period from February 1 to March 15, 20 unique toilet paper, facial tissue, and kitchen roll products spent an average of nine days on the best seller list. 64 ASINs analyzed in the bulk face masks and face masks categories spent even less time on the best seller list, at an average of 3.5 days. This increased turnover is due in part to products going out of stock from increased purchase volume.
But increased demand has also led to inconsistencies in product merchandising and pricing, where misinformation about attributes like count and manufacturing information led to consumer dissatisfaction with the product. This is because first-aid supplies like face masks are typically sold by third-party merchants in Amazon’s Marketplace, who are being overwhelmed by the rapid increase in demand. Third-party merchants are likely to feel COVID-19’s impact on their supply channels more acutely due to the relatively specialized inventory that is now in demand from multiple sources including hospitals, essential businesses, and governments.
Enterprise conglomerates and B2B merchants should identify in-demand categories and leverage the resources at their disposal to fulfill customers’ needs. Being able to adapt to consumers’ changing needs will have the dual benefit of both helping mitigate the strain of widespread product shortages in the short term and building consumer trust in a brand in the medium-to-long term. Amazon’s established status as a digital commerce leader has allowed it to become a key touchpoint to reach consumers directly, which enterprises should look to leverage in light of updated policy recommendations from local governments.