Covid-19 “Customer Bump” – What do you do about it?

Many companies selling online to consumers experienced a Covid-19 “customer bump” – i.e. a hike in sales during the pandemic. For most of these companies, these peak sales will have dropped back to a “new normal”.

The question is: how should marketers respond in a post-Covid scenario?

First, below are some examples of customer figures based on UniFida’s clients:

Both clients experienced a massive upswing in new customers recruited in 2020, followed by a reduction in 2021. These indexed customer recruitment figures are calculated by taking 2019 as the base.

However, neither client had an upswing in the % of existing customers reordering:

customer metrics

So, for both clients a slightly smaller proportion of existing customers reordered during the Covid period compared to 2019.

The implication therefore is that the Covid bump came from newly recruited customers rather than existing ones. However, it has to be said that both the level of new and existing customers ordering, are driven by many factors other than Covid, including marketing expenditure.

So, what to do about the Covid era recruits?

First, it’s important to put in place a month-by-month monitoring system for this cohort to track exactly how strongly they are reordering, and whether they are ordering the same merchandise mix as the non-Covid recruits.

If they are reordering less strongly, they need somehow to be re-engaged. And if they are ordering differently, this gives a clue as to what to offer to this group.

Second, consider asking for a demographic profile to compare pre-Covid with in-Covid recruits. We did this for one of our clients and the shift between the 2019 cohort’s demographics and the 2020 was quite substantial:

So, the 2020 new customers are substantially younger than those recruited in 2019, but come from the same income bracket.

It’s important to take a look at how the Covid recruits found you and ordered from you. Their pre-order customer journey may have been different to the pre-Covids – they may have been more likely to find you from social media, or responded to Google Adwords. Whichever route they took will give you a strong clue as to how best to reach them, and others like them, in future.

Armed with information about the Covid bump’s demographics, merchandise choices and channel preferences – and assuming that they are different to the pre-Covid recruits – it will be worth treating them as a separate segment for some time going forward.

Impact on behaviour

Covid had a massive impact on people’s behaviour and, depending on the types of merchandise you are selling, you may wish to try to reincarnate the marketing conditions that drove new customers to you during that period.

This COVID bump will certainly have changed the customer base and marketing metrics. What worked in the past will not necessarily apply to these new cohorts. However, gaining better insights into this group, and testing tailored communications across channels, can turn core segments of this blip from one-off lockdown buys into high-value and loyal customers.

For more information on how we can help with customer insights, email [email protected] or call + 44 203 9606472.

UniFida logo

UniFida is the trading name of Marketing Planning Services Ltd, a London based technology and data science company set up in 2014. Our overall aim is to help organisations build more customer value at less marketing cost.

Our technology focus has been to develop UniFida. Data science business comes both from existing users of UniFida, and from clients looking to us to solve their more complex data related marketing questions.

Marketing is changing at an explosive speed. Our ambition is to help our clients stay empowered and ahead in this challenging environment.