How Coronavirus is changing consumer behaviour online

16 March 2020

Team Training

As uncertainty over coronavirus continues to grow, consumers across the globe are becoming more cautious about the places they go out in public, choosing - or having to - spend more time in the comfort of their own home.

With people spending more time indoors, trends are already indicating that internet usage has spiked significantly, as consumers look to the web and social media as a means to bust boredom, connect with friends and family, and order necessities.

So how is coronavirus impacting online behaviour? We’ve pulled together some of the most recent statistics to give you a picture of what this means for digital.

More time online

The use of the internet has markedly increased over the past two months, with daily time spent on mobile internet in China rising from 6.1 hours in early January to 7.3 hours in the past week (QuestMobile, 2020). This trend is expected to replicate across the globe, as more countries take precautions to manage the ongoing situation.

Shop from home trend

It’s been suggested that if the outbreak worsens that it will shift more purchases online, as people will be reluctant to leave their homes to shop (Search Engine Journal). A recent report highlighted that ecommerce activity, particularly related to health and grocery is booming in the US. There have been surges in Amazon searches for products like hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap. Digital shoppers are also willing to convert on products that they need with longer delivery windows in order to avoiding going to stores, where inventory may be limited anyway (Emarketer).

Limited travel

The chairman of IAC warned that Expedia was expected to earn $30 to $40 million dollars less because of the effects of the coronavirus (Search Engine Journal). With governments implementing travel restrictions to help stop the spread, consumers are staying close to home, spending more time and money in their domestic market.

Connecting via social media

As people self-isolate, social media is increasingly being a reliable means to communicate and connect with the outside world. Trends are showing that people are using these channels to keep in touch with their friends and family, get the latest news, and even order food (The Drum).

Increasing advertising budgets

In a time of uncertainty, it’s understandable that businesses are keeping a close eye on their marketing budgets. However, according to Search Engine Land, not everyone is cutting them. They highlighted one example from the trade show sector, which shows that many businesses are looking at digital advertising as one means to drive leads in the absence of face to face engagement. “[I] just talked with one client who is seeing several tradeshows get canceled, and wants to put more into digital to make up for the lost leads they usually pick up at events,” said Tim Jensen, PPC campaign manager at Clix Marketing.


In summary, it’s clear that we’re living in unprecedented times, with rapid changes and significant impacts on people and businesses right across the globe. However, there is also a strong sense of positivity, with an appetite to keep on going and get through this together.

If you would like to chat to us about how we can help you navigate the world of digital marketing in the context of coronavirus, please do get in touch.

Drop us a line or give us a call on 028 9099 7001.

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