Socializing While “Social Distancing”: How Your Brand Can Thoughtfully Connect with Shoppers During COVID-19

Photo-of-womanIn just a few short weeks, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has impacted shoppers as millions of people are being asked to stay at home by health officials and their employers, directly impacting their daily routines and purchase behaviors. Shoppers are being asked to practice “Social Distancing,”—leading to work-from-home policies, online schooling for children and college students, and, for some industries, unemployment.

But Social Distancing isn’t stopping shoppers from being social…

It’s no surprise that more time at home has made a direct impact on social media consumption. More people than ever are tuning in to their social feeds to track real-time news and updates, virtually communicate with friends and family, pass the time while they can’t go out, and look for inspiration and comfort in their “new normal.”

Between March 11 and 17, Quotient’s internal paid media team saw a 30%+ spike in impression inventory across all of its campaigns, meaning more users were tuning into Social, driving more opportunity than ever for brands to reach new and engaged audiences across platforms.

More shoppers are at home avoiding social activities and group settings, leading to increased time spent on Social, resulting in an uptick of impression inventory across platforms during the past several weeks.

What it means for CPG Brands and Retailers

During this time, people are turning to digital and actively seeking out ways to connect. Brands and retailers that understand this and look for ways to help shoppers during this time will stand the best chance of winning during—and most importantly, after—this pandemic is over.

Here’s how your brand can tap in to Social to help shoppers:

  1. Provide shoppers with valuable information they’re already searching for
    While consumers are panic buying, they aren’t panic searching—instead, they are looking for valuable information, like “how long should I wash my hands?”. This means Social can—and should—be viewed as a platform for your brand to deliver valuable ideas and insights to shoppers during a time when they need it most. So where to begin? Tap into the topics that are most top-of-mind for consumers right now.
Some examples of highly relevant ad creative, providing shoppers with value and ideas during this time—ranging from how to entertain and educate kids at home, to keeping the home clean, to simple skillet recipe incorporating pantry staple items.

Quotient’s Ahalogy Muse platform saw spikes in popularity around topics like “Homeschooling” (40% increase), “Pantry Staples” (115% increase), and “Immune System” (158% increase) during the past 30 days.  Insert your brand into the conversation by providing category-relevant helpful content, or tweaking messaging for campaigns already running. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Pantry staple recipes for the family (what to do with all that extra pasta, beans, etc.) featuring your Food & Beverage brand
  • Tips for hand washing (when, how long, etc.) starring your Hand Soap brand
  •  Tips to keep high-traffic areas of the home sanitized during a quarantine starring your Household Cleaning brand

The bottom-line? Use this time as a way to educate shoppers, while tying in your brand in a thoughtful way. Rather than shutting down all media efforts due to inventory outages and fear of being insensitive, Social can actually help put your brand at the forefront of the conversation in a wholly authentic way. 

2. Find ways to help shoppers connect on Social during a time of “social distancing”

Despite mandated time spent at home, people are still finding ways to connect. Increased awareness of anxiety & depression is one of many reasons people today are hyper-aware of the need to connect with others during this time, especially those living alone. Through usage of tools that make real-time virtual communication possible, like Facebook and Instagram Story apps and Zoom, we are seeing a sudden rise of virtual happy hours, online recipe shares and live-stream cooking classes, virtual neighborhood meet-ups, community watch parties, and more.

Your brand can get in on the fun while providing valuable ideas and inspiration for shoppers with the help of Quotient’s Ahalogy Social-Influencer solution. Here are some ideas:

  • Influencers can host live stream “pantry staple recipe” how-to videos featuring your Food brand
  • Beverage and Adult Beverage brands can own the “virtual happy hour” trend by inspiring shoppers with influencer-created cocktail recipe ideas and tips for throwing a happy hour online
  • Household brands can have influencers host a weekly live stream “Sanitization Series” featuring their products and tips for keeping the home clean during this time

You can tap into Quotient’s Ahalogy influencer network to get started. Whether it’s repurposing old content or driving new ideas with the help of Social, our team can help your brand activate on these new consumer behaviors. 

3. Drive awareness of digital grocery and online pick-up and delivery solutions  

The pandemic has, in many cities, led to panic buying of essential items—from toilet paper to canned goods—causing supply outages across grocery stores and retailers. This, coupled with efforts to stay at home and avoid contact with others, has quickly made online grocery shopping, including pick-up and delivery services, the preferred choice for diligent shoppers during this time.

Quotient has seen nearly 15x more online spending across key categories during this time, and it’s unlikely that this will slow any time soon. In fact, we’re predicting that for many shoppers who never used digital grocery services before will continue this behavior once this pandemic is over.

In this example, a simple shift in ad creative and messaging drives awareness of pick-up and delivery options at Walmart. Our team can re-optimize previously existing content to align with the current purchase behavior of your shopper.

There’s never been a more crucial time than now to drive awareness of digital shopping solutions. Social can help drive awareness of these options and help shoppers at a time when basic shopping routines have been disrupted. Your brand can help educate shoppers by shifting messaging and ad creative across Social to drive pick-up and delivery options at retailers.

We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone—from the brands and retailers trying to navigate this current climate to shoppers looking for answers. Planning ahead and evolving campaign plans to align with today’s behavior is critical now more than ever. The most important thing to remember is that we are all figuring this out together: Quotient will continue to be a trusted partner, delivering insights, education, and strategic advice for our clients and partners that face new challenges during this time.

Quotient’s Social-Influencer solution can help your brand provide value to shoppers during this difficult time. For further insights, reach out to your Quotient representative or contact Drew Hall, Quotient’s Sr. Social-Influencer Commercial Lead at

*Sources: 1 Quotient Internal Data (March 13 – March 26, 2020); 2 Quotient Internal Data (Ahalogy Muse, February 26 – March 26), 3 Quotient Internal Reporting (Q1 2020)

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