Member data is updated monthly in the DataHub, providing the Alliant team insight into the purchase behaviors of consumers during the pandemic. Monitoring this consumer purchase data across channels and verticals, the team has identified trends in purchase frequencies, order size, new customer acquisition, and more. Here are a few of our highlights as well as some predictions for 2021.

DataHub Trends By Channel

New Customer Count from Direct Mail was up 19% YOY in the first quarantine (March-May), however was mailers pulled back, the trend reverses June through October resulting in a 13% decline in new customers from direct mail for Jan-October of 2020.

Despite the lower count of new customers from Direct Mail – all Direct Mail shoppers were spending more in 2020, a 24% increase in average order amount per customer, up from an average of $134 per customer in 2019 to an average of $166 in 2020.  Overall, the total direct mail order amount for Jan-Oct 2020 was up 7% YOY. 

Comparatively, Email, Internet and TV saw a steady lift in new customers in 2020 compared to 2019, with customer count up 143% in new customers attributed to email, 41% from internet, and 84% from TV.

The average order amounts for email, internet and TV were also up 24% collectively.

On a whole, consumers were shopping across channels and they were spending more than in 2019.

DataHub Trends By Vertical

Subscription Model DTC Brands performed well during the pandemic with new customers count up 70% across verticals for Jan-October. This jump which began in the early quarantine – up 73% in March through June – has held steady for the balance of the year.

Within this category, Food & Beverage DTC companies have been an obvious source of growth experiencing 91% growth YOY in new customers March-June, and then steading out an overall 75% increase in new customers across January-October.

Overall spend across consumers for subscription DTC Brands was up 68% January-October with the average order amount per customer up 20%

Multichannel retailers saw smaller gains, with a 10% increase in new customers YOY.  Spending did not increase dramatically here, but rather average order amount per customer was flat to 2019 and total overall spend up 1%.

Publishers were not so fortunate, seeing a 20% decline in new customer acquisition in 2020 compared to 2019. They also experienced a 20% decline in total order amount, however the average order amount per customer was up 7%.  This confirms a strategy Alliant observed in this category: focusing pandemic marketing efforts on existing or expired customers.  A decrease in new customers, but an increase in spending from existing ones, helps to balance out the year for publishers.

2021 Predictions

Prediction #1: Marketers will adopt more flexible advertising strategies across channels to keep up with consumers’ quickly shifting behaviors

With two vaccines set for distribution in the U.S. before the end of the year, we may be poised for another quick shift in consumer behavior. So for 2021, marketers will need to stay nimble; and while many continue to invest in direct mail, they must stay flexible with more creative online programs.

If the DataHub trends illustrate anything, it is that all channels are fair game for growth.  Wise marketers will observe trend channels in their own consumer data and understand where expansion opportunities are.  

Prediction #2: Creative development efficiencies will accelerate

This year, marketers were forced to accelerate campaign timelines to keep up with changing consumer behaviors. Top global brands accustomed to evolving their strategies and adapting ad creatives in-real time such as McDonald’s, IKEA, Ford, and others successfully responded to the emerging pandemic with uplifting messages. For example, Guinness’s St. Patrick’s Day message went viral earlier in March with comforting reminders of community resilience and assurance. 

Unfortunately, not all brands have the budget or production horsepower to conceive and adapt creative as quickly to different mediums. In 2021, marketers will be forced to re-think the creative development process and how to make it more efficient for stakeholders and across channels. Beyond responding to consumer behavior, agile creative will also help marketers make the most of audience targeting, by serving the same campaigns and offers across channels.

Prediction #3: The Universal ID space will see leaders emerge, but Amazon DSP is a dark horse to watch

As the industry inches closer to Google’s loose 2022 deadline to deprecate cookies, expect to see a continued thinning out of third-party data providers and traditional data marketplaces — balanced by the organic rise of new data marketplaces that aren’t beholden to cookies.

In 2021, the industry will be forced to navigate a whole slew of questions surrounding identity. The Trade Desk has charged ahead with its Unified ID 2.0 initiative—recently inking high-profile, collaborative deals with LiveRamp, Criteo, and Nielsen.

One outlier to keep an eye on is Amazon DSP, which will continue to grow and establish staying power for a post-cookie world with audience targeting built around logged-in users rather than cookies.

Explore Your Quarantine Data

SVP of Data Acquisition and Activation recently noted, “The quarantine buying behavior supports how important it is to connect directly with consumers during challenging times, and how companies are in a unique position to build relationships with new and existing customers.”

Isolating new customers who purchased for the first time during quarantine and comparing them to your existing customer base will help illuminate differences, but also identify ways to better engage with these new customers. Since they became customers in unique circumstances, they will most likely require a unique approach for retention.

Interested in a deep dive on your brands pandemic trends? We have provided interesting learnings for Members, many of which are helping to evolve audience strategies and move their businesses forward in 2021. Reach out to your AE for an analysis of your customer data.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kaitlin Dunn, Senior Director Marketing & Customer Experience

Kaitlin leads the Marketing and Creative teams at Alliant, supporting sales and product in communicating what we do and how we do it.  Kaitlin’s career includes managing acquisition for Martha Stewart Living magazine and Director of Marketing, Merchandising.  After working in some of the country’s best restaurants and honing her hospitality skills, Kaitlin joined the Alliant team in March of 2019. She graduated from Franklin and Marshall with a double major in Art History and Business and has an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America.