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How Consumer Behaviours have Changed Since Lockdown

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Updated: May 29, 2022

By Philippe Guinaudeau, CEO

Needless to say, the lockdown has sent reverberations through society which have percolated into our consumer behaviors and greatly influenced the way we interact with brands and businesses worldwide. The primary driving force behind this is not being able to leave the home in the same way as before, confining us to a smaller set of activities whilst simultaneously diversifying what we can access within this environment.

The main vehicle of this is digitization and the power of technologies that have really come into their own as methods of both entertainment and communication.

Products and services that we can interact with easily within our homes or locally are gaining popularity. Arguments surrounding the screentime kids get have fallen by the wayside as parents have come to rely on digital devices and platforms for both entertainment and learning. At the opposite, parents now pray for the use of these devices!

For children specifically, lives have changed considerably alongside their normal routines:

No more School – No more school means fewer or no physical relationships with friends in an interactive social environment. This means greater reliance on eLearning methods and parent teaching. This also means more free time for the children.

After School Activities – The types of entertainment that are enabled by school have also depleted meaning children are thoroughly reliant on what activities they can enjoy at home or outside with the supervision of parents. This directly impacted the numerous interactions children shared, as well as generated even more free time.

No Sports Entertainment – TV entertainment has also taken a hit with the closure of most sports meaning yet more free time. Here again, more spare time and a big issue: what to do?

All of these factors collide to push consumer behaviors deeper into the digital realms and this is what some of our data illuminates also. Whilst it might seem intuitive to think that overall net consumption and purchases have declined as people take time off work or are unemployed, etc, online retail and entertainment brand spending has actually increased with some evidence showing 24% increases in online shopping amongst UK high-street retailers and 54% in parts of the US. Many consumers are also inclined to believe they’ll be increasingly reliant on online retail in the future too.

According to McKinsey & Company, adults have spent more on entertainment brands during lockdown whilst health products have increased by 75% according to AC Nielsen. Clearly, there will be some big winners and losers amongst brands worldwide and adaptation is key to navigating this changing landscape.

So what are the 5 key insights from BrandTrend’s quantitative research and analysis of kid’s brands during lockdown?

Kids had More Free Time by Themselves

No school, sports or extracurricular activities have meant kids have more time by themselves away from both family and friends. As parents may also be working from home later than when kids finish any eLearning commitments, kids likely have more time largely unsupervised in the home where they’re left to their own devices. In line with the vehicle of digitization, video games and apps, TV and streaming are the main beneficiaries here.

In fact, 88% of all brands discovered in our report are defined as ‘individual brands’ that cover the following categories:

● TV Shows, Series & Channels

● Films & Movies & Cartoons

● Streaming / YouTube / Web Series

● Videogames & Apps

● Franchise

● Comics

● Books

In France and the USA, the top 3 categories here were Videogames & Apps (24% in France vs 15% in the USA), TV Shows and Channels (18% in the USA vs 16% in France) and Streaming (YouTube and Web Series) – (17% in the USA vs 15% in France). These are very closely followed by Films, Movies, and Cartoons.

As we can see, digitally provided entertainment dominates the rankings for its accessibility and the fact it serves the purpose of entertaining kids for longer unsupervised periods at home.

If we break this down by gender, there are more similarities than differences but in the USA and India at least, boys tend to sway towards Videogames and Apps (18% vs 16%). The slack for girls is taken up primarily by TV Shows, Series & Channels (16% vs 20%).

If we look at changes in these brands with age then we can see a very sharp increase in the popularity of TV Shows, Series & Channels as kids get older, with the sharpest rise occurring beyond the age of 15. This is mirrored by Streaming / YouTube / Web Series also. Videogaming and apps are by far the strongest brand category between the ages of 10 – 14yrs.

Kids Shared More Time with their Parents

Due to closer proximity between parents and kids in the home for longer-term periods and also the temporal or emotive qualities of needing mutual emotional reassurance and bonding during the lockdown, kids spent more time with their parents. A greater proportion of this time was spent learning and bonding rather than actually playing together.

As we might expect, parents have adopted a greater teaching role at home. Of all the categories we measured for parent-child interactions (COVID-19 Impact Study, Kidz Global, May 2020, USA), 65% of parents said they helped their kids more with their learning. Next, parents said they tended to spend 61% more time watching movies, TV shows, and cartoons with their children. Bonding activities also came up trumps here with 61% of parents saying they talked to their kids more and discussed special topics with them. Family mealtimes also mirrored this.

53% of parents reported that their kids had been spending more time playing with videogames. Towards the other end of the scale, parents at times reported playing less with their kids.

Kids Discovered many Entertainment Brands

So what entertainment brands occupied the most spontaneous mentions?

Netflix is the dominant force here receiving 6% of all spontaneous brand mentions within the Entertainment category. This is 2% greater than next-best Hulu which primarily serves Japan and America. This ties with Disney that also sits towards the top of the table at 4%. YouTube and Amazon Prime Video lie on 3% and 2% respectively. Overall, these measurements are primarily indicative of Netflix’s dominance as streaming service number 1.

There is another thing happening here, though. Kids have reconnected to older brands and characters from the pre-2000s. This has occurred primarily across the categories of:

● TV Shows, Series, Channels

● Videogames and Apps

● Film-Moves, Cartoons

● Comics

From spontaneous mentions from individuals across all age groups, the majority of ‘rediscovered’ content within these categories dates back to before the year 2000. Some key mentions from TV Shows, Series, Channels include Star Wars, Tom and Jerry, Spongebob Squarepants, Mickey Mouse, Toy Story. From Videogames and Apps; Mario Bros, Sonic and GTA, and comics; Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, The Flash, Iron Man, and Dragon Ball Z.

Relationships with Brands Have Changed

Some brand relationships have changed which gives a telling insight into the nature of quick-burning trends and how marketers, advertisers, and licensers have to be quick to react.

Here, we use the example of Fortnite which soared into popularity across 2018 and 2019. Relative to other brands such as Marvel, DC, Harry Potter, and Spider-Man, Fortnite surged from 10% to 25% as a spontaneously mentioned favorite brand between 2018 and 2019. However, now, we see that it has declined more-or-less to its starting point of 10%.

In fact, the brand is intrinsically more appreciated by the boys (it gained 5 points over the year, to reach 64% of fans!). However, it has declined as a top favorite brand in the same population! This is the direct consequence of an over-consumption and a shorter affinity cycle.

This has an effect on sales intentions, where stability is important for merchandise appeal. The purpose of this is to draw attention to how kids can over-consume brand content in very short periods of time leading to saturation and subsequent mid-term popularity decline.

Long-Term Behavioral Changes are Considered

From our data, we can see how behavioral changes in parent-child relationships are developing with an increased desire for parents to continue bonding with their children. This is much stronger amongst younger parents (below 40yrs). Younger parents have placed a significant focus on doing more with their kids, particularly when it comes to mealtimes, discussions, and assistance with homework and learning.

This ties in with digitization where parents are the ‘gatekeepers’ of many online purchases and transactions. This increased involvement may translate into greater success for brands that fulfill parental criteria, e.g. that they help kids learn, teach them lessons, or support them emotionally via warm and reassuring messages.

Summary of Key Points

Digitization is the key driving factor behind much of this data and digital platforms are the vehicle of nearly all brands discovered in our research. From video games and apps to streaming services, digital platforms have become further embedded in our lives.

Parents are taking a greater involvement in what their kids are doing, though many are also content with leaving them to their own devices when it comes to actual consumption. Still, parents are the gatekeepers of eCommerce transactions and streaming content so communicating with parents is vital for gaining trust and building rapport.

Another key element here is that kids are placing a greater focus on experiential brands rather than physical merchandise. This is mirrored in adults too, where according to Aviva Group, adults are also tuning into having positive experiences via brands that reflect warmly upon life.

One thing we’ve seen is that overconsumption can dent long-term popularity for brands that tend to overcook themselves in their early days, like Fortnite. The takeaway here is that diversification is important for kids who will otherwise jump-ship to other brands.


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