How COVID-19 Has Impacted Online Shopping & Social Media

Social media usage and online spending continues to skyrocket during the pandemic. The trend is even dominating the beauty category which traditionally does not perform at this pace in terms of online sales.

To help brands and retailers establish a blueprint for the new reality, Rebel Gail Communications partnered with 360 Market Reach to put some data behind the surge.

Questions & Answers with Rebel Gail Cofounder, Jessica Goldberg

CEW: What made you decide to pursue the study on COVID-19 and online spending?
Jessica Goldberg: We knew brand sales were being affected. Not only were online sales skyrocketing for some but also brick and mortar sales were down – especially for the prestige market. As brands plan for 2021, we wanted to provide relevant real-time information they could use to adjust their marketing plans. Working with our partner, 360 Market Reach, we were confident we could provide important information.

CEW: What are some of the most fascinating findings?
JG: We were all prepared for a surge in online shopping. But I don’t think we knew just how fast online sales would continue to increase, from week to week. We did two studies two weeks apart. The second was the tipping point when online became the majority. That shows just how fast the impact of COVID-19 is having for online shopping. With the Pandemic still affecting so much, there doesn’t seem to be signs of slowing – and most consumers believe this is now normal shopping behavior. More people are at home and spending more time online, especially those who aren’t ready to go into stores.

One of the surprising insights was how Facebook and YouTube transcend all generations. A lot of brands focus on Instagram and/or TikTok – the shiny new penny. But you can see in the first study that more people are actually using and buying from Facebook. Eighty one percent of all people surveyed use YouTube, 78 percent Facebook, 50 percent Instagram and 16 percent TikTok.

Drilling deeper into age groups, YouTube is a platform that transcends the generation gap. About 93 percent of 18- to 39-year olds use YouTube, the most of any social media platform, according to the first study. Eighty-four percent of 40- to 55 year olds are also on YouTube. Instagram is more age specific. While 83 percent of 18- to 39-year olds are on Instagram only 39 percent to 40- to 55-year olds use Instagram. If you have a limited budget, you really need to look at where your target is spending the most time and that may not be Instagram.

CEW: How should beauty marketers use this information? How can they adapt post-COVID?
JG: The pandemic is going to have long-term effects on the industry. Brands need to beef up their digital footprint – website, social platforms and shopping experiences. Beauty brands especially need to look at their commerce experiences. Where typically, consumers went in store for demos and to try on beauty products, that model now needs to adjust for changing behaviors. The typical brick and mortar blueprint just won’t work anymore. Similarly, relying on typical public relations programs won’t move the needle for sales. Brands can see where their targets are spending time online and purchasing. Use that information to reach them with new creative programming tapping into your brand insights.

Rebel Gail: Intuitive, Innovation, Influential

ABOUT REBEL GAIL: Celebrating its fifth anniversary, Rebel Gail is as forward thinking today as it was when Jessica Goldberg and Nancy Caravetta founded the company with the goal of bringing fresh perspectives to the communications industry.

Well ahead of the current movement, the founders leveraged their respective backgrounds to help companies tap into the emerging focus on the intersection of health/wellness and beauty. Jessica, a former beauty editor and marketer, and Nancy, with roots in the pharma world, bring a unique eye to beauty, health and consumer marketing with a deep grounding in science and regulatory expertise. Rebel Gail was one of the first companies to bring beauty and wellness together at inception. They were also one of nine agencies named one of the most Powerful Beauty Agencies in 2018 from the Observer.

Also unique is Rebel Gail’s ability to bring the best-of-the-best to their clients’ businesses. “We have leading experts work on whatever is needed to reach a brand’s consumer,” said Jessica. “We’ve expanded our capabilities to be a full-service communications agency. Whether it’s social media, digital, brand planning or media buying, we can do it… our model is unique,” said Jessica.


Find additional results from the study, please click here.

For more information contact:

Rebel Gail



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