How US Consumer Behaviors Have Developed Throughout Lockdown

Riikka Söderlund May 18 2020 3 PM | 3 min read

Over the past three months, we have been closely monitoring how the relationships between consumers and social advertising have changed throughout the pandemic. And when it comes to social advertising, the US has acted as a bellwether market for the rest of the world.

We want to share our insights on this market before the release of our global consumer report. If you wish to gain a solid overview of social advertising’s trajectory in the US over the course of lockdown, we’ve got you covered.

US Social Advertising Is Entering Crisis Phase 3

When it comes to social advertising, we’ve seen US consumers move through three separate phases. Back in March was the time of shock panic buying, and uncertainty, April was the time of consolidation, connection, and adjustment. May is looking to be the time when people and brands start returning to something approaching normal service.

The percentage of consumers making purchases through social ads has followed this pattern, with a sharp increase between March and April, slightly falling off in May. However, even with this dip, social purchases remain slightly above Black Friday levels.

Consumers also noted a sharp uptick in social ads for new brands, once again peaking in April and slightly tailing off in May. Social media has increased its importance as a tool for consumers to source knowledge, connection, products, and services throughout lockdown, and brands have adjusted accordingly by working to find and serve the new online audience.

Sentiment for Addressing the Situation Is Still High, but Dipping

March and April were the time for brands to let their customers know they were working to tackle the challenge, today is the time to show your brand has adjusted its offering. While still relevant, US consumers are now starting to favor creative that offers relevant products that meet their needs now over ads that address the situation with appropriate messaging or promote philanthropy efforts.

Guidance on social distancing under a slowly-relaxing lockdown is still crucial, however. Consumers have indicated their desire to revisit brick and mortar brand locations, and they want to know how to stay safe when doing so. Provide health advice and information about new products and services, while also adjusting your messaging and guidance as we go back to normal.

Sentiment for ad creative sharing philanthropy efforts has lowered in May after remaining stable for the previous two months. After eight weeks of lockdown, US consumers may well value how brands can help them directly higher than other charitable efforts.

Fashion Passes Groceries for Lead Online Purchase

Nearly half of all consumers polled in March were open to making online grocery orders. This figure dropped to 37% in April, raising a couple of percentage points in May. In the meantime, the number of consumers prepared to purchase clothing through social advertising has steadily risen, with May seeing the first time fashion passing groceries to take the number one slot.

Contrary to initial thoughts, fashion has remained steady in the past couple of months, and increasing social ad spend after an initial pause. On the other hand, consumers still want to look good and spoil themselves, even during the lockdown. The changing weather, growing children, and other factors mean people want to buy clothes, and social ads are an excellent vehicle for boosting consumer engagement.


The US has proven to be a good indicator of some of the broader trends we’ve observed around the world in social media. Still, many markets around the world operate under different conditions, with different consumer behaviors and preferences driving what works. We’ll break down these differences in our global report next week.

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