COVID-19 and Consumer Vertical Preferences

For many people in lockdown, it feels like time is drifting by more slowly than normal. The reality is, the world is continuing to change at a rapid pace. The industries that we operate in are no different, especially as people’s needs and priorities change week-to-week based on their circumstances and the restrictions of their local governments.

As countries enter different phases of their lockdown periods, we look at how consumer priorities are changing and the verticals increasing their share of sale.

  • Across APAC the apparel vertical is regaining its share of sales, returning to near-February numbers.
  • In Brazil, Health and Wellness brands are accounting for a higher percentage of vertical sales.
  • The home improvement category has experienced and increasing share of verticals sales in Canada.
  • In both France and Germany, apparel is gaining share of vertical sales.
  • Sporting Goods increased in share of vertical sales in the UK.
  • In the US Department Stores experienced and increase in share of vertical sales.

Although it’s true that many regions experienced a drop-in activity in February or early-March, it’s increasing across our global network from mid-March into April.

Clicks across all regions, have increased, with Brazil experiencing significant growth in March and April over the second-half of February.

Across the UK, Europe, APAC and Brazil orders have increased in April, while they remain steady in the US. Canada is the only network to experience a slight downturn in orders throughout the beginning of April.

Though there’s no doubt that the pandemic has affected consumer shopping, it’s encouraging to see that both clicks and orders are increasing across the board, perhaps an optimistic outlook as some countries are starting to loosen restrictions.

The data depicts that, while behaviours are still changing, there is opportunity for both advertisers and publishers to engage their audiences. We asked the experts at Rakuten Advertising what strategic advice they would give to clients to help ensure they’re maintaining performance and setting themselves up for success post-COVID-19.

 For Advertisers:
Leverage more available ad inventory
After studying marketing and sales data for “a host” of fashion retailers, analytics firm Measured reports brands that kept their digital marketing campaigns live the second half of March saw an average online sales increase of 81 percent compared to the same period a month earlier. With apparel brands across the world seeing an increasing share of sales and strong indicators that consumers are spending time shopping online, it’s a good time to think about how you can strategically invest your ad dollars to reach engaged consumers. One opportunity to consider is re-assessing the potential of your display strategies. Today, we’re seeing a lower demand for ad inventory, leading to lower inventory costs. This means that display ad dollars can go further than ever before, and you can reach more consumers and achieve more revenue with a smaller investment.

Incentivise Promotion of Available Inventory
With inventory availability proving a challenge for many brands, Dynamic Commissioning is an effective tool to prioritise the products you have in stock and ready to ship. Through higher commissions, you can incentivize publishers to promote those products more aggressively. Further, if you are not able to promote deals or discounts, which are important to consumers right now, offering commissions at a higher price point empower cashback and loyalty publishers to offer more back to the consumer.

For Publishers:
Cross-border promotion
With the established trust of their audiences, publishers are uniquely positioned to introduce consumers to new things – new products, new brands, even new lifestyles. While many brands are facing challenges with inventory availability, publishers are left looking for ways to protect the integrity of their content and make sure they’re linking to products that are available and ready to buy. Now is a good time to explore the opportunity to introduce your audiences to new cross-border brands who offer similar goods that are in-stock. Your network development team is on hand with recommendations for new partnerships that will make sure you have compelling and accessible content, and also help you grow your affiliate program.

Use data to help your audience
Now, more than ever, is a time to let the data guide you. Consumer shopping patterns are changing quickly, and for publishers to remain successful they need to understand what their audiences are in the market for. This week we see apparel gain a greater share of voice across APAC, France and Germany, while in Brazil Health and Wellness is increasing and Home Improvement in Canada. Use this information in conjunction with your own audience data to create optimisation strategies or campaign opportunities for your advertisers.

Rakuten Advertising will continue to keep you updated with strategies and insights from our network. For more strategic insight, specific to your company, please reach out to your Rakuten Advertising representative. For more insights and data related to COVID-19, visit

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