The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is impacting every part of our lives, from the places we can go to the way we spend our time, to the priorities we have and the way we spend our money.
Of course, this has wide-ranging ramifications for marketing, advertising and ecommerce – as well as a number of other sectors like travel, entertainment and FMCG.
To help marketers keep on top of what this means for them, their jobs and their industry, we’re collecting together the most valuable and impactful stats in this roundup, updated on a weekly basis since 20th March.
Read on for statistics on retail sales, adspend, streaming subscriptions, social media use, recruitment figures and much, much more.
Retail, ecommerce & FMCG
Global retail ecommerce will total $3.9 trillion by the end of 2020
Data from GroupM, released in December, predicts global retail ecommerce, including automotive but excluding food and delivery services, will total $3.9 trillion by the end of 2020 – equating to 17% of all retail sales. In China, these online sales will rise to 25% of the entire retail market in the region.
As a rule, analysis found that geographic areas with lower ecommerce penetration, such as Canada and Australia, saw much faster ecommerce growth this year than those where ecommerce was already a big player before the pandemic hit.
The accelerated adoption of retail ecommerce across the world has put some regions ahead of others in terms of expected growth by the end of 2021. China, ever the leader in this area, could see online retail amount to 27.3% of its total retail sales, followed by the UK (19.9%) and the US (16.2%).
Increased normalisation of online shopping, which became more of a habit for many consumers this year, is not the only factor helping the market stand in good stead for the year to come. Brands’ greater focus on omnichannel experiences, including services like click and collect, as well as better demand prediction, will ensure retailers make the most of the recovery from Covid-19. Improvements in product discovery and branding are also expected to be high up on brands’ lists of priorities next year.
By 2024, it is estimated that retail-focused ecommerce sales will amount to $7 trillion annually, or one-quarter of all global retail for that year. If this growth trajectory continues, on average, in low double digits, this could reach to $10 trillion in sales by 2027.
Experts predict doubling of website traffic (year-on-year) for supermarkets and pharmacies in the days leading up to Christmas
In the rush to Christmas between 21st-23rd December, supermarkets and pharmacies could see a doubling in website traffic (year-on-year) as consumers search for last minute products, according to Yext’s compilation of holiday search trends. Website traffic for jewellers is also set to double in the lead up to the holiday, although many will continue to buy such gifts in person if they can, causing an expected 108% increase in ‘get directions’ clicks over these few crucial days. Clicks on restaurant websites will also surge as consumers opt to takeaway their favourite meals rather than dine out.
While many businesses expect to see a reduction in footfall this year after Christmas, particularly with Covid-19 restrictions still in place, analysis predicts that brick-and-mortar retailers in the furniture and telecoms sectors will see a 111% rise in directions clicks on 28th December.
Moving closer to the New Year, sporting and fitness brands and services are predicted to experience a 15% growth in website traffic on December 30th, followed by double the number of phone calls on the 31st as consumers plan their new year resolutions. There will also be a post-Christmas rush for nail salons and hairdressers, which could benefit from an 85% increase in website traffic on the 27th December and more than double usual levels on the 30th.
25% of brands will see ‘statistically significant advances’ to their CX quality in 2021
As customer experience, particularly through online channels, was thrown into the spotlight for most of 2020, renewed focus on this core business aspect will enable vast developments throughout the course of 2021, according to predictions from Forrester.
Twenty-five percent of brands will see ‘statistically significant’ advances to their CX quality next year, despite budget cuts, thanks to increasingly improving customer experience competencies on the back of short-term fixes generated at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, this move could save companies hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars, the data forecasts.
Forrester also expects spending on customer loyalty and retention will increase by 30% over the next year, after acquiring plenty of new online customers during the 2020 ecommerce boom. Brands can expect to see their CMOs taking more control over the full customer lifecycle in order to improve CLV amid the uncertain financial climate ahead. Many CMOs are likely to integrate marketing with CX to create a more joined up experiences that encourage customers to stick around.
Poor customer service could cost UK businesses £1.9 billion this festive season
Research conducted by Signavio this December reveals that poor customer service could cost UK businesses £1.9 billion over the festive season. It predicts that UK brands could expect to receive 189 million phone calls, 193 million emails and 160 million letters this Christmastime as customers ask for help with their purchases.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents claimed they had used customer service tools more this year, thanks to the pandemic, but 32% also say that the service they have received has become worse over this time period. With nearly four in every five UK shoppers willing to change their buying intentions when faced with poor customer service, this could spell trouble for brands this Christmas, which are already under strain from unprecedented online activity.
So far, 50% of consumers say they are deliberately avoiding brands with notoriously bad customer service over the festive season, with the average loss to a company per customer amounting to £58. One in five had already stopped purchasing from a brand during the coronavirus crisis this year for the same reason.
According to the data collected, the worst culprits for poor customer service are utilities, retail and public sector businesses. Meanwhile, the most complained about issues were speaking to multiple agents about the same situation, having to repeat information, slow response times and confusing online processes.
72% of British shoppers think that retailers should offer more promotions in a time of financial uncertainty
Seventy-two percent of British shoppers think that retailers should offer more promotions in a time of financial uncertainty, such as the pandemic, according to a December report from XCCommerce, ‘Promotion at the speed of customer demand’.
The survey of 2000 consumers also revealed that more than half of consumers (56%) in the region believe it is the most important factor when they shop, rising to 70% among those aged between 18 and 24. A further thirty-two percent of respondents said they have been researching offers in 2020 more than they were last year.
With 60% of consumers spending less this year due to Covid related financial troubles, brands have to provide shoppers with smarter and more aggressive discounts to encourage them to part with their cash. It seems that customers are more likely to prefer immediate-term discounts than those that offer long term perks for their loyalty. The most popular form of discount cited by those surveyed was money off specific products (78%), followed by free shipping (55%) and multi-buy discounts (46%). However, access to members only discounts (15%), a subscription service offering money off future buys (10%) and access to exclusive content (9%) were ranked the least popular.
Despite a large appetite for discounted products, brands must be careful not to overdo promotional communications. Forty-four percent of customers say they resist the temptation to buy additional products recommended to them (e.g. ‘customers who bought this also bought’), while another 46% say that over-communication of current offers puts them off from making a purchase.
Grocery supermarkets are seen as the most generous discounters by consumers, and even more so in the eyes of the 55-64 year old age bracket. Meanwhile, just 8% believe fashion retailers offer the best promotions, increasing to 19% for 18-24 year olds.
UK footfall down 29% year-on-year as non-essential shops reopen in England
The Retail Gazette reports ShopperTrak’s findings that UK footfall on the first Saturday after England’s national lockdown was lifted (5th December) was still down 29% year-on-year, even though week-on-week shopper traffic increased 193%.
Despite Christmas edging nearer, and reports showing packed high streets in central London and other key retail locations, it appears consumers are remaining cautious about venturing in store during the busiest shopping period of the year.
Further data, this time from Springboard, indicates that footfall across all retail destinations in the first week after the November lockdown ended was 41.3% down on the same week in 2019, rising to a 51% drop on high streets and a 45.6% drop in shopping centres. However, the number of shoppers visiting dedicated retail parks declined by just 1.3% on last year.
Online grocery sales at 14% share of overall market during second lockdown
Grocery market share statistics from Kantar reveal a record spike in UK grocery sales throughout the month of November.
In the four weeks to 29th November, take home sales increased 13.9% year-on-year as consumers in England were restricted to eating at home and others began shopping for festive food earlier than usual. According to analysis, the three days before lockdown began on 5th November were the particularly busy, with sales rising 17% during that week alone.
Overall, November saw shopping frequency at grocery stores at its highest level since the beginning of the pandemic, contributing to record sales of £10.9 billion over the four-week period. Kantar predicts sales in December will increase even further to £12 billion, £1.5 billion more than December last year, as more consumers buy their provisions for the festive period.
Of course, another lockdown meant renewed interest in online grocery shopping, which saw its share of the overall grocery market grow to a record 13.7% that month, thanks to more than six million customers purchasing produce online.
61% of fashion retailers say they are planning to reduce the number of SKUs in their inventories
The pandemic’s impact on the fashion industry, particularly in store, has lead to significant amount of left over stock and periods of heavy discounting by retailers as they try to shift it, greatly affecting overall revenue. A December report from Business of Fashion and McKinsey observes the ways fashion retailers are making fundamental changes to their strategies going into 2021 to resolve the issues that have been brought to light more plainly than ever before.
When asked what strategies they would employ to avoid future overstock, 61% of fashion retailers said they were planning to reduce the number of SKUs in their inventories. A further 60% hope to improve analytics for consumer insights so that they can better predict demand, while 55% said they would implement a more agile supply chain.
Combined with other methods such as moving to a seasonless assortment and reducing the number of collections they produce, these retailers hope to make their business operations more cost effective and environmentally friendly moving forward.
Crowded stores and long checkout queues among top concerns for UK customers Christmas shopping in store
An Aptos survey of 2000 UK consumers has found the top concern for in store shoppers during the Golden Quarter (November to January) is that stores will be too crowded (74%). This is followed by concerns about long checkout queues (69%) and a lack of social distancing measures (68%). However, nearly half (49%) say that if satisfactory precautions are put in place to prevent these issues, they would be willing to visit brick-and-mortar shops during this period.
Besides safety measures, around three-quarters of respondents cited the availability of click and collect services as one element which would encourage them to return to the high street. A further 52% said they would be enticed by seasonal decorations and displays, while 48% said better in store discounts would convince them to make the switch from online.
Technology that could help alleviate queuing times seemed of particular interest to UK shoppers. When asked, 74% stated that they would be very or fairly likely to use a self-checkout service in store. Meanwhile, 53% would be receptive to using a mobile card reader and 51% ‘scan and go’ technology.
But it’s not just high street shopping consumers are sceptical about this year amid the coronavirus crisis. They also have concerns shopping online this year – more than half are worried about deliveries taking longer than usual due to high demand. Furthermore, an additional 46% are concerned about stock limitations or item availability and more than two in five are apprehensive that deliveries may never arrive.
Third party sellers on Amazon saw a 60% growth year-on-year in Black Friday weekend sales
In a blog post on 1st December, Amazon revealed that sales performance on Black Friday weekend, which includes Cyber Monday, has helped the 2020 holiday season become the ‘biggest yet’ for the company.
Black Friday promotions saw third-party sellers grow their sales by 60% year-on-year, surpassing $4.8 billion worldwide. Amazon also claimed that more than 71,000 small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) selling through the marketplace had made more than $100,000 during the holiday season at the time of publication.
Meanwhile, SMEs based in the US have seen an average of 9,500 products sold via Amazon every minute since October. Record sales levels have enabled independent businesses using the platform to create an estimated 2.2 million new jobs around the globe.
Best-sellers in the US so far since the 15th October (the beginning of the company’s Holiday Dash deals event) have included several Amazon branded items including the Echo Dot and Amazon Smart Plug. Ancestry and DNA services like 23andMe have also been popular with shoppers, as has Barack Obama’s latest book ‘A Promised Land’.
Self-care, toys and pets were among the biggest trending categories in the region as people began searching for gifts earlier than usual. Skincare, pyjamas and LEGO kits also shared the spotlight with consumers preparing for more time indoors in the lead up to Christmas. The company also reported more customers signing up for its Amazon Pharmacy service as a convenient way of receiving their prescriptions.
UK retailers see a 23% increase in online store sales this Black Friday, YoY
Analysis from Nosto has found UK sales in online stores soared 23% this Black Friday. This was accompanied by a 35% rise in online store visits and a 2% increase in conversion rates compared to numbers from the same event in 2019. However, there was a 4% decline in average order value, likely due to heavier discounting than usual to get consumers to part with their cash amid financial uncertainty.
Globally, pet supplies and home and garden came out on top compared to other verticals, seeing a 60% and 52% increase in online sales respectively. The majority of the remaining categories analysed saw growth compared to last year’s Black Friday results, except for fashion and accessories, which experienced a 4% decline despite a 7% uplift in traffic. This category also saw a 5% decrease in conversion rate and a 3% drop in average order value.
Overall, global online consumer behaviour changed quite significantly over the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend. This year, there was a 24% increase in the number of pages viewed and a 20% increase in the time spent on any one page. Meanwhile, bounce rate dropped by 2%, suggesting that shoppers, more than ever, are making more purposeful and considered purchases during the event.
Interestingly, there was also a 30% uplift in the number of product recommendations shown, indicating that retailers have put in place additional measures to ensure a personalised experience for visitors and a greater chance of conversion and/or upselling.
US shopping app downloads slow to a 4% year-on-year growth in Q3 after a Q2 spike
US shopping app downloads slowed to a 4% year-on-year growth in Q3, following a spike in Q2, according to Sensor Tower’s Mobile Retail Trends Analysis, published in Q4.
Across the Apple App Store and Google Play, shopping app downloads in the region surpassed 150 million. The ranking of most downloaded apps remained mostly unchanged throughout Q1-Q3 this year, with Amazon, Wish and Walmart remaining in the top three, in that order, as they did last year. However, three new retail apps entered among the remaining seven spots, mirroring their successes in the US market this year – Shop (by Shopify) rocketed to fourth place overall, while fashion retailer SHEIN ranked number seven and Nike crept in at number 10.
Sensor Tower data also revealed that US app download growth for top brick-and-mortar retailers between Q1-Q3 this year was almost double that of top online-only retail apps (+27% vs. +14%). Downloads for stores that also have a brick-and-mortar presence also dropped off less sharply over the Q3 period compared to those of online-only retailers.
This suggests US consumers found a new way to shop with their favourite high street stores this year under unprecedented circumstances which meant they had to shop from home. Customers who favour flexible shipping policies and contact-free pickup particularly reaped the benefits of apps from these kinds of retailers.
47% of British consumers have had issues with parcel delivery since March lockdown
An October survey of more than 2000 British consumers, commissioned by Citizens Advice, has found that nearly half (47%) of British consumers have had issues with the delivery of parcels since the first lockdown began in March.
With the UK having been in full or partial lockdown for much of this year, 51% say they feel more reliant on having products delivered to their homes. The increased numbers of people now shopping online, whether for necessity or convenience, seems to have thrown retailers’ logistical issues into the spotlight.
Of all respondents, a whopping 96% claimed to have ordered products that require parcel delivery since March. Three in 10 of these have experienced shipping delays, making it the biggest issue cited by consumers. A further 18% said they had lost out financially due to a home delivery gone wrong or missing, with 40% of those losing out by more than £20.
As a result, nearly one in four have lost confidence when ordering goods from online stores – something that could have a larger impact as people begin their Christmas shopping.
Citizens Advice has said views of its webpage providing advice on parcel issues had more than doubled to 208,000 between March and October this year compared to just 94,000 over the same period last year.
US holiday spending boost could be as low as 15% this year
Data from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), published in November, has revealed that the typical US holiday spending boost that is experienced every autumn/winter could be much lower this year than it has been in the past.
Normally, spending is on average 40% higher during the festive season than it is throughout the rest of the year, as US consumers prepare for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other religious holidays that fall in the last quarter. However, thanks to factors like a weaker economy, as well as declining spending trends from earlier 2020 US holidays (Independence Day and Labor Day to name a few), experts predict the boost could end up as low as 15%.
It added that retail performance in Q4 will vary depending on sector, following patterns that emerged earlier in the year. For example, sales of electronics and home goods are expected to thrive even further this winter. Geography will also have an impact on the spending habits of consumers, with some states having implemented tighter measures than others as the holiday season approaches.
As a result, BCG advises that marketers adopt ‘every resource’ they can to help navigate potential demand and plan out promotional tactics, pricing and digital marketing efforts.
Two in five Brits plan to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Despite the national lockdown in England, two out of five (40%) Brits are planning to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, according to a YouGov survey from 25th November. This figure rises to 58% of those aged between 18 and 24 and 51% of 25-49 year olds. One in six are still unsure as to whether or not they will take part.
Across all age groups, 32% expect to shop online only over Cyber Weekend, a number which is likely enhanced by the closure of non-essential retail stores in England at a time which coincides with the event, and 7% hope to make purchases both in store and online. Just 1% said they would be shopping exclusively in brick-and-mortar stores.
18-24 year olds are most likely to shop in a physical retail store, with 11% of those who will be making purchases over Cyber Weekend hoping to do so either entirely or in addition to shopping online. Meanwhile, just 16% of over 65s will be shopping solely online, and even fewer (5%) will make some kind of in store trip across the event, classing them as the category most indifferent to grabbing a bargain this November 27th.
UK October retail sales up 5.8% year-on-year as second lockdown loomed
ONS data found a 5.8% growth in the volume of retail sales in October compared to the same month a year before. Retail sales volume also increased by 1.2% on September, continuing the industry’s trend of steady recovery seen over the last six months.
These figures suggest UK consumers began their festive shopping much earlier than usual, spurred on by heavy discounting by retail stores and perhaps by rumours of an impending second lockdown in November.
Non-store sales volume rose month-on-month for the first time since June, and were 44.9% higher than in February, pre-Covid. Meanwhile, sales in sectors such as household goods, non-food, food stores and department stores all continued to recover above their equivalent February numbers, but at a much lower rate. Clothing, however, notably stayed lower than pre-Covid levels, hampered by tightening local lockdown measures on non-essential stores.
78.9% of clothing and 66.7% of department stores saw a decreased level of footfall during the two weeks from 5th October to 18th October, resulting in the increase seen in online spending. Overall, online sales as a percentage of all retail reached 28.5% in October – an uplift of 4.7% month-on-month.
Asda gears up for a “record online Christmas” as it publishes Q3 results
Asda reported that it is gearing up for a “record online Christmas” as it published its Q3 results for 2020, which included a 72% year-on-year increase in combined net sales for Asda.com and George.com.
Overall, Q3 like-for-like sales (excluding fuel) increased by 2.7% year-on-year, the supermarket chain reported, with growth driven by strong performance in grocery, back to school clothing and online shopping. Asda is already seeing a surge in demand for Christmas products and essentials, including Christmas trees, sales of which are up by 83% year-on-year; festive lights, which are up 57%; and Christmas puddings, which are up 71%. Sales of frozen turkey crowns, which serve three to four people, have also increased 230% year on year, indicating that consumers are planning for smaller gatherings during the festive period.
Asda is responding to the continued demand for online shopping by increasing the capacity of its grocery delivery service to 765,000 weekly slots. It has also expanded its delivery trial with Uber Eats from 50 stores to 100.
Alibaba’s Singles Day sales event breaks records
November 11th saw Alibaba pull in record sales during one of the largest retail events in China – Singles Day. Purchases made in the 11-day campaign period covering the unofficial holiday topped $74 billion, a new high for the company and a 26% increase on 2019’s event.
In its press release, the ecommerce giant said that more than 470 brands using Alibaba made 100 million yuan in gross merchandise value (GMV) as a result of the shopping festival. The platform also claimed it had processed 583,000 purchases per second during the peak of activity across the campaign. Of the quarter of a million brands that participated, 31,000 originated from outside of the Chinese market. 2,600 of these were joining the event for the first time.
Digital tools came into their own during the Singles Day event this year. According to Alibaba’s data, its AI customer chatbot dealt with 2.1 billion questions, and more than 30 livestreaming channels on Taobao Live (Alibaba Group’s livestreaming tool) made over 100 million yuan in GMV.
Rival JD.com made 271 billion yuan (US $40.9 billion) in sales throughout the holiday, while major omnichannel retailer Suning.com exceeded 5 billion yuan (US $756 million) in omnichannel GMV across its ecommerce platform, Tmall shop, and livestreaming outlets 19 minutes after midnight on November 11th, the South China Morning Post reported.
With Black Friday just around the corner, the significant growth in purchase activity during China’s biggest shopping event of the year could indicate what is to come for online retailers this festive season, particularly for those with outstanding digital capability.
Burberry pre-tax profits fall 62% in H1
Interim results published by Burberry have revealed the luxury brand saw its pre-tax profits fall by 62% to £73 million in H1 FY2020 (six months ending 26th September), down from £193 million in H1 2019.
Total sales declined by 31% to 828 million thanks in part to spring lockdowns, which forced many businesses to close their brick-and-mortar stores for several months. However, sales had begun to recover in late summer, with double-digit increases across China, Korea and the US and had begun to return to growth in October. Comparable store sales, the brand said, were just 6% down year-on-year in Q2 (July-Sept) versus 45% down in Q1 (March-June) during the first wave of global and national infection.
Despite disappointing results, Burberry emphasised its high double-digit growth on its digital platforms as many consumers remain wary of visiting in store venues. It also saw growth in leather goods, and ‘good brand traction’ with the acquisition of new and younger customers.
Ten percent of its physical retail stores remained closed at the time of its financial release (12th November), most of which are in the EMEA region due to reinstated lockdowns. This could have a significant impact on its bottom line during the all-important holiday season.
Pinduoduo’s MAUs increase by 74.6 million quarter-on-quarter in Q3
Chinese ecommerce platform Pinduoduo increased its monthly active users (MAUs) by 74.6 million in Q3 compared to the previous quarter, to a total of 643.4 million. Its number of annual active buyers also rose by 36% to 731.3 million compared to the same period in 2019. At just five years old, this makes Pinduoduo the fastest ecommerce company to have surpassed 700 million active buyers.
Gross merchandise value (GMV) reached a whopping 1.5 trillion yuan (+73%), while its revenue climbed 89% year-on-year to 14.2 billion yuan ($2.1 billion US) as Chinese consumers continued to favour online shopping after its peak of the outbreak in the region. A twenty percentage point decrease in sales and marketing expenses helped to boost this figure further.
This success follows innovative action taken by the company to extend its offering to consumers. In August, Pinduoduo launched its grocery delivery service Duo Duo Maicai to meet growing demand amidst the fallout from the pandemic.
Cross-border ecommerce sales expected to rise an average of 63% YoY across the festive season
Predictions from ecommerce brand eShopWorld state global cross-border ecommerce sales could rise an average of 63% year-on-year throughout November and December. It says it expects these sales to grow by 56% in November, followed by a 70% growth in December as shoppers prepare for the holiday season.
Christmas shopping is set to start earlier this year due to the impact from the coronavirus pandemic, however the strong performance anticipated throughout December implies that there will continue to be plenty of last-minute purchases in the lead up to the event.
EShopWorld CEO Tommy Kelly said the company had found a 113% increase in same-store global online sales during October.
As several countries, including parts of the UK, are placed back into lockdown, the importance of retailers’ targeting non-domestic markets for cross-border selling becomes more important than ever to stay competitive.
67% of UK consumers say they’ll spend the same or more this Christmas
A September study of over 1000 UK consumers, conducted by Quantcast, has found 67% plan to spend the same or more money than usual on Christmas this year. This is despite of some 37% of respondents experiencing increased personal financial instability as a result of Covid-19.
However, the uncertainty surrounding Christmas celebrations in 2020 has not caused many to change their plans – just 6% of those who usually celebrate the holiday have said they will skip it this year, while three-quarters believed it to be ‘important’. Those shoppers that are either unfazed, or hope to spend more this festive season, are more likely to be male, aged between 35-44, have children and live in rural or suburban areas, according to analysis.
The first lockdown in spring saw a huge shift in the types of consumers that relied on online shoppingstat across all categories, which could lead to a broader demographic purchasing Christmas gifts online in the new few months (particularly with a second lockdown in England). In the lead up to Christmas 2019, the typical online shopper was female and aged between 25-54, compared to a much older demographic which has dominated the sector since March (female, aged 45-65+).
Combined with data that indicates online shopping during the first lockdown reached nearly twice the peak of ecommerce orders over the festive season in 2019, the retail sector will see an unprecedented demand on online services over winter.
M&S posts a loss for the first time in 94 years
British retailer Marks and Spencer has posted a loss for the first time in 94 years, its latest financial statement reveals. In the six months to the end of September, the company made a loss of £87.6 million versus a £158.8 million profit during the same period of 2019.
Sales fell 15.8% between March and September, mostly impacted by the lack of sales in its clothing and homeware departments. Even food sales struggled, seeing a 20% decline on budget during the four months to July, which hit overall annual revenue by £348 million. However, total food sales rose by a modest 2.7% overall during the full six-month period, boosted by the performance of its standalone Simply Food stores.
There was a slight rise (1.8%) in the number of clothing and homeware sales conducted via its ecommerce arm, but this was not enough to offset the losses from the prolonged closure of 600 of its brick-and-mortar shops in the first lockdown.
However, there is some cause for optimism, at least for its grocery offering, going forward into Q4. Ocado, the online grocery store which recently began delivering M&S produce in September, reported a 47.9% sales growth in the six months to the end of August.
Amazon sales up 37% year-on-year in Q3 2020
A press release outlining Amazon’s Q3 financials has confirmed that the company’s net sales grew 37% year-on-year worldwide, totaling $96.1 billion for the period and surpassing estimates of $92.7 billion. North American net sales were up by 39%, while international net sales rose by 37%.
Sales of its subscription services grew 33% year-on-year, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) grew by 29%. Total profits were up by 200% to $6.3 billion compared to the same quarter the year before, beating Amazon’s previous record of $5.2 billion profit back in Q2.
While Prime Day, which took place from October 13-14, wasn’t included in these results, the company hailed it as the “two biggest days ever for small and medium businesses in Amazon’s stores”. $3.5 billion in sales were made during this event alone, equating to a 60% uplift compared to 2019’s event. Prime members also saved $1.4 billion on goods across the two days, according to the statement from Amazon.
Looking ahead to Q4, sales are expected to reach between $112-121 billion, or to grow between 28-38% year-on-year, as customers opt to do much of their holiday shopping online.
Ebay’s Q3 revenue rises 25% year-on-year
Ebay’s Q3 2020 financial statement has revealed that its revenue rose 25% to $2.61 billion compared to the same period in 2019, beating expert estimates of $2.48 billion. In the quarter ending 30th September, the marketplace also reported that its number of annual active buyers increased by 5% to total 183 million globally.
With Amazon’s sales expected to rise further as the year draws to a close, these strong growth figures are in line with an accelerated trend in one-stop-shop online marketplace shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ebay expects its Q4 2020 earnings to reach up to $2.71 billion, boosted by holiday purchases and has raised its full-year sales outlook to the region of $10.04 to $10.11 billion. This equates to a 19-20% total revenue growth across 2020, where original forecasts predicted a 14-16% growth.
Footfall down 3.5% in shopping centres in week to October 17th as local lockdowns are enforced
The number of shoppers travelling to physical UK retail destinations has fallen for a fourth consecutive week, according to data from customer activity specialist Springboard, reported on by Reuters. Further local lockdown restrictions have been enforced to subdue a second wave of the coronavirus this coming winter, which in some cases includes closing pubs and restaurants in particularly badly-affected areas, providing consumers with even fewer reasons to visit town centres and shopping complexes.
In the week to the 17th October, footfall on UK high streets and retail parks fell by 2.8% and 3% respectively on figures from the week before. However, it was shopping centres that fared the worst, seeing a 3.5% decline during this period.
Unsurprisingly, it was regions of the north that felt the biggest hit as restrictions became especially strict in areas like Manchester and Yorkshire. Footfall in many of these areas dipped by around 5% week-on-week. In total, the decline in shopper numbers across all retail destinations around the UK worsened to 32.3% year-on-year.
This comes alongside news that a record 11,000 UK shops have been permanently closed as a result of the ongoing pandemic so far this year.
MiQ predicts a 17% year-on-year fall in UK retail sales in Q4 2020
In October, programmatic media company MiQ predicted a 17% year-on-year fall in UK retail sales in 2020’s Golden Quarter, amounting to a 2% increase in sales when compared with Q2 2020, if partial lockdowns and restricted mobility remain the same throughout Q4 as they were in Q3.
If this ‘status quo’ is maintained, the brand predicts a 29% quarter-on-quarter increase in online shopping, driven mostly by those aged between 18 and 35, and 24% and 15% declines in non-essential purchases and in-store shopping respectively. Sixty-two percent of 56-65 year olds plan to shop ‘as usual’ – in what’s likely to be a mix of online and offline stores – rising to 64% of those aged over 65. In contrast, despite having the second highest intent to shop online this festive season, 18-25 year olds are also most determined to shop more in physical stores.
The worst-case scenario sees the entire nation put back into lockdown over Q4, impacting consumer confidence (which could decline by between 15-20%) and overall retail sales for the quarter, which may decline by 20% year-on-year or 6% vs Q2 2020. In this situation, purchases of non-essential items could fall 29% lower than in Q4 2019.
Although very unlikely, if a commercially available vaccine is produced before Christmas, spurring on a return to normality, sales could decrease by just 10% on the same period last year and increase by 25% compared to Q2 2020.
Suburban and rural consumers drove the bulk of online grocery shopping growth during the spring peak of the pandemic
Research from GlobalWebIndex has confirmed that suburban and rural consumers helped drive the bulk of global online grocery shopping growth during the first peak of the pandemic in Q2 2020.
Pre-Covid, most consumers that took advantage of the convenience that online grocery shopping affords were millennials living in urban settings. From Q1 this year, those in the Gen Z and Boomer categories have developed more active shopping behaviours in this sector, particularly those that live outside of major population centres.
Globally, the number of internet users in suburban areas that had purchased a grocery item online in the last month rose from 30% in Q1 to 34% in Q2, and those in rural areas followed a similar trend (26% in Q1 to 30% in Q2). Meanwhile, consumers living in urban regions only drove growth of one percentage point over this period.
Latin America saw the largest shift in online grocery shopping adoption throughout this time. The percentage of those who are mainly responsible for grocery shopping in their households that had ordered groceries in the last month started at just 22% in Q1 and grew to 29% by the end of Q2 – a 31% uplift. This was followed by North America, which saw a 23% positive change.
Growth appeared slow in Europe by comparison, with only a 9% increase, however individual countries in the region varied massively. The UK saw the greatest change, and three in 10 internet users had shopped online for grocery products by the second quarter.
ASOS UK sales up 18% year-on-year to Sept
ASOS UK sales have risen by 18% year-on-year to £1.18bn, according to the brand’s full year financial statement ending August 31st 2020. International retail markets, which include the European, US and ROW regions, performed even higher at +20% during the same period.
The statement also revealed that the company has seen a 3.1 million rise in its active customer base, which now totals 23.4 million across the world, reflecting increased brand engagement spurred on by the pandemic.
This news comes despite issues with the retailer’s supply chain when Covid-19 first hit, as well as huge volatility in sales across the fashion sector throughout the spring when lockdowns were enforced on much of the Western world. The brand also said it continues to remain cautious about the financial impact the crisis is having on its core 20-something customer base, which could affect sales and basket sizes over the festive period and in the longer term.
Nick Beighton, ASOS CEO, added to the statement: “I am pleased by the improvements we have made this year but there is still more for us to do to continue our progress. Whilst life for our 20-something customers is unlikely to return to normal for quite some time, ASOS will continue to engage, respond and adapt as one of the few truly global leaders in online fashion retail.”
80% of brands do not have a loyalty programme in their marketing strategy
Despite droves of online shoppers switching between brands this year, as many as 80% of organisations still do not have loyalty programmes integrated into their marketing strategies, October research from Dotdigital confirms.
A further 43% of companies with an ecommerce arm fail to collect enough key customer data, such as date of birth, to offer them crucial personalised messaging, while 40% admitted they don’t publish post-purchase reviews – a key purchase driver. An additional two-thirds of those surveyed failed to send editorial marketing communications, which help to highlight the value of a brand and its products.
Consequently, numerous companies are missing out on the opportunity to acquire repeat online business from these new customers, whether from lack of loyalty to a brand, irrelevant content or not enough social proof on display from past shoppers.
According to the data, 38% of consumers are keen to acquire brand credit with actions outside of buying products, for example writing reviews or interacting with social accounts. Interestingly, thirty-nine percent only consider themselves ‘loyal’ to a company after completing a fifth purchase, but with the majority of brands not making the effort to incentivise engagement, they have little reason to stick around.
International online sales of luxury goods increased by 170% year-on-year in August and September
International online sales of luxury goods increased by 170% year-on-year in August and September, according to analysis from eShopWorld.
As retail begins its slow recovery on a global scale, the cross-border luxury market appears to be faring well following sales performance in July that was 40% above those seen in the lead up to Christmas last year (a period which is usually the strongest in the calendar alongside new year discounts).
Luxury has been one of the most hard-hit sectors of the industry as consumers rein in their spending and focus on essential items throughout the pandemic. The closure of physical stores, as well as shoppers’ reluctance to splash out and other unpredictable online behaviours has caused experts to predict drops of 40-60% in experiential luxury and 25%-45% in personal luxury sales year-on-year.
Despite this gloomy outlook, the late summer growth figures indicate that brands are altering their marketing strategies to prioritise digital, thereby bringing luxury online experiences to those outside of their usual domestic markets. CEO of eShopWorld, Tommy Kelly, explained, “In the current climate, there is incredible opportunity for luxury beyond the traditional channels and markets, particularly as older shoppers have become more comfortable with online, while digital natives are, of course, already there.”
Tesco’s pre-tax profit surges 28.7% year-on-year
Tesco’s 2020/21 interim results have indicated a 28.7% year-on-year surge in pre-tax profits for the company in what has been a landmark year for the grocery sector.
Food sales rose by 9.2% in the 26 weeks to the end of August, but interest in its clothing line F&F fell, resulting in a 17.2% drop in sales for this category. Average basket size in large stores grew by 56%. Unsurprisingly, fuel sales fell by 42% on 2019 as the general public were encouraged to stay at home throughout national lockdown in spring and early summer. The brand also said it had so far spent £533 million on Covid-19 safety measures for its staff and customers throughout the pandemic.
Online delivery capacity doubled to 1.5 million weekly slots as a result of heightened demand at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. It also revealed that it had served 674,000 vulnerable or shielding customers so far.
Meanwhile, operating profits fell by 15.6%, largely due to Tesco Bank which made a loss of £155 million during this period.
Tesco’s new Chief Executive, Ken Murphy said in a statement, “The first half of this year has tested our business in ways we had never imagined, and our colleagues have risen brilliantly to every challenge, acting in the best interests of our customers and local communities throughout.
Ocado named 2020’s fastest-growing UK brand
BrandZ has named grocery chain Ocado as the UK’s fastest growing brand in its annual Top 75 Most Valuable Brands report.
The company jumped 16 places in the Top 75 list this year, following a 63.3% growth in brand value change since 2019, settling at number 18. Its online-only formula, unlike other brands in the sector which also have brick-and-mortar stores, places it in an excellent position for growth through digital innovation. According to the report, demand for its services during the peak of the pandemic was at 10 times it usual level for the time of year.
Others that have seen particularly fast growth this year also fall within the food category – Deliveroo, growing by 40% in brand value change this year, made number 29 on the list, while Just Eat grew by 19%, placing it just below Ocado at number 20.
Vodafone came out on top in the top 75 most valuable brands list, followed by HSBC, Shell, BP and BT, despite all of these brands measuring double-digit declines in brand value since last year. In fact, just 10 brands out of all 75 experienced growth overall, highlighting the massive impact Covid-19 has had on the majority of verticals. The rest saw declines or flat growth or were new to the list in 2020.
Global ad spend predicted to fall 10.2% year-on-year in 2020
In a November report, WARC predicts that global ad spend will fall 10.2% to $557.3 billion in 2020 compared to results from 2019. The ongoing fallout from the pandemic has meant that traditional media has had its worst year on record and this has had an enormous effect on the industry as a whole.
Drilling down by industry, ad spend in automotive is expected to decline the most severely overall in 2020, with a loss of $11 billion. Travel and tourism could see ad spend drop by a total of 33.8%, but looks set to rebound at the fastest rate next year at +19.5%. After a very volatile year, total retail ad spend could fall 16.2% to $54.3 billion and is only projected to rebound with a 5.9% growth next year – a much slower rate than some other verticals like automotive (predicted +14.1%) and media and publishing (+8.4%). Business and industrial could also struggle, as its forecast growth of 5.3% means investment in this sector could only increase by 2.5% on 2019.
Consequently, WARC says it could take up to two years for ad spend to fully recover to levels seen before the onset of the coronavirus. According to analysis, a 6.7% growth in ad spend throughout 2021 will only be able to make up for 59% of losses that occurred this year. In 2022, ad spend would need to rise a further 4.4% to finally meet 2019’s $620.6 billion.
Video game industry ad spend rose 80% year-on-year in the first two weeks of November
The video game industry spent more than $45 million in ad spend over the first two weeks of November this year; a rise of 80% year-on-year, according to ad sales intelligence company MediaRadar.
This news follows a bumper year for the gaming industry as engagement amongst its core audience reached record highs and both Sony and Microsoft brought brand new consoles to market. In fact, it was the latter that drove much of the increase in ad spend. According to the data, Sony spent more than $15 million advertising the new PlayStation 5 in the month before its release – more than three times what Microsoft spent promoting its equivalent Xbox Series X. Nintendo also contributed to the rise, with ad spend increasing 138% in the first two weeks of November compared to the two weeks prior – all the better to compete with its rivals.
New games have also been released to coincide with these major new console launches, such as Call of Duty: Cold War and Assassins Creed: Valhalla, causing a 76% year-on-year increase in ad spend from video game titles overall. Additionally, popular gaming retailers increased promotions during these two weeks in an attempt to entice fans to spend throughout the much-anticipated launches.
ITV reports 7% year-on-year drop in ad spend for Q3
ITV has reported that its ad spend improved in Q3 after the first wave of the coronavirus caused a significant 43% decline in the broadcaster’s ad revenue throughout Q2.
In the third quarter, total ad spend was down by 7% year-on-year. Of the three months to September, July was the worst performing (down 23%) but August was up 3%. Meanwhile, September’s ad spend was down 2% and October, which falls in Q4, was down 1% – however, both of these months were up against coverage of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, suggesting ITV’s advertising outlook is improving rapidly, all things considered.
Categories that spent more money advertising with ITV in Q3 2020 than in Q3 2019 included FMCG, Supermarkets, Publishing and Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Food and Government, among others.
Despite this promising analysis, total ad revenue for the nine months to 30th September was down 16% on the same time last year, however online revenues picked up slightly at +2% growth.
ITV remains optimistic and predicts its advertising revenue will return to growth in Q4, providing the national lockdown restrictions end as planned on 2nd December, with an expected 6% uplift in November alone.
2021 projected UK ad spend growth revised down
Data from the latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report has predicted that ad spend recovery in the UK next year could be slower than originally expected. The previous estimate of a 16.6% return-to-growth in the sector throughout 2021, presented back in July, has therefore been revised down to 14.4%.
According to the report, cinema ad spend is set to make a strong rebound at a rate of 138.3% next year as long-awaited delayed blockbusters like James Bond: No Time To Die are finally released. Meanwhile, healthy growth in OOH ad spend is expected (+57.1%), after being heavily impacted by national and local lockdowns in 2020. Verticals that are underpinned by digital and online formats such as magazine brands and regional news brands are also predicted to fare better than most next year.
Overall ad spend for the whole of 2020 is now due to fall 14.5% on last year to £21.5 billion – a loss of £3.6 billion compared to 2019, with the Q4 period offsetting some of the damage thanks to festive advertising. However, the final quarter is still expected to see a 10.5% fall in ad spend compared to the same period in 2019.
UK ad spend is not expected to recover fully until well into 2022, the report claimed.
UK digital ad spend fell 5% year-on-year in H1 2020
Research from IAB UK, as reported by WARC, has found that UK digital ad spend fell by 5% in H1 2020 compared with figures from the first half of 2019.
Across the sub-categories within the digital marketing sphere, some areas performed better than others. Display advertising grew by 0.3% year-on-year to £2.84 billion, within which video advertising rose 5.7% mirroring increased engagement consumers had with video streaming services over lockdown. Without video’s strong growth, overall digital ad spend results would have been much worse.
Search ad spend, meanwhile, dropped by 3.7% during this period, representing a £143 million fall in revenue on H1 2019. Mobile ad spend also saw a decline, but a much more modest 1%. However, one of the worst affected areas of digital ad spend was classifieds, which saw a massive 33% fall in revenue, decreasing by £235 million to £485 million.
44% of online publishers expect traffic to exceed pre-Covid levels this festive period
Further data from Rakuten Advertising’s ‘The Road to Recovery’ report (using responses from June/July) has found 44% of online publishers expect traffic this festive period to exceed that of pre-Covid levels.
So far, 49% of affiliate publishers questioned said that they had seen traffic increase since the coronavirus pandemic began and 72% have not made any changes to the cost of placements or inventory on their platforms. However, several have adapted their operations amid the coronavirus crisis. More than one-third (34%) claim to have offered more opportunities to their advertisers for the same, or discounted, cost, while another 27% say they have created new inventory and campaigns.
It seems advertisers are mostly thinking on a short-term basis when it comes to this year’s Golden Quarter and this was cited as the biggest notable change in behaviour since this time last year. Seventy percent of publishers have noticed that most advertisers are planning campaigns to run between a one and three month period. Meanwhile, forty-three percent of those surveyed said that advertisers appeared to be spending less money overall.
The majority (58%) believe ads for discounts, deals and offers have been driving the most traffic through publisher sites, followed by highly personalised content (38%) and trending categories such as gaming, home furnishing and beauty (27%). When it comes to the types of platforms that are driving the most traffic, respondents cited organic search (48%), social media (34%) and mobile (29%).
US political ad spend will help US ad market to only a 2% decline
Media research company MAGNA Global predicts that US political TV ad spending during the second half of 2020 will help to stabilise the volatile ad market in the region. According to its findings, US ad spend is expected to decline by 2% year-on-year in H2 2020; improving by more than five percentage points on the drop recorded in the first half of this year (-7.2%).
With the election just around the corner, political advertising in the US could see its highest rate of spending ever at an estimated $5.1bn (after a stronger-than-expected uptake in H1), curbing overall damage to ad spend growth and marking a predicted 4.6% decline for the entire year. Had the election not occurred this year, this negative growth would have been much worse.
The research also found that around two-thirds of all political ad spend will be assigned to local TV, while the second largest area of spend is set to be digital ad platforms which could see $1bn in total earnings. Such digital ad platforms, including Google, and Facebook, appeared resistant to severe ad spend impact in the second quarter, growing by 5.7% as a result during H1 2020.
Meanwhile, MAGNA Global said that it predicts a 4% overall ad spend growth in the US for 2021.
64% of marketers believe language is more important than ever in marketing communications
Survey results from hundreds of senior marketers, conducted by Phrasee and published in September, have thrown the importance of the language used in marketing communications into the spotlight amid Covid-19.
Sixty-four percent agreed that ‘language has never been more important in helping a brand connect with its customers than it is today’, making it a top priority in the marketing leadership agenda. Consequently, 71% expect to spend more time scrutinising the language in their content in future marketing plans and budgets.
However, data also revealed that 82% of marketers struggle to create high quality branded content that uses effective language. Thirty-seven percent cited lack of investment in content creation and a further 37% claimed a lack of time spent on content as reasons for this, while another 36% stated they do not have enough writers on staff. Therefore, a little over half (51%) believe they are unable to create scalable and consistent messaging across different marketing channels.
Dettol advert off the mark, YouGov finds
A recent Dettol advert that went viral highlighted what their marketing department deemed workers missed most about the typical office environment. However, a September YouGov survey that questioned the British public on this topic proves that Dettol was considerably misinformed.
Two-thirds of the workforce indeed miss seeing their colleagues on a regular basis, the survey revealed. This was followed by face-to-face meetings and office gossip, which a further 49% and 38% of respondents cited as aspects of office life that they missed the most. Unsurprisingly, setting an early alarm was least missed by British workers (4%), as well as more trivial topics like the smell of the office (5%), the office décor e.g. plastic plants (7%) and the boss’s jokes (13%).
One particularly bizarre choice of copy featured on the now infamous Dettol ad was referring to colleagues as a ‘second family’. While the majority of Brits do claim they miss their co-workers, just 24% agree that they view them as ‘second family’, with women marginally more likely to do so than men, perhaps proving why the public perceived the advert as so off the mark.
Global mobile ad spend soared 71% in Q2
PubMatic’s Mobile Quarterly Index found that mobile ad spend soared 71% year-on-year during Q2, rising to 77% in the Americas, as spending across other areas was slashed.
While APAC experienced lesser year-on-year growth than other geographical areas (+66%) its 30% quarter-on-quarter growth was particularly strong, reflecting both the increasing cost of ads in the region and its advanced position in the timeline of the global pandemic. This could indicate that APAC will see the strongest immediate recovery in this metric as the outbreak subsides.
Nearly half of EMEA marketers are hoping to allocate more than 25% of their budgets to mobile ads this year, spurred on by the coronavirus crisis and the resulting uptick in social media consumption and time spent in-app – whether that’s gaming, shopping or browsing.
Despite being heavily impacted at the start of the outbreak, mobile video platform spend has seen a strong and steady recovery since the end of April and is now measuring 116% up on pre-pandemic levels in the US. As of Q2 this year, mobile now has a majority share of video ad spend across APAC (74%), EMEA (70%) and the Americas (60%).
JC Decaux revenue down 63% in Q2 2020
In its most recent financial statement, JC Decaux stated its revenue plummeted by 63.4% in the second quarter of 2020, a figure it claimed was ‘historic’ for the company. OOH advertising has taken a huge hit from lockdowns and stay-at-home orders around the world and JC Decaux’s data reflects the extent of financial losses felt in the industry.
In Q2, the company reported €351.9 million in revenue, down from 1 billion during the same period in 2019. Revenue in Q1 was less badly affected, but still recorded a 13.1% year-on-year drop from €840 million to €723.6 million. Overall revenue for H1 was down by 41.6%.
When it comes to revenue via geographic area, most regions saw relatively similar year-on-year declines. France and North America faired the best with -37.1% and -38.3% revenue growth respectively, while ROW and APAC saw the worst revenue declines of -48% and -43.7%.
The company said it has scrapped its earnings guidance for 2020 in light of the ongoing disruption and uncertainty caused by Covid-19.
Biggest recorded drop in UK marketing budgets takes place in Q2 2020
The net balance of organisations that have cut marketing budgets fell to -50.7% in Q2, down from -6.1% in Q1. This latest figure is the biggest drop recorded by the IPA Bellwether Report since the report began twenty years ago – including the Q4 2008 financial crisis when marketing budgets were slashed to -41.7%.
Nearly 64% of those surveyed stated they had recorded a decrease in marketing spend between April and June, compared to 25% who recorded a decrease between January and March. Just 13% said they had seen an increase in budget for the same period.
Drilling down, a net balance of -76.6% of organisations reported cuts to their events marketing budgets in Q2, with just 3.6% claiming they had risen. Meanwhile, the reduction in main media budgets dropped to a net balance of -51.1%, the largest decline seen by the report for this metric. Out of all subcategories in main media marketing, OOH budgets unsurprisingly were hit the hardest (-61.2%), followed by audio (-50.0%) and published brands (-49.2%).
Direct marketing and PR budgets were least affected in the second quarter, but still recorded a severe downturn in net balance to -41.6%.
Events of 2020 have changed brands’ social media priorities for 2021
A recent Hootsuite report – Social Trends 2021 – has identified how the events of 2020 have changed brands’ priorities in social media marketing for 2021. Conducted throughout Q3 2020, the survey interviewed more than 11,000 marketers from across the globe.
Between July and September this year, Instagram’s advertising reach increased by 7.1%, more than three times that of Facebook’s, which saw a 2.2% growth. Despite this, Facebook is viewed by 78% of brands as the most effective way of achieving business targets.
Instagram’s 2020 growth in reach can’t be ignored, however, and is reflected in the fact that 61% of brands are planning to increase their budgets for this platform in the coming year. Facebook ranks second (46%), followed by YouTube in third (45%). Interestingly, despite the huge popularity of TikTok since the pandemic started, only 14% hope to increase their budgets for the channel, making it second least prioritised social media platform after Snapchat (4%).
When it comes to businesses’ social goals for 2021, increased acquisition of new customers is the clear winner, with 73% of organisations citing this as a top objective compared to just 46% last year. Increased awareness of their brand was also considered important by 64% of respondents, as was driving more conversions (45%).
Brand interest in influencers has increased due to Covid-19, but creators are feeling the pressure
Influencer marketing has proven resilient in the face of Covid-19-induced challenges, such as suspended campaigns and sponsorship details in the initial stages of the pandemic, a dearth of events, and the inability to go jet-setting off to glamorous locations. HypeAuditor, an AI analytics platform that promotes transparency in influencer marketing, surveyed nearly 1,000 global social media influencers and brands to find that 59% of influencers have seen more brands wanting to partner with them since the outbreak of Covid-19, with 50% of brands having allocated more budget to influencer marketing since the pandemic began.
However, two thirds (66%) of influencers are also feeling added pressure to create content, with 40% attributing this to the number of influencers who have emerged since the start of the pandemic – indicating that many are sensing an opportunity in this burgeoning space. Just over a third (34%) have said that the added pressure is because they are striving for better brand deals.
On the brand side of things, nearly three quarters (73%) of brands surveyed said that they were currently working with influencers, and 69% reported that there had been an increase in the number of influencers they could work with since the onset of the pandemic.
None of this would have been possible if influencer marketing hadn’t adapted to the pandemic and continued to feel authentic despite the unprecedented situation. Six in 10 influencers report that they have changed their content since the outbreak of Covid-19, with 21% saying that their content had shifted so much, they had abandoned their original focus. Forty-two percent have also been publishing more frequently during the pandemic, with 22% posting at different times of day compared to their pre-pandemic patterns.
Tencent reports an 89% rise in profit for Q3
Tencent, which owns mobile platforms WeChat and QQ, as well as several best-selling browser and mobile games, appears to be reaping the benefits of the video gaming boom that has come about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In a financial statement, the Chinese company said it had seen an 89% rise in profit in the three months through September and made a total of 125 billion yuan (US $18.4 billion) in revenue.
Its online games arm reported a 45% increase in revenues (41.4 billion yuan) thanks to the unprecedented growth of its hit titles such as Peacekeeper Elite and Honour of Kings, the latter of which reached 100 million DAUs in the first 10 months of 2020. Meanwhile, revenues across its social media offerings reached 28 billion yuan, an uplift of 29%, and online advertising revenues also saw a healthy growth of 16% on the same quarter last year.
Aside from increased engagement with video games and social media on a global scale since Covid-19 hit, Ma Huateng, Tencent’s CEO, attributed some success to its ‘strategic organisation upgrade’ which was implemented two years ago. It also reflects the rebound in economic stability that China has experienced following its recovery from the worst of the pandemic.
Twitter’s ad revenue returned to growth in Q3 2020, up 15% year-on-year
Following a 23% decline in Q2 2020, Twitter’s ad revenue returned to a 15% year-on-year growth throughout Q3, totaling $808 million, according to its financial statement. These figures are in line with a general global uplift in social ad spending during the quarter ending 30th September as many regions relaxed lockdown restrictions.
Monetisable Daily Active Users (mDAUs) grew 29% to 187 million – a healthy rate but slower than that which was seen in Q2 (+34% year-on-year), suggesting some normalising of summer usage after the spike caused by restrictions in the springtime. Meanwhile, total ad engagements rose by 27% year-on-year but cost per engagement dropped by 9%.
Looking ahead, the company seemed optimistic of its ad revenue for Q4: ‘October looks a lot like September with events and product launches coming back and we are benefitting from all of the hard work we’ve done to make Twitter a must buy for advertisers’. It also called the Christmas period ‘a buying season that may be accelerated and even more digital than ever before’.
Global social ad spend rises 56.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2020
SocialBakers’ Q3 2020 Social Media Trends Report has found that global social ad spend rose 56.4% in Q3 2020 compared with figures recorded at the end of Q2. This figure increases to 61.7% in North America, with the widespread Facebook ad boycott in this and other regions throughout Q2 partly responsible for the sharp upturn in Q3.
Central America saw the second highest growth between these two periods at 55.6%, while Western Europe came third (50.4%). By the end of September, the average global ad spend on social media was nearly double that of its lowest level at the end of March when many Western lockdowns were first imposed.
Encouragingly, the report indicates overall global ad spend on social has returned to levels similar to those seen in Q3 2019, and marketers predict that it will continue to improve over the holiday season as brands try to entice consumers to shop for gifts via social platforms.
Zooming in, social ad spend saw the highest jump across the FMCG food (+61.3%), automotive (+59.4%), finance (+35.3%) and ecommerce sectors (+27.5%). However, spend in the accommodation industry remained volatile throughout the quarter amid a second wave of the virus, ending with comparable spend levels to those seen in the latter part of Q2.
Facebook ad revenue rose 22% year-on-year in Q3 2020
Facebook has announced its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, in which ad revenue rose 22% year-on-year to $21.2 billion. This is a much larger growth than the 10% year-on-year growth reported in Q2, which was affected by a decrease in ad spending from financial uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the Facebook ad boycott.
Both Daily and Monthly Active Users increased by 12% compared to Q3 2019, reaching 1.8 and 2.7 billion users respectively. However, the company said it had seen a quarter-on-quarter decline in active users from the US and Canada as unusually high engagement rates earlier in the year began to level off.
Meanwhile, Family Monthly Active People (users who access at least one app monthly from Facebook’s family of apps, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) remained high at 14% up on Q3 last year.
In its financial statement, Facebook said that Q4 advertising revenues so far appear to be performing even more strongly than those recorded in Q3, likely boosted by brands looking to increase their festive sales.
One in four online purchases are now made via an interaction with a social media platform
Analysis commissioned by Visa, which studied shopping habits over the six months to October, has found that one in four online purchases in the UK are now made as a result of interacting with a social media platform.
Furthermore, close to a fifth (17%) of consumers purposely turn to social apps for shopping. Of those that do, 35% cited convenience as a key purchase driver, while 26% also said they liked how quick it is to check out. However, more than half (57%) admitted to neglecting online security by not always reviewing third party ratings for the websites they were purchasing from.
More often than not, data shows, consumers are disappointed with the goods they receive when shopping via social platforms. Fifty-eight percent of respondents claimed they were dissatisfied with their purchases and 38% were in the process of trying to process a refund or return of such items. Worryingly, with more than half (54%) failing to check the refund/returns policies of social retailers, just one-fifth said they have received a full refund via the method with which they first paid and 88% said they have been left out of pocket for at least one purchase.
These figures highlight the potential risk associated with purchasing from lesser-known retailers that advertise on social media. The way in which social media lends itself to more impulsive spending, particularly with the addition of speedy checkout, also appears to mean that shoppers are less likely to make the necessary security checks that they might usually do when landing on a webpage directly from search results, for example.
17 million UK social media users now spend 66 minutes or more per day on TikTok
In light of Covid-19, TikTok saw a massive surge in global downloads as social media users attempted to distract themselves or fill up free time with short video content.
Internal data from TikTok, as seen and reported by Bloomberg in September, suggests 17 million UK consumers now spend 66 minutes on the app per day on average, opening it on their mobile devices 13 times in every 24 hour period. The analysis also found four in ten Monthly Active Users (MAUs) in the region are aged between 18 and 24 years old. Prior TikTok data from Q1 this year, just before the coronavirus crisis hit the UK, estimated the app had 10 million regular UK users, highlighting the rapid growth in usership that has occurred since the national lockdown was put in place – something that is reflected in markets all over the world.
While Britain has the largest number of users consuming TikTok content in Europe, Norwegian users are the most dedicated, totalling an average 77 minutes of activity and 17 app activations per day. Across all of Europe, most TikTok users are women, with the trend almost overwhelming in Spain, where almost three-quarters of users are female, and the UK (65%).
These figures surpass previous third-party estimates of TikTok’s growth throughout 2020, emphasising the benefits in user numbers, activation and time spent in-app as a result of the pandemic.
TikTok reveals more than a 181m growth in global MAUs throughout H1 2020
TikTok divulged its user growth for the first time in late August as it filed a lawsuit against the US government over its potential banning in the region, CNBC has reported. The figures revealed that its global user base reached nearly 700m monthly active users (MAUs) in July 2020, a 181m growth since December last year. It is estimated more than 100m of those are based in the US.
The app’s biggest spike in global popularity occurred between January and December 2018, when it first began its ascent to social media fame in the West, jumping from 54m to 271m MAUs. User growth has continued to rise at a healthy trajectory since; steepening slightly this year due to increased interest amid the coronavirus pandemic and marking an almost 800% rise in MAUs between the start of 2018 and July 2020.
This comes as findings from an IPA report confirm that the social media platform more than doubled its reach to 15-24 year olds throughout the coronavirus lockdown, up from 14% to 30%. Meanwhile, other social apps increased their reach to this age group only modestly; YouTube, for example, climbed just three percentage points to 63% during the same period.
The number of global small businesses that remained closed in October was 15% up year-on-year
Facebook’s latest Global State of Small Business Report, published in December, has found that the number of small businesses that remained closed throughout October as a result of the pandemic was up 15% year-on-year. While this is an improvement on levels between 20-40% recorded during the first peak of the crisis (May 2020), data shows the rate of recovery has been slowing in recent months, particularly in Europe.
The report, which analysed 25,000 SMEs from over 50 countries, also revealed that, of those SMEs that did remain open throughout October, 55% claimed their sales continued to be lower than the same time the year before – an improvement of just 7 percentage points since the first survey was conducted in May.
46% of media, marketing and advertising freelancers in the UK say they are no longer constrained by the location of clients
Forty six percent of media, marketing and advertising freelancers say they are no longer constrained by the location of their clients, thanks to recent advances in remote working, according to research from Worksome, published in December.
The survey of more than 500 UK freelancers in the sector also found 23% of contractors outside of the London area now work for companies that are based overseas, compared to 15% of those in London. However, almost half (49%) of respondents said they predict fewer jobs to be available from January due to the extra pressure businesses will be under from Brexit, on top of difficulties from Covid-19.
More than one in five UK workers have become freelancers throughout the course of the coronavirus outbreak, accelerating the trend of contracting becoming more widespread. Fifteen percent of these new freelancers said that the reason they moved to this type of work was because of redundancy where they used to work permanently.
For most, the change is set to be longstanding, with 83% stating they hope to continue working contractually after the pandemic subsides. The events of this year have also improved the general outlook of contractors. Fifty-seven percent said freelancing has been a positive thing for them during Covid-19, likely due to the flexibility it offers while juggling other responsibilities like childcare. A further one in five have observed that there are more contractual jobs available since the workforce became less permanent, and an additional 37% claim they have been more productive when working.
97% of event marketers believe hybrid events are the future
Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the events business, eliminating crowded conferences and expos and forcing events organisers to adapt by shifting online. However, the outlook from the events industry is positive in the wake of this change.
Bizzabo’s Evolution of Events Report, published on 13th November and based on a survey of almost 400 event and marketing professionals, found that 97% of event marketers believe hybrid events are the future – and that going forward, the most rewarding events will have a virtual component.
More than 80% also reported greater audience reach from their events thanks to the shift to virtual technology, due in large part to the elimination of barriers to attendance such as travel, venue capacities, accommodation booking and other costs.
All of this has led to nearly a fifth of marketers (18%) reporting that they intend to increase their event marketing budget for 2021, with many already planning events for 2021 that will be supported by an online component. This widespread acceptance of hybrid events – and willingness to invest in them – is even more remarkable considering that 77% of respondents say they have never hosted a hybrid event before.
51% of UK marketers say they have lost in-house digital talent as a result of Covid-19
A September report from Serpico by Croud suggests that 51% of UK marketers have lost in-house digital talent as a result of Covid-19. Fifty-seven percent of these losses came from redundancy, 43% from furlough and 35% from those who had resigned from their roles since March. For larger UK businesses (those with 250-500 employees), the percentage that lost in-house talent during this period was as high as 61%.
UK businesses still perceive sigificant barriers to in-housing digital marketing, with 39% citing finding the right talent as a major barrier to in-housing, followed by budget cuts (38%). All in all, the future of sourcing digital talent for in-house teams looks to be as uncertain as ever.
Despite these significant losses and barriers, however, the report revealed that UK marketers are as keen as ever to move to in-housing digital talent at their organisations. Forty-nine percent of respondents said that they were planning on actioning this as a result of the pandemic, compared to a smaller 40% of those based in the US.
However, to mitigate issues down the line, not all of those hoping to switch to an in-house model are looking to do so entirely, at least for now. In the UK, 27% of UK marketers say they are planning to in-house marketing more as a result of Covid-19, but with the support of an agency; 11% plan to in-house their digital marketing less and rely on agency support, while 17% plan to increase in-housing and move away from agency support altogether.
57% of British workers want to continue working from home after the Covid-19 crisis subsides
Fifty-seven percent of British workers say they’d like to continue working from home, some or all of the time, once the Covid-19 crisis subsides, data from YouGov, collected in early September, has found.
Before the outbreak began, 68% of the workforce never worked from home, while 19% did for some of the time and just 13% did full time. As has been reported frequently, Covid-19 has initiated a huge shift in flexible and remote working as a means of adapting. By early September, one third of workers were still working from home full time, even after the government encouraged the population to return to their physical workplaces. This number is likely to rise again now that restrictions and messaging have been revised.
The idea of striking a balance between office and home working is one that seems to appeal highly to British workers once things return to normal – whenever that may be. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said that splitting their time across the office and home would be their preferred option. Meanwhile, the same percentage specified that they would still opt to be based in an office or other physical workspace full time – 29% fewer people than originally worked this way before the pandemic.
Three quarters of staff who are working from home expect their employer to continue to offer this arrangement after the crisis is over. As a result, one in five of the British workforce say they would consider moving far away (non-commutable distance) from the office, rising to 28-30% of those currently based in London, and 22% would even contemplate moving to a different country.
Zoom has reported a 355% year-on-year rise in quarterly revenue during Q2
Video conferencing platform Zoom released its Q2 2020 financial results at the end of August, revealing that revenues were up 355% on the same quarter in 2019. Meanwhile, profit over this period rose to $185.7 million compared to $5.5m the year before.
The software gained popularity as a method for hosting virtual meetings during Covid-19 lockdowns when the ability to meet up physically became suddenly impossible on a global scale. It said that, by the end of the second quarter, it had approximately 370,200 subscribers with more than 10 employees – a staggering growth of 458% year-on-year.
As a result, Zoom have increased its revenue estimations for the year from $1.8 billion (originally forecast in June) to $2.4 billion, as fears of a second wave put off some workers from returning to office spaces. Sky News reports that shares in the company have risen fivefold in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
US daytime TV consumption by professionals working from home rose 21% year-on-year in October
Insight from Nielsen indicates that US daytime TV consumption has climbed since workers have become accustomed to working mostly from home. In October alone, there was a 21% increase in time professionals spent watching TV (either live, time-shifted, via an internet-connected device, or on a game console) between 9am and 4pm – the equivalent of 26 more minutes per day than in the same month in 2019.
Data from an August Nielsen study on remote workers also found that 65% of remote workers in the region watched TV or streamed video content while taking work breaks, and a further 56% admitted to watching TV with sound when they were also working. Nielsen noted that while media habits have “normalised” since the initial shelter-in-place restrictions, daytime TV has become a “second primetime” and has skewed consumption, perhaps permanently if working from home becomes a more accepted norm following the pandemic.
By contrast, those not in the US workforce were actually found to have watched less TV in October 2020 than they did in October 2019, with declines ranging from 8% to 2% depending on the time of day. Meanwhile, children aged between 6 and 11 years old spent, on average, three hours and 25 minutes more watching TV during designated school hours. For children aged 12-17, there was an increase of two hours.
Marketers should take note of this trend and use their budgets wisely to target new audiences now watching far more TV than usual, and at significantly different times.
Netflix obtains just 2.2 million new subscribers in Q3, a more than 67% decrease on the same quarter in 2019
After very strong performance in Q1 and Q2, which resulted in a total of more than 17 million new subscribers, Netflix obtained just 2.2 million new subscribers in Q3, it has said in a statement. The quarter beginning July and ending September is typically one of strong growth for the streaming platform, but these latest figures put it 67% behind subscriber numbers acquired during the same period of 2019.
Just 177,000 of these new subscribers came from the United States – one of its largest markets around the globe.
There’s likely to be a myriad of reasons for this dramatic deceleration in growth, including consumers wanting to spend more time outdoors over the summer season after a prolonged period of indoor confinement. Subscriber cancellations following controversy surrounding one of its shows, ‘Cuties’, could also have been a partial cause. In a statement, Netflix cited the theory that those who wanted to subscribe during the pandemic had already done so at its peak in the first half of the year – the ‘pull-forward’ effect it predicted in its Q2 financial statement.
However, the brand is now close to having obtained 200 million total global subscribers, well above that of rival Disney+ (estimated 60 million subscribers), despite disappointing Q3 results. Retention and overall new subscriber numbers across the whole of the calendar year were also up, it said.
58% of entertainment industry senior executives are confident in their business performance in H2 2020
WARC reports findings from live entertainment company Branded, which suggest 58% of senior executives in the entertainment industry are confident in their business performance over H2 2020. This is despite an unforgiving first half of the year for the sector, with most entertainment venues having been forced to close their doors and many still unable to reopen due to safety concerns.
Data from the survey shows 70% of entertainment’s key decision-makers believe that the crisis will continue for up to two years, while a further 17% expect it to last up to five years. Nearly one quarter of all respondents identified their organisation as ‘in a state of decline’, but 13% say they are ‘very confident’ and 45% say they are ‘somewhat confident’ about their company’s prospects over the next half-year. Smaller companies, which turn over <$1m annually, are more likely to be upbeat about future performance than larger companies which make over $6m.
Although senior executives are, for the most part, keeping positive about their business operations, more than a third have admitted to a decline in their overall mental health in the last six months, causing them to be more conscious of wellbeing and purpose-driven workplace practices.
Mobile app downloads rose 31.7% year-on-year in Q2
The number of apps downloaded globally across the App Store and Google Play in Q2 rose by 31.7% year-on-year in Q2 2020 to 37.8 billion, a report from Sensortower has confirmed. Video conferencing app Zoom was the most downloaded app in worldwide between April and June, beating TikTok which ranked second. As a result, Zoom is just the third app in history that has surpassed 300 million installs in any one quarter, alongside TikTok and Pokemon Go.
Business, healthcare and educational apps thrived in Q2, while travel, navigation and sports apps suffered from a period of low installs. Rideshare apps Uber and Lyft experienced a severe decline in US installs and as of late June were still 57% and 59% behind pre-Covid levels despite many restrictions easing.
Entertainment apps also fared well – Disney+ took the number 14 spot in the US and entered the top 20 apps in Europe for the first time, ranking at number 15. Meanwhile, global mobile game downloads saw healthy growth, up 51.2% and 19.6% from Q2 2019 on Google Play and the App Store respectively. Popular app Roblox jumped from its number 11 Q1 ranking to number 2 in the US as shelter-in-place orders were enforced, while battle royale sensation Fortnite saw an 88% increase in US downloads quarter-on-quarter having newly released the game on Google Play in April.
Disney loses $4.7bn in revenue during Q2, but Disney+ subscribers soar
Between its launch in the UK (24th March) and early July, 16% of online adults in the UK had subscribed to Disney+. The research has also confirmed that it has surpassed NowTV when it comes to subscription numbers in the UK, ranking it the third most popular SVoD in the country after Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, 95% of those who subscribe to Disney+ also have a subscription with at least one of these other two services, suggesting that Disney+ offers supplementary entertainment and will likely not replace them as an outright alternative.
In June, Disney+ was accessed by 32% of UK households containing children between the ages of 3 and 11, an increase from 21% in April, overtaking the reach of BBC iPlayer among this demographic, which fell from 26% to 22% during the same period. As a result, this proves Disney+ is continuing to gain momentum with families despite the easing of lockdown, and in some cases is replacing BBC children’s content.
Ofcom data also found that consumers were on average spending 1 hour and 11 minutes per day on SVoD services in April 2020, which is 37 minutes higher than figures recorded in April 2019.
Google searches for digital marketing courses saw three-digit growth during lockdown
New data from SEMrush shows the number of global Google searches for the term ‘online digital marketing courses’ grew 110% (rounded) in the period February-July 2020 compared with numbers from August 2019-January 2020. The figure rises to 132% in the UK, suggesting a large proportion of the workforce in the sector were looking to improve their digital marketing skills over lockdown.
Queries for Google-run digital marketing courses (‘Google digital marketing course’) were particularly high in the UK compared with global averages, seeing 168% growth in the search term vs. 86% growth elsewhere. This could indicate UK marketers’ perception of Google as an expert authority and influence on the subject when matched against other training providers.
Demand for similar digital marketing courses was highest in Canada, Australia and the UK over this five-month period, while equivalent search queries in the US remained relatively low.
(See Econsultancy’s online digital marketing courses)
9% of marketers have been made redundant since the coronavirus outbreak began
Q3 research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has confirmed nine percent of global marketers have been made redundant since the coronavirus outbreak began, Campaign reports. One in five marketers have had to take a pay cut during the pandemic, while 17.5% were required to give up any annual leave, and a further 17% said they had been furloughed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
These figures, if expanded across the entirety of the marketing profession, suggest that 37,000 jobs could be lost and 83,000 pay cuts enforced overall as a result of Covid-19.
Despite uneasy times for marketers, a large percentage (87%) of them say that they feel confident that the sector will be able to bounce back once the pandemic has subsided. Brand reputation has become the highest priority for marketing employees during the outbreak, while promotions and discounts have settled at the bottom of the list, suggesting they have prepared long-term plans rather than fixating on short-term wins. Data from the CIM also found that marketers are focusing particularly on employee and public safety messaging across their campaigns as this becomes ever more important in the eyes of consumers.
Centre for Retail Research estimates 125,000 UK retail jobs have been lost in the first eight months of 2020
Amid economic uncertainty and wavering instore footfall, new data from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR), reported by The Guardian, estimates almost 125,000 UK retail jobs were lost in the first eight months of 2020. It is thought that struggling high street chains account for almost 93,000 of these job losses, some 43,000 of which are a direct result of firms like Debenhams, Monsoon and Cath Kidston falling into administration. So far, 7000 staff have been let go at M&S, 2,500 at Debenhams, 4,000 at Boots and 1,300 at John Lewis, among others.
Cutbacks at smaller businesses, which often have significantly reduced financial safety nets, comprise the remaining 32,000 of jobs lost, following an extended period of closure for non-essential stores during the height of the lockdown.
Other findings from The Guardian’s coverage indicate that the number of high street stores that are now empty is at its highest in six years, with city centres like London taking a particularly big hit as commuters stay home and visitor numbers dwindle.
As ecommerce still dominates retail sales – and high street footfall, while improving slightly, continues to perform much lower than average for the time of year – it remains to be seen whether the UK will see more job losses in this sector in the lead up to Christmas.
46% of UK marketers ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ worried for their jobs
Nearly half of UK marketers are worried for their jobs, according to a June survey conducted by YouGov. In a study of 1178 marketers, 16% said they were ‘very worried’ that they will lose their job as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, while an additional 30% said they were ‘fairly worried’. Just 15% of marketers claimed they were ‘not at all worried’ about their job security, compared to 27% of other workers.
These figures are significantly higher than those from the rest of Britain’s general working population, of whom 10% and 21% are ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ worried about their job security, respectively.
So far, one quarter of marketers have been placed on furlough for at least part of the pandemic. While some have since returned, there continues to be heightened concern about financial security from employees in this industry. Sixty-two percent fear that their personal finances will be severely affected, in contrast to 46% of those in other sectors, as the UK economic outlook remains uncertain. Meanwhile, they are also more worried about being able to keep up with mortgage repayments than the rest of the UK workforce (38% vs 30%).
Large numbers of business leaders from YouGov’s wider B2B survey admitted that they had cut the budgets of their marketing functions, with more than a third claiming these cuts were severe. As a result, marketers appear to have felt the impact of Covid-19 – or believe they will feel it in the near future – more than most.
Chinese economy grows by 3.2% in Q2 after record Q1 slump
China’s economy grew by 3.2% in the second quarter of this year, following a record slump of -6.8% in Q1, the BBC has stated. This bounce-back is sharper than experts originally predicted, as China begins to return to normal ahead of other regions still gripped by the coronavirus.
The ‘v-shaped recovery’ that China appears to be going through could be good news for other major markets which have yet to lift all restrictions and reboot their economies. However, despite Chinese production back in full swing, retail sales in the country still lag behind, with growth in the sector falling again in Q2.
Overall Chinese economic growth for H1 was measured at -1.6%, according to its National Bureau for Statistics.