'Cosmopolitan' Study Reveals Millennial, Gen-Z Quarantine Trends

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Cosmopolitan EIC Jessica Pels and her team thought the moment right to check in with readers about how they were adjusting to quarantine, in addition to their expectations for the future.

“One of the most powerful things about Cosmo is, because of our data obsession and how quickly we can collect data, we have a really good lens through which to look at trends,” Pels told Publishers Daily.

Pels noted the brand collects insights day to day, giving it an edge when it comes to connecting with its audience.

Cosmo’s team decided to poll its readers about a range of topics related to the current pandemic. The data resulted in "The Cosmo Report," a compilation of reader feedback and insights aimed at driving Cosmo’s decision-making and giving its advertisers and partners a deeper view of the thinking behind the brand’s readership.

"There has been heightened interest in our data capabilities, as well as our ability to understand what best resonates with this demo, which has led to a lot of follow-up conversations,” said Nancy Berger, senior vice president-publishing director, Cosmopolitan/Women’s Health/Seventeen. “ 'The Cosmo Report' continues to reaffirm our position as the go-to source for GenNow."

The report found that 95% of Cosmo’s audience is social distancing, and 70% are more worried about unknowingly passing along the virus than getting sick themselves.

Among the brand’s mainly Gen-Z and millennial audience, 50% are sheltering at home with parents, with only 7% quarantining with roommates. Some 19% of respondents are quarantined alone.

Regarding college plans, 92% of Cosmo readers are not planning to drop out. They feel the cost isn’t worth the price if they are restricted to online classes and can’t have a campus experience. Pels predicts this will translate to gap years and transfers to less expensive schools, or those nearer their homes.

The report also tracked some of their spending and self-care habits. Many readers are predictably cutting their own hair and self-dyeing. In fact, Cosmo has experienced a 330% surge in nail-product shopping on its site.

Readers reported that in general, they’re doing a lot of shopping with Sunday being the busiest day.

Cosmo readers are additionally deeply interested in astrology, the report showed. Pels noted the brand has seen a huge spike in engagement across horoscope, with a 67% increase in readership.

As a result, Cosmo has launched some new strategies to help fuel that interest on Instagram.

“We had the idea to start experimenting with the “Close Friends” tool on Instagram as a new way to deliver content — we’re distributing exclusive astrology content to our die-hard astro fans as a sort of small-group secret club, and it’s led to great engagement: an 88% completion rate, which is much higher than the average completion rate for Stories,” said Pels.

In addition to its astrology push, Cosmo plans to increase its college content to address its readership's interest and needs.

Along with the work it’s put behind the report, Cosmo has seen an increase in audience across both print and digital, with print reporting a subscription increase of 27% from February to March, and a 24% increase in traffic to its site, year-over-year.

“It’s an amazing thing to see that people who need to connect can do it with a brand like ours. It’s made us all feel less alone,” said Pels. 

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