Search Is Top Channel For Consumers To Discover Brands During COVID-19

Some 20% of respondents to an Intent Lab survey found search ads were the best way to discover new brands during COVID-19. Nineteen percent cited offline word-of-mouth, while 18% cited discovery through social media ads, 15% through TV ads, 14% through social media mentions, 10% from digital ads on websites, 2% from radio and music streaming ads, 1% through magazines and newspapers, and 1% through out-of-home.

In 2015, Performics partnered with Northwestern University to find new ways to strengthen the perception of online marketing. The focus of the Shifts in Digital Food Shopping Behavior during COVID-19 study aims to show change. The digital satisfaction survey, a measurement of consumer attitudes, was conducted in October 2020. About 1,000 participated in the U.S. 

No doubt COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of food and grocery services and apps.

Not surprisingly, with the rise of online grocery shopping and food delivery, the top two brands discovered most since COVID-19 are Instacart, and Doordash.



About 77% of consumers said they are likely to continue using the brands they discovered. Beyond food and grocery delivery, general merchandisers benefited from the demand in contactless services. Amazon and Walmart topped this category. Starbucks took top honors in the restaurant category.

About 19% of survey respondents have switched to food and grocery delivery and pick-up services during COVID-19. Consumers who currently use these services tend to use them once per week. Still, 53% of survey respondents have never used these services.

Pre-pandemic, a small percentage of survey respondents were using alcoholic beverage delivery apps, at 10%; grocery apps, 12%; and food preparation subscription services, 11%. During the pandemic, alcoholic beverage delivery app usage surged 129%, while grocery delivery app usage rose 110% and food preparation subscription services rose 110%.

Restaurant and coffee shop apps, and online food review sites, which saw high pre-pandemic use -- 38% and 30%, respectively -- rose by 38% and 44% respectively during the pandemic.

Despite the increase in demand, consumers have major concerns when it comes to shopping online for food and delivery items. The top concerns are well known barriers of this category, such as

  • Lack of freshness
  • No free shipping
  • Returns
  • Unreliability of service
  • Hygiene of delivery and drop off
  • Difficulty in selecting the right options online
  • Late deliveries
  • Scheduling difficulties
  • Unfriendly websites

Younger consumers care more about fast delivery, while middle-aged consumers care mostly about deals and discounts, and older consumers care mostly about hygiene.

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