How consumer behavior is impacting industries differently during COVID-19 [A Birdeye Study]

Ruchika Batra

4 min read Last Updated Jan 22, 2021

Impact of COVID-19 on different industries

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on the world economy. Some industries have been affected more than others, and changes in consumer behavior through these uncertain times have also had a huge impact on industry performance. We conducted an in-depth study to look at the performance of various industries during this pandemic and how recovery is shaping up as we turn the corner.

Study Background:

Today, most consumers start their search for information about products or services they need with an online search. Studies indicate that ‘peak of search traffic often precedes the sales peak’. Changes in web traffic can, therefore, be considered a reliable indicator of changing consumer preferences and by analogy – sales. 

The Birdeye research team put this learning into setting up a study to understand the impact of COVID-19 on various industries. The aim of this study is to understand changing consumer behavior trends so we can predict consumer preference and hence buying behavior during COVID-19 recovery.

Impact of COVID-19 On Local Business

Study Methodology:

Aside from being a popular customer experience software, Birdeye also has a very robust directory listing platform. This platform includes millions of business profiles from across key industries. We continuously monitor web-traffic trends on these Google-indexed profiles. The research team at Birdeye looked at month-over-month visitor traffic across all the industry-specific business profiles to observe changes in online search behavior to see how consumer preferences are changing. 

Here are the findings from the study:

  1. The impact of COVID-19 on various industries is not the same.
  2. While some industries were hit harder (eg Dental, Personal Care & Beauty) others saw much less of an no impact (eg. Home Services or Real Estate / Property Management).
  3. When shelter-in-place orders started being issued state after state the search behavior shifted to only those essential things that they simply couldn’t do without.
  4. With more people working from home as offices closed, home maintenance became a priority. The home services category actually saw an increase in online search during the high COVID-19 impact period (mid-March through the end of April).

The below graph shows how online search behavior changed during peak COVID-19 impact (mid-March to the end of April 2020) and then the recovery (May 2020).

COVID-19 search traffic changes

10 industries most impacted by COVID-19

Quarantine, lock-down, and shelter-in-place orders resulted in an overall business slowdown (or even shut down) starting mid-March 2020. Most governments permitted only select businesses to remain open. These businesses were deemed ‘essential’ for human sustenance (eg. grocery stores, auto repair, gas stations, etc) or those that were working to contain/manage COVID cases (eg. healthcare). 

The following 10 industries faced the highest impact of these measures.

Top 10 industries hardest hit by COVID-19

10 industries showing the fastest recovery from COVID-19

After a disastrous month and a half of businesses being closed, some states have started to loosen their restrictions in May. Looking at the online search numbers this month, some recovery is visible. But, just like how all industries were not impacted equally, their recovery is also inconsistent. 

Online search trends suggest that with the loosening of lock-down rules, people started searching online for things they consider essential for their living (eg. personal care & beauty, construction, wellness, real estate).    

Here are the top 10 industries that are seeing the fastest turnaround.

Top 10 industries recovering the fastest from COVID-19

We are in the midst of an economic downturn and no-doubt these are difficult times for businesses globally. It is predicted that it may take several years to bounce back from the impact of COVID-19. However, it is good to see that some industries are already seeing positive trends. Several other industries will need to look at how they do business and perhaps even re-invent to survive.  

We will be back with more on business recovery trends from our ongoing research. Watch this space for more. 

Birdeye is helping businesses through these challenging times to stay connected with their customers. Birdeye’s Interactions is designed to help businesses manage customer communication whether it is via live chat, chatbots, mass text messaging, textable landline, or emails from one unified platform.

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