Life During Quarantine 15: Consumer Trends During COVID

It all started with Toilet Paper! At least that’s the way I remember it! Daily life with grocery shopping has always be considered boring, mundane, and necessary. Then Covid-19 entered the world suddenly our focus shifted to toilet paper then cleaning products. I thought this week I would look at this trend.

When a friend sent me a picture of empty shelves in Vons’s in Coronado I began to be concerned.

If you bought a burger and a Corona beer you got a free roll. I did so for the novelty of it!

There was such a panic! In response, I went to a Walgreens and saw an 8 pack on sale and bought it. I live alone, it was more than enough. Dear friends would occasionally stop by (those few that I saw during COVID) and brought paper towels, wipes, gloves, and toilet paper, I was grateful! I started paying attention when I went to the store to grab just a roll. Most humorous: the local Chaldean Liquor store not only has liquor, but they also have firewood, ice cream, locally made tortillas, and toilet paper! I bought some just because! The local Burger joint STP had an STP Corona special. If you bought a burger and a Corona beer you got a free roll. I did so for the novelty of it! So, a few months later, we seem to have averted the crisis, though I sure do keep an eye out for shopping trends! I have investigated various places, and this is what I have found, hope you like it and do let me know if you have anything interesting to add.

“Before executives at consumer-goods giant Kimberly-Clark rushed to shut their offices on Friday the 13th of March, they convened for one last emergency meeting. Commuting home that final time, Arist Mastorides, president of family care for North America, stopped at his local Walmart, on the edge of Lake Winnebago in Neenah, Wis., to see the emergency firsthand. Mastorides oversees toilet paper brands like Cottonelle and Scott, but that evening he could find none of his own products. “A long gondola shelf that’s completely empty of bathroom and facial tissue, I never in my life thought I would ever see that,” he says. “That’s a very unsettling thing.”

Indeed, that week will be remembered for the Great Toilet Paper Panic of 2020. The previous day, March 12, TP sales had ballooned 734% compared with the same day the previous year, becoming the top-selling product at grocery stores by dollars spent, according to NCSolutions, which tracks consumer packaged goods (CPG). As shoppers prepared to hunker down at home indefinitely to avoid the coronavirus, they wiped Amazon, then supermarkets across America, clean of the bathroom basic. People might need as much as 40% more toilet paper at home for “occasions” (as the industry calls them) that would otherwise happen at workplaces, restaurants, or hotels. But they bought far more: Sales were up nearly 71% year over year in the nine weeks through May 2, according to Nielsen. They would have risen even higher—except that people can’t find enough toilet paper to buy. As it happens, toilet paper really does grow on trees—eucalyptus trees, mostly, in Brazil. Whereas in the U.S. and Canada trees take decades before they can be cut down, the sweetly mint-scented Brazilian trees reach 100 feet into the sky in just six or seven years, growing faster than corn. “That’s what makes them so low cost,” says Mark Wilde, a packaging and forest products analyst at BMO Capital Markets who is widely known as Dr. Paper.

The good news: Things are calming down, at least in the U.S., after a buying spree in mid-March. But it’s not yet clear when — if ever — buying habits will get back to normal. Why the short supply? One reason is that people were hoarding. Some were stockpiling in advance of city and state lockdown orders. It’s a common reaction in times of a crisis when consumers feel a need for control and security, says David Garfield, global leader of the consumer products practice at AlixPartners, a consulting firm.

“Coronavirus has dramatically changed our lives. But it has also changed little things in our everyday existence. Who would have thought only a few weeks ago that toilet paper would one day be trending on social media?” Said Sonoma Magazine and they had some other observations.” Getting dressed for work now means putting on a sweater on top of your pajamas. Putting on pants feels like an accomplishment. Parents are now grounded by their kids. You are hoarding instant noodles for the first time since college. Everyone went off their low-carb, no-pasta, no-bread diet. Your dog is no longer the only one who gets excited about seeing the delivery man/postman.

Consumer behaviors are settling into a new normal, as people everywhere learn to live with the reality of COVID-19 and as more countries reopen parts of their economies. Although the pandemic’s impact has varied across regions, five themes have become evident among consumers across the globe:

  • Shift to value and essentials
  • Flight to digital and omnichannel
  • Shock to loyalty
  • Health and “caring” economy
  • Homebody economy

The COVID-19 pandemic transformed how people pay, moving away from traditional methods, such as cash, Chip and/or PIN bank cards, and towards the rapid adoption of contactless payment via cards, phone apps or wearables. In this mini-report, A Breakthrough for Contactless Payments, you’ll explore the three key aspects of consumer payment in the New Normal, including:

  • The pandemic has accelerated contactless payment usage– Every country (and generation) surveyed reported an increase in consumers who have a contactless payment method, with the USA reporting the highest increase of 19% from pre-pandemic levels.
  • Consumers prefer contactless payment methods over traditional options – A total of 59% of global consumers prefer contactless payment over cash, Chip-/PIN-enabled or magnetic stripe cards (38% combined).
  • Contactless payment adoption will continue to grow– More than half of consumers surveyed indicate they are at least somewhat likely (including 34% certainly or very likely) to adopt a contactless payment method soon, either a card or a phone app. Only 8% say it is “not likely at all” that they will go contactless.

The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed nearly every aspect of the consumer experience, from what – and how – they purchase to the ways in which they respond to advertising. In this rapidly evolving environment, brands and marketers will need to balance the desire to reach consumers with being mindful of our New Normal lifestyles.

Times of crisis can be both threatening and liberating.

The prospect of a pandemic has been a well-known systemic risk for many years, but no one could have predicted the exact timing or nature of the current coronavirus crisis. That’s often the way with trends: the big shifts are well known; there are many weak signals, but it’s hard if not impossible to know exactly the timing and shape of the bell curve that most trends follow. Will they stay niche for one year? Three years? Or suddenly see accelerated mass adoption because of some external trigger? Times of crisis can be both threatening and liberating. Most of the executives we speak with are painfully aware of the gap between their oil tanker-sized organizations and their new, agile startup competitors. But cultural change is hard, without a big shock that means all the old ‘rules’ can be broken. Here are what trends have resulted!

  1. Virtual Experience Economy
  2. Shopstreaming (e-commerce and live streaming merge)
  3. Virtual Companions
  4. Ambient Wellness
  5. M2P (Mentor to Protégé relations)
  6. A- Commerce (use of AI to do your shopping and delivering)
  7. The burnout (from overwork and world crisis: organizations that can help will succeed)
  8. Open source solutions (those that collaborate do best)
  9. Assisted Development (being forced to learn life skills at home)
  10. Virtual status Symbols



Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
I took the less-traveled roads which led to many careers. Each of these contributed to my unique mix of expertise: science research, teaching, food, art, and textiles. Owning and operating my own businesses (a bakery, a gallery, and a consulting business) thrust me into the driver seat of learning many diverse roles from customer service to public relations and resulted in my unique management style. Participating in the creation of startups, working in design, and my own businesses and technology endeavors. My quest for knowledge and seeking out the best has turned me into a networking enthusiast. A lifelong passion for textiles and Persian rugs taught me an array of professional skills such as research, writing, and community events. Networking resulted in a multitude of business opportunities. My experiences include Management, Entrepreneurship, Sales, Design, Descriptive Writing, Business Strategy, Color, and Textiles. Every facet of my work and life comes together like pieces of a puzzle. I strive to be a phenomenal networker and problem solver who continues to learn and grow.

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE