Audience InsightsIndustry Insights

Digital Impact of COVID-19 on the fashion and beauty industry

Mariel Ayar Médoc
  • By Mariel Ayar Médoc

Last month, Whispr Group launched a COVID-19 webinar series that will explore the impact of the pandemic on digital consumer behavior. Our first event analyzed search intent, online conversations, and paid content performance to derive actionable insights for the Fashion & Beauty industry.

Positive signs have started to emerge.

Mentions have declined nearly 20% over the last year across social media platforms –including Instagram, Twitter, blogs, and forums – while conversations about products and services viewed as more “essential” have remained flat (Travel) and even spiked (Food) in the wake of COVID-19.

Across key categories within the Fashion & Beauty verticals, online conversation volume

and consumer search interest have both fallen dramatically year-over-year.

Whispr Group Online Conversations Fashion & Beauty Insights

Steep decline in overall conversation volume & search interest

The YoY decline in Fashion & Beauty conversations has stabilized since mid-March. Much of this reversal is due to the Retail and Streetwear verticals, which have experienced +13% and +7% growth, respectively, in recent weeks.


Whispr Group Online Conversations Fashion & Beauty Insights - Search Trends

Lounge wear, pyjamas and skincare are bright spots

Global search interest in lounge wear has skyrocketed year-over-year, demonstrating monumental growth not tied to seasonal trends. Sweatpants have become the new uniform for consumers confined to their homes, and customers are engaging in far more social conversation about the best products to fulfil their shifting wardrobe needs.

Whispr Group Online Conversations Fashion & Beauty Insights - Search Trends Global

Consumers appreciate skill-Based PPE support most, not pledges/donations

Brands that proactively promote their support of essential employees (especially factory, delivery, and retail workers) generate enormous goodwill. But tangible actions tied to a brand’s core competencies are far more effective than monetary pledges.

For example, Christian Siriano’s proactive outreach to NY government officials offering to donate the services of his production staff in support of the effort to manufacture additional personal protective equipment – and his mission-based communication publicizing those efforts – established a powerful, authentic narrative tied to company voice, brand ethos, and commercial expertise.

Whispr Group Online Conversations Fashion & Beauty Insights - Online Conversations

Backlash against celebrities, but not influencers

Consumers still look to influencers for entertainment and distraction, but are hyper-sensitive to celebrity efforts to intervene in pandemic-related conversations. Influencers have encountered a much less pronounced backlash, but they must be careful not to feign expertise about COVID-19, or appear to be capitalizing on the pandemic for personal gain.

Whispr Group Online Conversations Fashion & Beauty Insights - Influencer Conversations Evolution

Key Takeaways

  • Consumer sentiment is changing rapidly, so it is critical to invest in market research, monitor the landscape closely, and seize opportunities as they arise.
  • Preserve your established brand identity on owned channels – but vary your messaging between information, normalcy, and humour.
  • Build brand-based communities, instead of encouraging a purely transactional relationship with consumers.
  • Consumers are increasingly focused on sustainability, so provide guidance about how your company is addressing manufacturing and packaging waste.

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