Marketing in Times of Crisis
Predicting Consumer Behaviour with a Local Lockdown Dashboard

Read Time: 3 Minutes

By Russell Scott

It comes as a surprise to no-one that over the last six months, (as a direct impact of lockdown restrictions) we have seen colossal ramifications to both consumer behaviour and the retail industry. Whilst some sectors, such as travel and hospitality, were hard-hit and slow to recover, some verticals saw a mini boom in sales – as consumer demand shifted away from the highstreet and onto ecommerce.

If we hit rewind back to December 2019, UK ecommerce sales equated to approximately 20% of all of the retail sales that year (21.8%  if we’re being specific), and as of September 2020, this number has risen to 27.5% – meaning in the past nine months alone we’ve seen a staggering 5.7% increase in ecommerce sales. Lockdown restrictions left consumers unable to shop in-store, which in turn forced people to form new shopping habits that have since embedded themselves in the consumer psyche , rendering their old habits obsolete – even as restrictions were slackened.

What challenges are businesses facing?

After our somewhat brief return to “normality” in the summer months, we are now seeing an increase in city-level restrictions being re-imposed to deal with localised surges in Covid cases – a trend that is unlikely to waver. As we sit on the precipice of another unfamiliar quarter, we as marketers have to analyse what this will mean for the future of our digital marketing strategies. 

With varying rules being introduced to different areas of the country, we are seeing shifts in consumer behaviour regionally and keeping track of these consistent changes is proving to be a challenge for many. 

Although we aren’t expecting as dramatic an uplift in online performance metrics that we saw during the previous lockdown, there are early indications that for some verticals demand in areas of local restrictions is starting to increase at a faster pace than the rest of the UK. Businesses need to monitor the changes, analyse the shift in demand and adjust their digital strategy accordingly.

Preparing for success

We have created a tool that allows businesses to monitor the regional lockdown restrictions, and respectively tailor their strategy to reflect the subsequent changes in demand. 

Incubeta’s tool – Local Lockdown dashboard – uses a handy  LockDown Checker website’s API to check the status’ of the top 2000 postal code areas of the UK (by population size) on a daily basis, identifying which areas are currently under localised restrictions, which areas have recently had restrictions imposed and which areas are on the watch list. 

During these uncertain times, when businesses are unsure how best to adjust their strategy, this data enables you to action valuable optimisation tactics within your strategy such as:

  1. Keeping track of new towns and cities where restrictions have been imposed, and identifying areas under watchlist which are likely to have future restrictions imposed.
  2. Identifying factors such as if two households are permitted to mix and if non-essential shops and Fitness centres remain open.
  3. Integrating with paid media performance data, segmented by city & postal code, to understand what performance variance we are seeing in areas under additional restrictions compared to the rest of the UK.
  4. Automating optimisation actions based on daily updates of local restrictions such as:
    1. Adjusting geographical bidding strategies to reflect the impact of imposed restrictions on factors such as traffic, conversion rate and ROI
    2. Adapting creative messaging and extensions to reflect local level restrictions (e.g. removal of collect in store/location extensions if store opening restrictions are put in place)

Despite the challenges of another lockdown, and the variation in lockdown restrictions regionally, businesses can use this time to refine their marketing strategies, optimise their content and prepare themselves for the inevitable influx of consumer spending that accompanies Q4.