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Hand sanitizer and face masks: A look at how COVID-19 is affecting purchasing behavior

With consumers panic-buying and stocking up (also known as hamsterkauf in German), today’s grocery store looks extremely different from what they were just a few months ago.

Shelves are empty, people have forgotten that bidets exist and are buying all the toilet paper they can carry, there’s no hand sanitizer or alcohol to be found, and there are face masks selling for more than $700 on eBay.

It’s clear that COVID-19, the new coronavirus that has caused a pandemic, is affecting buyer behavior. We took a look at the top Amazon searches to see exactly what types of material have been most impacted.


To evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on Amazon demand, we examined searches on Amazon as coronavirus stock-ups surged and before the marketplace started to limit shipping options.

We compared the terms in the top-100 Amazon searches compared to terms found in a broader sample of searches.

By normalizing the top searched terms by broader search volume we can identify the terms that experienced an outsized surge in interest to COVID-19 vs general engagement.

We have broken these search terms into 3 categories:

  1. Surging demand – These are items seeing a large spike relative to normal search frequency.
  2. Sustained demand – These are items that maintain high search frequency in top searches and are generally highly sought after.
  3. Lowered demand – These are items that are broadly looked for but are relatively less present in the top searches.

Surging demand

Several health and wellness related products have unsurprisingly shown a spike in recent interest:

  • Cleaning items (wipes, Lysol, spray, antibacterial, disinfectant)
  • Face masks (face, mask, N95)
  • Personal hygiene & health (hand, sanitizer, alcohol, Purell, medical, respirator)

For many of these categories, merchants may be able to send inbounds for free. For more information, please email your Deliverr account manager.

Sustained demand

Several products have continued to show consistent high-demand even as consumer behavior has dramatically increased around certain products.

Many of these products appear to demonstrate consistent interest in certain tech products independent of challenging circumstances: (iphone, case, earbuds, bluetooth, watch, airpods)

Lowered demand

These are generally well searched terms that are in relatively lower demand compared to certain surging products. Although there is still search volume, these terms appear far less frequently than should be expected.

  • Clothing (dresses, shoes, tops, shirts, men, women)
  • Home essentials (table, wall, bag, light)
  • Toys (toys, kids, baby)
  • Travel (travel, size, set, car)

What to do with this information

Learning about the ebb and flow of buyer purchasing habits will help you plan out your inventory and stock up accordingly. It could be time to shift the slow-moving stocks to different storage or fulfillment options, and bump up the items you have that are in high demand.

Here are a few ways to move the needle for high-demand and medium-demand items;

  • Add fast shipping tags, such as Walmart 2-day delivery and Wish Express shipping
  • Use marketplace ads for keywords like “hand sanitizer” or “face mask” (tip: the top few search results for “face mask” on eBay are still the moisturizing ones – there’s an opportunity there)
  • If you sell on your own Shopify store, use Google Shopping ads to show your in-demand items directly in search results

We hope you take this trying time in stride, and that your business and employees come out stable and strong.

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