Analysis: America’s Love Affair With Donuts (& Other Junk Food)

The first Friday of June marks National Doughnut Day, which was started by the Salvation Army way back in 1938 to raise money during the Great Depression while also honoring members who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.

With National Doughnut Day right around the corner, we thought this would be a perfect time to dive into online demand data for junk food: Does National Doughnut Day drive online demand for donuts like it does for brick and mortar locations? Did COVID-19 drive a spike in demand for salty and sugary snacks? And if so, is online junk food demand still high now that things are starting to open back up?

Our data science team analyzed market demand for junk food from 2019 through 2021 so far to find out the answer to these questions and more.

When is online demand highest for donuts?

Let’s start with a quick look at the daily demand for Donuts for every day last year:

Online demand for donuts was remarkably consistent throughout 2020. April 28th was the largest single-day for donut demand, while the day before St. Patrick’s Day (which was right around when COVID lockdowns began) was the second largest. Several of the biggest days of the year were all in the days immediately following initial COVID lockdowns, suggesting they drove a modest increase in demand.

National Donut Day, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to really move the needle for online demand for donuts, suggesting the holiday drives far more business to local bakeries and donut shops than widespread online demand.

While demand for donuts is remarkably steady, we suspected that wasn’t necessarily the case for most other types of junk food. So we dug deeper into the data by comparing relative change in weekly demand for different types of junk food:

This chart shows how much total demand increased or decreased compared to the average week throughout the year for each major category of junk food.

As you can see, demand for most types of junk food started last year below average. As millions of Americans start the year out with well-intentioned new year's resolutions, demand for chips, candy, soda, cookies, and desserts were all well below annual average.

Unsurprisingly, desserts, cookies, and candy all received a substantial bump during Valentine’s Day. In mid-March, as the pandemic began to spread and people began sheltering in place, demand for all types of junk food shot up.

Demand for chips nearly doubled the annual average during the week of March 15th, easily the largest immediate surge in our analysis. Demand for candy experienced the second largest peak, but somewhat later, during the week of March 29th.

After clearing out virtual (and physical) shelves early in the pandemic, demand stabilized by early summertime before peaking dramatically during the holidays. Demand for desserts peaked at a massive 208% increase during the week of Christmas. Demand for candy and cookies also peaked during that week, while demand for soda and donuts remained stable. Demand for chips, meanwhile, hit their annual low during the holiday season.

To underscore just how much the pandemic affected online demand for certain types of junk food, let’s examine total daily demand for chips, as they were the category that appeared to receive the largest COVID bump.

Demand for chips skyrocketed overnight as Americans prepared to shelter in place, hitting its apex on March 16th. Again, demand remained solidly high the rest of the year before dropping during the holidays.

2020 was obviously a rather unique year, so we next wanted to better understand how COVID-19 may have changed demand for junk food.

How did COVID-19 impact online demand for junk food?

In the previous section we saw demand spike in the earliest weeks of the pandemic, but for a clearer view on the long-term impact, we next compared demand in 2020 to demand in 2019.

2020 started out as a strong year for online snack sales. Demand was up for each category in January 2020 than in January 2019, with chips experiencing the strongest start to the year.

As the previous section suggested, and this chart reinforces, COVID-19 began to have a tremendous impact on demand in March. Demand skyrocketed for several types of snack foods, with demand for chips increasing by an astounding 204% year-over-year last March.

Demand for cookies also peaked in March, with a 149% increase over 2019, and demand for soda and candy nearly doubled.

Demand remained extremely high in April, although most categories saw year-over-year increases fall to slightly less dramatic levels. Demand for soda, interestingly, hit its year-over-year peak in April, likely driven by the in-store shortages the country was experiencing at the time.

Desserts also experienced a larger boost in April than in March, perhaps due in part to Americans turning to online shopping to supply their socially-distant Easter celebrations.

Year-over-year demand fell over the summer and fall for each of our categories, but still remained well ahead of 2019s figures. So despite an initial surge, it’s clear that 2020 remained an unusually strong year for online junk food sales.

Interestingly, donuts saw far more modest year-over-year increases, with demand in October actually falling behind 2019. It could be that donuts weren’t really people’s junk food of choice last year, or perhaps most were simply more willing to mask up for a visit to their local bakery when they had a craving for fresh donuts.

Is online demand still high for junk food in 2021?

It’s clear that 2020 brought a surge in online demand for all sorts of junk food, and that demand appeared to linger throughout the entire year. But have those trends continued this year? Is online demand for snack food falling as things begin to reopen? Or are we doing more stress eating than ever?

Let’s take a month-by-month view of total demand for 2019, 2020, and 2021 so far to see how things have looked so far. We’ll examine each category in a separate chart, starting first with chips:

Online demand for chips in January and February of this year outpaced the same months in 2020, but March saw demand both slightly from February’s total and far behind March 2020’s high-point.

Cookies have seen an even more dramatic example of the same trend:

As with chips, cookies started the year with a strong January and February, but this time the drop in March was even more dramatic. Demand also dropped from February to March in 2019, so this could also simply be the return to a typical seasonal trend.

Examining this view for soda, however, provides more evidence that online demand for junk food may be slowing somewhat. Once again, demand dipped somewhat from Feburary to March, and again from March to April.

Demand for desserts is also following a similar trend:

It’s still early in the year, but between these categories, there’s some evidence that online demand for junk food may be slowing somewhat as the pandemic begins to slow and things begin to reopen.

One category that didn’t see a decline from February to March was candy:

Demand for candy rose by 37% from February to March to hit its highest point of any month in our analysis. This is likely due to the combined impact of St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, which fell on April 5th but likely increased demand for candy in late March (a theory reinforced by demand dropping precipitously in April).

Overall, it appears online demand for junk food is softening. Whether this is due to a combination of more people returning to shopping at brick and mortar locations, or if people are simply looking to eat healthier as the world begins to reopen — your guess is as good as ours. Either way, we’ll be keeping an eye on these and similar trends in the weeks and months ahead.

A lesson for brands

Our data shows that COVID-19 has had a major impact on online demand for snacks and junk food, impacting some types far more than others.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, we may continue to see online demand for junk food decline as more people begin to go out to get a sweet snack or some baked goods. However, we might also see demand stay high as people have grown more accustomed to buying snacks online when looking to eat their feelings.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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Amazon's Sponsored Product ads
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What Are Amazon’s Advertising Products? Sponsored Product, Brand, & Display Ads

What Are Amazon’s Advertising Products? Sponsored Product, Brand, & Display Ads

Utilizing Amazon sponsored ads can be a smart way for a brand to drive greater traffic to a product listing and start increasing sales. While many brands still struggle to manage their advertising strategies, 30% of Amazon brand sellers increased their advertising budgets in 2022. As ecommerce executives (or even on the nose with VPs of ecommerce?)  approve their 2023 advertising budgets, it may be worth it to take a look at Amazon’s advertising products and the benefit they may have on increasing conversions. 

​​Pattern is the premier ecommerce accelerator with all of the expertise, data-driven insights, and technology brands need to gain control on Amazon and maintain their competitive niche. We know the high value of and how to utilize Amazon’s advertising products to drive the most traffic and conversions to benefit and accelerate your brand.

Here are Amazon’s three main advertising products you should know about in order to drive listing traffic to your products and increase conversions: 

For a brand executive who is selling their product on Amazon, you may not already know the differences between campaign type, so we will walk you through the differences and uses for each of these three ad campaigns.

Sponsored Product Ads

Sponsored Products are a mid-funnel advertising strategy that gives visibility to products above the top organic listings (see example below). This strategy uses custom keywords to get products in front of the consumers who are searching for them, however it can be used to capture new audiences as well.These cost-per-click (CPC) ads require no additional copy or images, but usually receive the most interaction of the campaigns and need to be monitored closely.

As you can see, these ads look just like an organic listing, however they say, “Sponsored,” on them. These types of ads can be especially effective forms of advertising because they tend to blend in with the organic results around them. With Sponsored Products, you can get your products in front of qualified customers who are searching for your product in such a way that doesn’t make them feel like they are being served an advertisement.

Sponsored Brand Ads

Sponsored Brand Ads are a top-of-funnel brand awareness tool and function on keywords. This ad format helps show a customer what they may be in need of and where to get it.  Commonly used to promote product lines or best sellers, a Sponsored Brand ad shows up as a banner above the search results (see example below). This type of ad requires that the brand showcase at least three separate products.

Unlike other campaigns used on the Amazon platform, Sponsored Brand ads require ad copy and a unique logo. These ads also can take customers to a custom landing page, or a page on the brand store, that way they get a clear and overall picture about who your brand is, what other products you sell, and why they can trust your brand

Sponsored Display Ads

Sponsored Display ads can be a tactic for top, middle, or bottom of the advertising funnel due to its varying targeting abilities. Although most commonly found under the bullet points of a detail page, these ads can also show in emails, newsletters, and even more locations off platform.

Unlike the previous ad campaigns discussed, sponsored display ads can target shopping behaviors, like repeat purchasers, similar product purchasers, and even people who viewed the detail page but did not buy. Sponsored Display ads help customers discover your brand, drive awareness, and create loyalty. 

The example above shows just one of the many placements Sponsored Display has.

Accelerate Your Sponsored Products With Pattern 

Rather than competing with each other, each of the three sponsored ad products focus on a different section of the sales funnel, allowing you to target your customers and hit your sales numbers, all while edging out possible competitors. When brands use these advertising campaigns, they can better optimize their ad budget to improve ROAS and build revenue. 

At Pattern, we have all the resources to help your brand build successful advertising and digital marketing campaigns on Amazon so you can increase traffic and conversions, which will in turn increase your revenue

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022
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Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)

Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Peak with Google Ads
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Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Peak with Google Ads

Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.

1. Go Early

In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.

From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.

2. Get Ready for Privacy Changes

 According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.

From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.

It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.

3. Ensure Consumers Can Discover your Brand

A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.

Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.

The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)

4. Get Moving with Performance Max

Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.

Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.

5. Flight Budgets Accordingly

Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.

Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.