March 1, 2021

How NASA’s Perseverance Rover Is Impacting Consumer Behavior

By Pattern Data Science / Amazon, Ecommerce Trends

Few things inspire the human imagination quite like space exploration. Over the last year, millions of people all over the world watched as NASA returned human spaceflight to U.S. soil and landed an SUV-sized rover 300 million miles away on Mars to search for signs of ancient life.

But does all that interstellar ferver spark surges in shopping for space-related products to match the inspiration of the imagination?

At Pattern, we’re obsessed with contextualizing and understanding the market forces that impact consumer behavior. So, we decided to set our data science team on the case. They analyzed daily consumer demand levels for space-related products on Amazon from January 1, 2020 through February 20, 2021. Here’s what they found:

Breakthroughs in space can spark sudden surges in demand

Whether it was SpaceX successfully returning human spaceflight to U.S. soil, scientists discovering water on the moon’s sunlit surface, or “Percy” successfully navigating its “7 minutes of terror” to land on Mars’ Jezero crater, our team discovered that major breakthroughs in space exploration can have an outsized impact on the number of consumers shopping for space-related products (like space-themed books, clothing, or Legos) to channel their imagination.

And, no other space milestone had a greater outsized impact over the last 14 months than the arrival of Mars’ newest rover. The landing of Perseverance inspired:

  • A 142% increase over the rolling 12-month average in the number of consumers shopping for space-related products on Amazon.
  • A 33% increase over the previous high in the number of consumers shopping for space-related products on Amazon.

What about demand for NASA-themed products?

Unsurprisingly, peak fandom for NASA seems to coincide with major NASA successes. In fact, the same three milestones that inspired surges in consumer demand for space-themed products also inspired outsized increases in the number of shoppers hunting for NASA-themed products.

When it comes to NASA products, however, “Percy” didn’t have nearly the impact on consumer behavior as the first NASA human spaceflight from U.S. soil in nearly 10 years.

Everyone wants a rover

It’s not everyday that consumers go shopping for a rover, but you can bet Percy had something to do with a 135% increase in consumer demand over the rolling 12-month average on Feb. 18 for rovers on Amazon.

What about Mars-themed products?

NASA’s first Martian landing in nearly three years is almost certainly behind a recent spike in consumer demand for Mars-themed products. Demand for products related to the red planet was up 110% over the rolling 12-month average on February 18, 2021.

Don’t forget “Percy”

While demand for products connected to the term “perseverance” tends to be quite low, they went interstellar on February 18. The number of people shopping on Feb. 18 for products related to NASA’s newest rover were a whopping 4,832% higher than the rolling 12-month average.

A lesson for product designers and marketers

With so many future space exploration milestones in the works - like SpaceX’s first all-civilian spaceflight and NASA’s launch of the James Webb telescope - it might not be a bad idea to think about how you can tap into the excitement consumers are sure to feel once each new frontier is crossed. Who knows? If you play your cards right, future demand for your products may be out of this world.

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