Consumer behavior trends and insights impacting marketing

May 24, 2021 | By: Alan Moss, VP of Global Advertising Sales, Amazon Ads

Probably like many of you, my family and I spent a lot more time at home over the last year than ever before. We celebrated a few major milestones at home, like my mom’s 80th birthday and my kids’ high school and college graduations.

Alan Moss, with his mother and wife, celebrating his mother’s 80th birthday from home.

Because of the changes brought about by the pandemic, we’ve seen accelerated trends in consumer behavior across many categories, including shifts in the way people shop. This isn’t surprising, though. We know how disruptions work and we know how they impact the marketplace. They do so by clearing the way for trends that were already visible, or just under the surface.

Three trends that were accelerated in 2020 included online grocery shopping, cord-cutting, and the adoption of voice technology.

Adoption of online grocery shopping

In the grocery category, there’s been greater adoption of online orders. Whole Foods Market, as an example, saw online sales triple between March and December 2020 as compared to the same timeframe in 2019.1 In the last year, we’ve focused on bringing our grocery services to even more customers. For example, in September, Whole Foods Market opened its first-ever permanent online-only store in Brooklyn, New York. This new delivery-only store allows Whole Foods Market to serve even more customers and continue to meet the growing demand for grocery delivery in this area.

Whole Foods Market team member in the new online-only Whole Foods Market in Brooklyn.

Increase in streaming

For many of us, TV has been a much-needed escape. I, like many of you, have watched a lot of streaming television with my family lately. This increase in streaming isn’t just happening in my home, though. We’re seeing it across the country. Over the last five years, third-party studies have shown that cable households have decreased by 25%, which is equal to 24MM fewer households, while non-cable households have increased by 100%—an extra +28MM households.

And not only are there fewer households subscribing to cable; consumers are also watching less cable. And this is key—adults 18-24 years old are spending 62% less time watching linear TV, while adults 25-54 are spending half the time they used to in 2010.2

But there is good news for advertisers—this new generation of viewers has shifted from linear TV to streaming TV, and they aren’t looking back. In fact, over 90% of our Streaming TV ad-supported audience is streaming almost two hours of our video content every day. Streaming TV isn’t just an emerging way to reach audiences—it is the way to reach them.3

The rise of voice technology

More than three quarters of adults in the US (18+) said they experienced a change in their typical routine early in the pandemic, according to The Smart Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research. Among these changes, 36% of US adult smart speaker owners said they were using their device more to listen to music, while 35% said they were listening to more news and information.4

Over the past year, customers have used Alexa to make life a little easier. Many have leaned on Alexa to stay connected with family and friends, and stay entertained. For example, in the past year, Alexa customers across the world have made nearly three times the number of video calls than the year prior.5 Each week, customers interact with Alexa billions of times across the hundreds of millions of Alexa-enabled devices out there—including TVs, PCs, hearables, wearables, and other devices.6

In the past year, Alexa customers across the world have made nearly three times the number of video calls than the year.

The impact on advertisers

All these changes tell us that, over the past year, your job has become more complex, to say the least. For much of the last year, the digital purchase journey has occurred in the home. As advertisers, you’ve had to quickly react to the ever-changing world around us—swapping out creative and updating messaging to reflect what we’re all facing.

We know the success of your campaigns is directly tied to your ability to access the insights you need to understand your audiences, uncover new opportunities, and tailor your campaigns to meet your customers where they are. To help you do this, Amazon Ads will continue to double down on our first-party insights to help advertisers reach their desired audience with more confidence. For example, our lifestyle audiences can help advertisers connect with viewers based on streaming activities and shopping signals across Amazon, including apps and devices, as well as our newly added Twitch audiences.

With all of the recent changes in consumer behavior, you need to be able to reach audiences throughout their daily lives, whether they are watching streaming television, listening to their favorite music or podcast, or waiting for that much anticipated package on their doorstep. With plans to increase our audio supply and launch audio ads within podcasts, we want to help advertisers reach a broader audience and immerse their brand in premium audio content. Plus, we’ve introduced actionable video ads to allow viewers to interact with brands using their remote control and voice.

Cross-media measurement and transparency is a known challenge for marketers. Advertisers want to know what’s working across each stage of the customer journey to understand how their media performs across different channels like search, display, video/streaming TV, and audio and faster insights to action on. To that end, we are making investments in our measurement solutions, especially with Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC), to help you better measure and optimize your campaigns beyond ROAS (return on ad spend). With AMC, advertisers will have a holistic measurement solution—built on Amazon Web Services—in which they can analyze Amazon DSP and sponsored ads datasets and generate aggregated, actionable insights.

Innovating on behalf of advertisers

The last year has certainly challenged us. And with challenge often comes change. We’ve seen these changes in a number of areas, including retail. But despite these challenges, we’re inspired by the incredible tenacity and invention from our advertising customers and the agencies and partners we work with.

At Amazon Ads, we’re continually reinventing how we think about advertising to create experiences that add value at every touch point along the customer journey, including now as more of the customer journey is happening from home.

Alan Moss is Vice President of Global Advertising Sales at Amazon Ads, where he focuses on helping businesses around the world engage customers and build their brands. Prior to Amazon Ads, Alan spent 13 years at Google, where he most recently served as Vice President of Professional Services, supporting advertisers and publishers globally.


1 Amazon internal, May 2021,
2 eMarketer, Feb 2020 and Video Advertising Convergence Report, Q4 2019
3 Amazon internal, 2020, Comscore State of OTT, 2020, Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019