INBOX INSIGHTS, June 2, 2021: Google Search Console Introduction, Elastic Demand, Google Mobility Index

Google Search Console Introduction, Elastic Demand, Google Mobility Index

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Elastic and Inelastic Demand

One of the aspects of the pandemic that we don’t consider enough as marketers is whether our demand is elastic or inelastic. First, let’s define what this means. Elasticity in demand is changes in demand based on things like supply and availability, price, consumer tastes, income, and other factors that ultimately decide whether a consumer chooses to buy or not buy.

In classical macroeconomics, elasticity is often measured as demand vs. price; the higher you raise your prices, the fewer customers will buy your stuff (and the more they’ll go looking for competing, cheaper alternatives). However, price is only one dimension of elasticity. Right now, we’re facing an entirely different dimension: buyer availability.

The pandemic forced many, many lifestyle changes on us, and as the world rolls out vaccines, we’re starting to see buyers come back. Elastic demand is demand that snaps back; once people are vaccinated, demand for things like vacations and cruises will substantially increase for a period of time as people make good on deferred purchases.

That said, some demand is inelastic; it doesn’t change, doesn’t snap back. For example, if you’re a coffee shop and your customers stayed home for 6 months, they did not defer 6 months’ worth of coffee and they won’t come back to your shop to buy 180 coffees all at once. No, those who come back will resume buying their daily beverage; this is an example of inelastic demand.

As we vaccinate more of the world, demand for some things will indeed snap back. Demand for other things may not; some employees are demanding the ability to keep working from home. That may permanently impact commercial real estate as companies decide how much cost savings they can extract by reducing their physical workspace footprint.

The big question we have to ask ourselves? Is our demand elastic or inelastic, and by how much?

Pay careful attention to unbranded search in your category – that will be a strong indicator of demand elasticity in your space.

If your demand is inelastic, you must increase your marketing efforts to not only continue attracting new audiences, but recapture as much of your old audience as possible.

If your demand is elastic, you must increase your marketing efforts to capture as much of that pent-up demand as possible before competitors do or the demand fades. You’re competing against time itself, against the money customers saved in their wallets and budgets – and every competitor wants your share of the pie.

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Data Diaries - Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, we dig into some COVID-19 data. Google has been publishing mobility data about people’s behaviors during the pandemic, taking in massive amounts of smartphone data, anonymizing it, and producing summaries for regions around the world.

This data comes as a series of CSV files; with any decent data visualization software, we can dig in and understand what’s happening in our neck of the woods. Let’s take a look at a few series.

The United States of America:

The USA Pandemic Mobility Data

We see pretty much everything we’d expect – as the pandemic ramped up, people started spending more and more time in parks and outdoor places, while retail and transit became ghost towns. As of today, we see that almost everything is at or above the pre-pandemic baseline (the thick black horizontal line) except workplaces and offices – and that might be a trend that sticks, as some employees and employers don’t necessarily want to go back to costly commercial real estate.


Brazil Pandemic Mobility Data

In Brazil, we see somewhat opposit trends. Workplaces, groceries, and pharmacies have remained busy, near or above the baseline the entire pandemic, while retail, transit, and parks remain below baseline. Remember that the winter in Brazil is during June-August, whereas summer is November-February, so there’s definitely seasonality there. Despite much more lax restrictions, Brazilian citizens have not leaped to reopen too early.

We can even drill down to regions like states or metropolitan areas. Here’s Massachusetts, where Trust Insights is headquartered:

Massachusetts Pandemic Mobility Data

Even within a single nation, we see substantial regional behavioral differences. While the United States as a whole has opened up, citizens of Massachusetts haven’t embraced that and run back out to do everything they did prior to the pandemic. We still see most categories below baseline except grocery and retail.

What do we do with this data? What’s the takeaway? The COVID-19 pandemic has brought s new data sources we’re able to use to forecast business activity. Reopening data like this tells us the state of the economy and what consumers are doing; that in turn drives B2B businesses, as demand changes ripple up the supply chain. If your business has any dependencies on locality, check out the data for yourself and see where you are in terms of reopening and what to forecast for demand.

Methodology: Trust Insights used data from Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports. All definitions were provided by Google. The timeframe of the data is February 15, 2020 – June 1, 2021. The date of study is June 2, 2021. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors, and declares no competing interests.

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