The past two months have seen major life changes on the back of the coronavirus pandemic, and lockdowns and social-distancing measures have impacted consumer behaviour globally, with Egypt being no exception.
In an attempt to shed light on how the virus impacted daily lives in March and April, research was recently released by Kijamii, a Cairo-based agency specialising in social-media marketing. Using Internet search data, Kijamii helped to quantify trends that showed that during the lockdown people had moved around differently.
It showed that mobility trends for places like restaurants, cafés, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries and cinemas were critically down. Movement to grocery markets, food warehouses, farmers markets, drug stores and pharmacies were also down, albeit to a lesser extent, except for mid-March when movement was increased to pile up on essentials.
Kijamii’s research showed that YouTube searches for “at home” content had grown tremendously. “Users wanted to consume more content to help them workout, cook, and even meditate at home,” it said. Searching for “working from home tips” grew 800 per cent in the first three weeks of March in Egypt. There was 71 per cent growth in “how to” searches on YouTube.
Kijamii attributed these changes to the fact that most people no longer had the luxury of relying on businesses and services, so they were learning to do things for themselves. The searches included cooking, cleaning, and basic chores, in addition to indoor activities so that people could keep themselves entertained.
With individuals staying at home for work and looking for tips to do so, Kijamii showed that there was a 106 per cent month-on-month growth in searches for office chairs, study tables, and work stations, and a 31 per cent growth in searches for computers and accessories in March.
Overall Internet consumption of learning websites saw 376 per cent growth. The number of people surfing the Internet increased by 133 per cent, and peak time doubled to 15 hours daily, according to data for March and April.
Kijamii broke down spending during lockdown into three categories. It found that 60 per cent of consumer spending had remained unchanged and may even have increased. This included anything paid for by direct debt and certain necessities. “The spending for home insurance, for instance, will not go down. Spending on groceries will increase. These industries will not be hit by the pandemic,” the report said.
Part of the spending, 15 per cent, was considered delayed spending, or anything people will put off buying until the lockdown is over, such as furniture. “The outbreak will not stop people from buying something they want, but it will delay purchases until after the lockdown,” the report said.
The remaining 25 per cent is lost spending. This represents the amount consumers save by not going out every day and spending on things such as eating out and transportation.
Online shopping grew. Since mid-February, downloads for top ecommerce apps in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have increased by 80 per cent, the report said. However, purchases have shifted from discretionary goods such as clothing, make-up, perfumes and home décor to essential items such as household supplies, food and beverages, and home appliances.
In Egypt, content creation has massively increased since the lockdown began. There has been an increase in the number of content creators due to more interest in fast and creative video-making, especially on platforms such as TikTok.
According to the study, TikTok was the most downloaded non-game app worldwide for March 2020, with more than 115.2 million downloads, representing a 98.4 per cent increase over March last year.
By the end of March, TikTok was the number one ranked app in Egypt. Whatsapp remains in the top three, as people consider this platform to be a main communication tool. With university and school closures, student learning apps grew in popularity. Top games apps were replaced with video-conferencing, messaging, and video platforms in March, the report showed.
Among the trending apps, Kijamii showed a growing usage of applications such as My WE, an application for managing Telecom Egypt accounts. This was a result of individuals managing their mobile and home Internet online, it said.
Online streaming platforms such as Watch It continued to grow, and more people were using PUBG to keep themselves entertained, the report showed.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 7 May, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly