consumer stockpiling

Uncertainties over rising COVID numbers and potential lockdowns have consumers rushing back out again to stock up on essential supplies. Retailers are already placing limits on certain items such as disinfectant, soap and paper products; similar to measures put in place back in the spring to prevent hoarding. Whether we see another frenzied rush on toiletries or not, brands will do well to be savvy and use market intelligence to strategize ahead of consumer stockpiling.

We’ll explore that conversation here with a look at:

And here are a couple of facts you may want to keep in mind as new panic-buying possibilities arise.

  • Panic buying causes a bullwhip effect which undulates throughout a supply chain as sudden increases in demand without increases in speed of consumption create uncertainties throughout the chain.
  • Fear contagion” is hardwired into our mental fabric. It’s where rationality is placed on the back burner when we see all the other antelopes running away – or all the toilet paper disappearing off of the shelves. It’s our instinct to do what everyone else is doing.

With that, let’s take a step back in time to better understand where we are now.

Stockpiling State of Mind

Back in March, as fears of the coronavirus were making the rounds on the internet, consumers did a very curious thing – they bought toilet paper like it was going out of style. No one knew exactly what to expect if lockdowns were put in place. And disinfectants, masks, wipes and sanitizer flew off of the shelves. We all saw the pictures online of shopping carts filled and overflowing with toilet tissue.

No one really understood it at first, but people bought it anyway. The fear contagion had kicked in and people bought out as much of these supplies as they could based largely on one of humanity’s instinctual holdouts.

And the online conversation absolutely blew up over it in the second week of March.


In hindsight, the buying rush didn’t last super long but a deeper dive into the conversation reveals some of the immediate market effects. Grocery and liquor sales soared across the board while food banks, dairy farmers and the meat supply chain wobbled under the stress.


It’s doubtful that we’ll see a panic-buying spree of the magnitude that we saw back in March, but brands will want to keep tabs on the conversation nonetheless. After all, anything is possible in 2020.

The best part? The availability of historical data from March to prepare for another round of panic-buying is a beautiful thing. And used in tandem with your social media listening, your market intelligence will be rock solid no matter what transpires.

Quid Social & Other Market Intelligence Indicators

You already know the products that people were buying up early in the pandemic; and excessive movements in those markets today will be tell-tale signs of panic. Keeping an eye on social conversations linked to these items is a good idea for obvious reasons.

Likewise, market conversations that showed movement earlier in the year are indicators to look for as part of your ongoing social media listening. Our analysis of COVID panic buying over the last month revealed a couple topics, namely grocery stores and supply chains, that saw rapid impacts early on in March. They are already seeing an uptick in activity by mid-November and are worth keeping tabs on.


And one of the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse of potential market disruptions is to set up alerts based on the parameters you’re concerned about.

Do potential supply issues in pork production have you concerned? Set up your metrics and alert conditions in the NetBase product and rest assured that you’ll be the first to know when conversations move outside of your parameters.


There’s simply no faster way to get informed on real-time changes in the social conversation and fast-track your market strategy.

Social Media Monitoring All the Feels

As social creatures there’s a lot of emotions, feelings and nuance behind the sentiment expressed online. Luckily, next generation artificial intelligence (AI) has the power to parse those expressions and present them in a way that informs. It provides both depth and granularity that goes far beyond just getting the gist of online sentiment.

For instance, here’s a look in AI Studio at the social mood spectrum showing an array of emotions that are fueling the panic-buying conversation.


Emotions such as disgust and anger are to be expected in this conversation, but emotions such as amusement and joy are curious indeed. Exploring them reveals a variable exerting influence on panic-buying this go around that was not on the table back in March – Thanksgiving.


Conversations such as this one will definitely add a color to grocery store conversations that did not exist earlier this year. Should your market intelligence needs warrant further exploration, then great. If not, filter them out to set yourself up for conversational comparisons to historical data.

Additionally, your social media listening tools should pick up on all of the feelings when you’re exploring social sentiment. And we really do mean all – our next gen AI even picks up emojis too. Yes, even the toilet paper one.


Change has been the one constant for 2020 and brands wielding the full potential of AI in their social media listening are always a step ahead. Markets wax and wane based on the moods of consumers so it’s critical to build your strategies accordingly. Be sure to reach out for a demo and we’ll help you read the virtual room!

Premier social media analytics platform

Expand your social platform with LexisNexis news media

Power of social analytics for your entire team

Media analytics and market intelligence platform

Enrich your media analytics with social data

Media coverage for historical & real-time monitoring

Data streams & custom KPIs for advanced data science

AI, Image Analytics, Reporting Tools & more

Out-of-the-box integration with other data sources