Facebook Reports New Consumer Behavior Trends Amid COVID-19

While this pandemic is far from over and the long-term effects are yet to be seen, COVID-19 has affected consumer behavior trends in significant ways in the short-term. Facebook has released a new 72-page report sharing insights on how the pandemic has affected the ways we consume media.


We’ve synthesized the report down and are sharing the five consumer shifts they report and what they mean for you heading into 2021.


01 – Content Economy:
More time at home has led to a heightened demand for content and an expansion of fanbases.


Media has taken on new meaning as consumers across the globe have adapted to new daily routines. Consumers have turned to digital content to tackle boredom, provide distraction, and escape from anxieties.  77% of global consumers say entertainment has been important for making it through sheltering in place, and these new digital habits are impacting behaviors offline.


James Smith, the Head of Industry for Entertainment in the US at Facebook, shares, “We’ve seen people create completely different routines due to the pandemic, which is creating exciting new opportunities to reach people where they are. People are on their devices engaging with brands in predominantly digital ways.”


Takeaway: As people build new routines and find comfort in familiar pieces of content, brands have opportunities to complement real-life activities to forge stronger connections. Consider how to deliver comforting and enjoyable content that can help ease fears and provide an escape. 


02 – Communal Consumption: 

People are replicating the social experience of live entertainment digitally.


As in-person socializing remains in flux, people are turning to digital spaces to connect with others safely. Media and entertainment have been a driving force in socializing digitally, with 47% of consumers saying they participate in communities around film, TV, and music.


Shannon Snow, the Head of Industry for Entertainment in the US at Facebook, shares, “Socializing has been a huge challenge for people through the pandemic, but they’ll continue seeking connections with friends, family and those with shared interests. People will want innovative forms of engagement that can recreate the IRL connection and conversation as best as possible— social media is a clear space for this to happen.”


Digital communities have become crucial vehicles for connection as shown in the chart below:

Takeaway: With consumers finding fewer opportunities to connect and socialize, brands need to work to instill the social element of entertainment into people’s lives. By creating digital communities businesses can create the context for social connection that consumers are missing. 


03 – Inclusive Diversity:  

Consumers are demanding better representation and more diversity in media and entertainment.


2020 has seen communities unite in the fight against social injustices, particularly through the Black Lives Matter movement. As a result, expectations for brands to address calls for diversity are front of mind and it is increasingly important for brands to build greater representation into the content they create as well as within the teams that create them.


Lizette Willams, Head of Global Vertical Solutions Marketing at Facebook, shares, “The Black Lives Matter movement has created cultural shifts in what we expect to see in entertainment and media. People are no longer satisfied with clichés, stereotypical representations, or stories that reflect the lived experiences of a small part of the population. People want to see themselves authentically represented in the content and products they consume, and this extends to all aspects of identity.”


70% of US adults say that they want to see more diversity and inclusion in digital ads and in a Facebook analysis, campaigns with more diverse representation were 90% more likely to be effective at driving ad recall compared to campaigns with single traditional representation. However, the way that diversity is represented can still misrepresent consumers and reinforce stereotypes. For example, characters who were people of color in the US were more than twice as likely as white characters to be shown working out or at sporting events in digital advertisements. 


Takeaway: Many people want to see more diversity and inclusion in the media, both in the content itself and in those who are creating it. For brands, there’s an opportunity to develop genuine partnerships that produce content that both entertains and educates. In this way, brands can help elevate voices from underrepresented communities.


04 – Proliferation of Choice: 

From content to services, people are navigating the sea of options with help from others and algorithms.


49% of global consumers report having difficultly remembering which content is available on which platform. Having too much choice has traditionally been a driver for consumer disengagement, but that trend is shifting as consumers engage with more content than ever before. 


For many consumers, they have embraced more platforms than before to seek out additional content. That means that your audience might not be on the same platforms where you have traditionally found them and that your content has more competition than ever before.


James Smith of Facebook shares, “The pandemic, and people’s reliance on media and

entertainment services to get them through it, has familiarized people with content at levels never seen before. This means standing out from the crowd is even more important. Communicating a platform’s services’ specific value is essential to winning new audiences and retaining current ones.”


Takeaway: As consumers increasingly adopt multiple platforms, brands need to find innovative ways of uniting people around their content and meeting them on the platforms they currently find themselves. 


05 – Streaming Sustainability:  

How community, communications, and content fuel streaming retention


The boom in streaming during the pandemic has caused services to compete for market share and attention. With live events turned into exclusive streamed content and a host of smaller companies creating niche streaming platforms retention, there are more players in this space than ever.

While having a bulk of content and choices might seem like a positive attribute, 44% of people globally say they stop browsing content on streaming services if they have to spend several minutes finding what to watch. Niche programming can help ease content discovery and increase retention.

Eric Peckham, host of the Monetizing Media newsletter and podcast shares, “There is an overwhelming number of options in every content category, so the way to stand out is to have something that’s compelling and differentiated. The worst place to be is a broadly focused platform with a little bit of content for everyone because then you don’t have that compelling an offer to anyone. There is only room for one or two broad platforms in any content market, and they are enormously capital intensive and already firmly established.”


Takeaway: As the pandemic ensues and consumers continue to cut out frivolous spending, streaming brands will have to work hard to both attract and retain users. Leaning on niche content, bundle flexibility, and personalized libraries will help establish these brands as reliable and desirable in consumers’ lives.



As we look into 2021 there is still much that is unknown. What we feel confident in however is consumers’ continued desire to seek comfort, connection, and escape in digital content. To create truly immersive, escapist experiences content creators will need to overcome production challenges imposed by the very pandemic driving their demand. If you need help strategizing dynamic content and video production amid COVID-19, get in touch with us. We would love to be part of shaping your success in the coming season.