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Quarantined Young Consumers Are Fueling Booms For These 6 Industries

YPulse is carefully monitoring COVID-19’s impact on young consumers and how brands can respond. We’ll be providing new data and insights for you weekly to cope with the crisis, including special reports, exclusive data on Coronavirus and the next generations, and actionable insights on what brands need to be doing now.

You can access everything here on our young consumers and COVID-19 hub.

While the crisis means financial uncertainty for many, some industries are actually getting a pandemic-related boost thanks to isolated young consumers…


Our COVID-19 data shows that 93% of 13-39-year-olds are being impacted by Coronavirus—and the majority are quarantined at home. As young adults implement social distancing into their daily lives, many of them are starting to settle into the “new norm” of quarantining and self-isolation.

Though the financial impacts of the pandemic are growing, seven in ten Gen Z and Millennials tell us that they feel like they need to stock up on food and supplies to survive the Coronavirus crisis. This stockpiling behavior has led to a run on some products—most obviously cleaning product companies like Clorox and Lysol, hand sanitizer brands, as well as toilet paper. All have seen a massive spike in sales leading, to a shortage in the supplies globally. Canned goods companies are of course also seeing an impact. Goya Foods has reported a dramatic increase in sales: black beans, pinto beans, and other canned products have spiked as much as 400%. In the last few weeks, they’ve had to deliver 24 million cans to retailers.

But these are far from the only industries seeing their sales skyrocket. As young consumers spend more time at home, they’re finding various ways to keep themselves occupied and entertained—and it’s absolutely impacting their spending. Gen Z and Millennials told us what they can’t survive quarantine without and our exclusive research on their COVID-19 purchases shows that they’re shifting their spending to the “essentials”—traditional and non—that they feel will get them through this trying time.

This behavior is leading to serious pandemic-related booms for brands across many industries. Here are some seeing products fly off real and digital shelves as young consumers try to stay fed, occupied, distracted, and comfortable through quarantine:

Video Games

According to a Verizon report, gaming has seen a 75% weekly increase since the beginning of March. Twitch saw a 10% surge in viewership, while online gaming platform Stream broke a new record when 20 million logged in at the same time over the weekend. During the same time, Nintendo and XBox experienced hours-long server outages due to user overload. Nintendo Switch consoles are selling out everywhere—and we wrote about how gamers can’t get enough of Switch’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which is already being projected as their most successful launch. Even mobile gaming has seen a 24% increase, according to a report from AdColony. Pokémon Go modified their format so users can play from home which led to a 67% jump in spending—and some developers are offering games at discounted prices or for free to encourage young gamers to stay indoors. YPulse’s State of Gaming research found that 73% of 13-36-year-olds were already playing video games weekly prior to the pandemic—and 45% tell us they are playing video games/mobile games MORE because of COVID-19.

Puzzles & Games

Not everyone is turning to streaming or video games while they’re self-isolating. Some young consumers are unplugging with old-fashioned jigsaw puzzles. Big companies like Amazon are selling out of puzzles, while Missouri-based Puzzle Warehouse has been backordering their sets. On a normal day, the Puzzle Warehouse sells 1,000 puzzles, but since the start of the pandemic—they have been selling 10,000 puzzles per day online. According to puzzle giant Ravensburger, their sales are up 370% in North America. YPulse’s Playtime research found that 37% of 13-39-year-olds were playing puzzles regularly before the pandemic even began, and our data also clearly shows that it’s given the category a boost: 60% of quarantined young consumers say they have or will buy leisure activity items (e.g. games, puzzles, coloring books) because of Coronavirus.

Flour & Yeast

Sure, premade bread is already in high demand as consumers stockpile goods, but a surprising trend that’s emerged from all of this: quarantine bread baking. Many young consumers are making their own—with many attempting bread baking for the first time to try something new, escape stress, and find comfort. And now flour and yeast are selling out. Flour companies like King Arthur are seeing a spike in sales and surges of messaging on social platforms—the company reported that March has been its busiest months. Eater reports that “bread” is trending on Google thanks to this baking boom. Many first-timers are documenting their bread-baking journeys on social media, and even finding friends along the way, with some forming communities.


Loungewear & Athleisure

Over half of employed young consumers tell YPulse that they have started working from home some or all of the time because of Coronavirus—and they’re looking for clothes that will maximize their comfort. BuzzFeed is even posting shoppable listicles of pajamas that can be worn on conference calls. Staying cozy has become a priority, and while the fashion retail industry is struggling to stay afloat during this time, athleisure might be the one category that could save it. According to a Cotton Inc. study, 60% of shoppers are wearing more casual apparel and activewear with 84% saying they have been looking for said they were primarily looking for comfortable clothes like activewear, sleepwear, and lounge apparel, and two fifths reporting that they have recently purchased these items. YPulse’s exclusive COVID-19 data shows that over a third of quarantined young consumers actually say they have or will buy clothes because of Coronavirus.


Even before bars were forced to close down, young consumers were doing a lot of their drinking from home. Now, they have to. People across the country are “stocking up on alcoholic beverages” due to the Coronavirus—and a third of quarantined 21-39-year-olds tell us that they have been drinking more because of Coronavirus. The industry is feeling the effects: according to a Nielson report, beer sales rose by 2.3%, spirits by 4.9%, and wine by 1.7% at liquor, grocery stores, and convenience stores during the first week of March compared to last year. Alcohol delivery service Drizly has seen a 500% increase in their product sales, and DTC wine club Winc has also seen a 578% increase in new member sign-ups on a weekly basis as well as a 49.6% increase in wine sales. Even sales for Corona Beer have gone up by 39%—it has become a hit during Zoom happy hours.

Hair Dye

With most hair salons closed, consumers are buying hair dye to take care of their beauty needs at home. Some hair colorists are even getting creative by hosting virtual consultations and sending hair dye kits to their customers in the mail. Much of this is leading consumers to order their own kits. According to hair care company Madison Reed, sales of their at-home hair coloring kits have soared 750% in recent days, while companies like Color Wow have been seeing their root cover-up products sell through the roof. According to Color Wow’s director, “because everyone is on Zoom meetings…if you’ve got dark hair and three or four streaks of white at the front, it’s like a beacon flashing—and with high definition cameras it’s scary.”