Affiliate Marketing During Covid Times – Winners and Losers

by Amy Harrin

During the pandemic there have been clear cut winners and losers in the affiliate space. The good news is if you are in health+wellness, fitness, home décor, or beauty+grooming, you are making out like a bandit since most hair salons, barbers, nail salons, and gyms have been closed in much of country on and off since mid-March.

The once booming travel and live entertainment sectors have suffered the greatest loss, and a full recovery is nowhere in sight. Travel was one of the most lucrative affiliate marketing niches for years, and many publishers content and SEO were created strictly for promoting airlines, hotels, car rental and related travel services and deals.

The majority of travel brands paused their affiliate programs back in April, and many have cut commissions or not resumed at all since Covid.  E-mails like this one below from the Marriott Affiliate Program were coming in like crazy by early April.

Marriott’s affiliate program pause notice to Affiliates

So what is happening?

Everyone is stuck at home, our regular work clothes just aren’t cutting it, needless to say athleisure and pajamas are on trend. We can’t go to the gym, and so home fitness equipment and wellness products are a way for us to all keep fit and healthy while at home. With salons and barber shops closed in many places in the country, even in now in August 2020, grooming at home has become a necessity rather than a luxury.  I learned how to take my gel nails off myself since salons in LA were closed from mid-March to June only to close again a few weeks later with the uptick in cases in California.

Now is a great time to decorate and spruce up our homes since we are in them so much. People are taking up new hobbies such as baking and sewing. Parents have become teachers now, and all of the supplies that are needed to work from home and teach means office supplies are in demand at record setting levels.

According to ShopStyle, a leading sub affiliate network whose 20,000 influencers are the pulse of what is going on in the fields of beauty and fashion. Sales in these categories have skyrocketed during the pandemic:

  • Kitchen+Dining: Up 208%
  • Home Décor: Up 148%
  • Skincare: Up 134%
  • Makeup: Up 85%
  • Haircare: Up 66%
  • Athleisure: Up 60%

Commission Junction/CJ the largest affiliate network offers ongoing Covid related affiliate marketing updates, and shared the following sales trends in June 2020:

  • Home improvement COVID-19 trends (from Bing) 
    • Click volume is up 51% in the home improvement category from pre Covid and KPIs are improving for home improvement.
    • Home improvement categories seeing Bing Audience Network growth include swimming pool services, home security, and HVAC
  • Auto consumer sentiment (from Bing)
    • Shoppers are modifying their searches for new and used vehicles to address the current COVID-19 crisis. 
    • Overall searches for new vehicles are down by -3% for the current 30-day period (compared to prior 30-day period), with used vehicles outperforming w/ +12% growth
Commission Junction’s Covid Network-Consumer-Trends-Teport

Commission Junction/CJ also published network-wide data and sector-specific analysis to provide visibility into recent consumer behavior (graphic above).

According to CJ’s network data, Financial Services, Business, Art/Photo/Music category merchants have seen north of a 100% increase in YoY sales. Computer Electronics and Family about 75% YoY. Sports+Fitness, Home+Garden, and Beauty about 50% YoY.

Big Losers include Travel which was down a 68%, as well as Entertainment-Live Events down a whopping 98%. Automotive was down 2%.

The CJ full report can be seen HERE.




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