• Consumer Research
  • Understanding Consumers

Mobile's Role in Cold and Flu Season Shopping

Matt Kaplan
Content Strategist
6 min read
Posted on October 27, 2020

In the United States, the fall and winter months are peak times for the common cold and the flu. This year, however, the cold and flu season will look very different for two main reasons: 

The COVID-19 pandemic adds a distinct wrinkle to the 2020-2021 cold and flu season. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted, “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever.” 

How people stock up on their sickness essentials will invariably look a little different. Many Americans are far less likely to visit supermarkets, pharmacies, corner stores, etc. for necessities like cold medicine and tissues, instead preferring contactless options like online delivery. 

The ongoing pandemic may make a significant number of Americans hypervigilant about their health this cold and flu season, although how adults in the U.S. obtain their key cold and flu essentials will have to look differently with in-person shopping often an option to be avoided. 

But who specifically in the U.S. is turning to mobile and apps to buy their cold and flu season supplies? For a deeper dive on this audience, we looked at the people who recently visited physical CVS locations or who have engaged with the following brands on mobile: Aleve, HALLS cough drops, Kleenex, Tylenol and Vicks. 

Here’s what we uncovered. 

Cold and Flu Season Audience Demographic Analysis 

  • 58% of this audience is female. 
  • 23% are between 46 and 55 years old, while 17% 56 to 65 years old. An additional 17% are between the ages of 26 and 35. 
  • 44% is White, while 26% is Hispanic/Latinx and 22% is Black. 
  • 43% have annual incomes between $35,000 and $100,000. 

Top Mobile Brands for Cold and Flu Season Shoppers 

Some of the top apps owned and used by this audience include the apps from CVS, Target, GoodRx, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Dollar General, Kroger and Walmart – all places to obtain cold and flu season essentials. 

Interestingly, some of the most popular mobile websites visited by this cohort include many news sites like The Hill, Today, CBS Local and NBC News, to name a few. They also are interested in deals and bargains, as evidenced by the number of sessions on the mobile websites for Groupon, Wayfair and OfferUp.  

Understanding Mobile Shopping Habits Around Cold and Flu Season Essentials 

How will these consumers be buying tissues, medicine and other key cold and flu season items? According to our research, they’re not going directly to these brands to make these purchases. 

In July, just 31% of Americans we spoke to said they were even aware they could purchase products directly from these brands. Only 19% said they had browsed their mobile websites with a scant 3% saying they had completed a brand-direct purchase. 

Why aren’t these consumers going brand direct to make a sale? According to our research, 26% said the purchase process was difficult – the most commonly cited reply.  

But there is some hope on the horizon. When asked about their likelihood to make a brand-direct purchase in this space during the second half of 2020, 32% said they were likely to highly likely to shop in this manner. 

Cold and Flu Season Mobile Audiences 

Looking to reach these kinds of consumers in our in-app advertising campaigns coming up? Here are a few sample audience segments to consider utilizing: 

  • Pharmacy visitors: All users who have visited a pharmacy at least once in the past six months. 

  • Grocery delivery users: All users who have downloaded a grocery delivery app or visited a grocery delivery site over the past six months. 

  • Health and wellness users: Built using app and mobile web behavior, this segment covers users engaging with top fitness properties (relating to gyms, diets, workout plans, etc.) along with those who have visited a fitness center, gym or health club at least three times in the past six months. 

Interested in learning more about InMobi’s audiences and why they’re the best in the business? Reach out today to schedule a call

About the Author 

Matthew Kaplan has over a decade of digital marketing experience, working to support the content goals of the world’s biggest B2B and B2C brands. He is a passionate app user and evangelist, working to support diverse marketing campaigns across devices. 

Stay Up to Date

Register to our blog updates newsletter to receive the latest content in your inbox.