Pulse deep dive: Springtime trends worth watching

Centricity Media

April 27 2021

Between volatile consumer demand, fleeting upstart trends, and a drastic shift in the collective American lifestyle, Retailers and CPG companies have been faced with immense challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The importance of forward-looking data has never been clearer, as companies struggle to get niche products in front of the right customers, all when demand is highest. 

With those issues in mind, we’re excited to share how we’ve used Centricity’s Pulse data over the last month to discover two compelling, granular, and — most importantly — forward-looking trends.

Men’s sneakers getting colorful in the south

With spring blooming and the vaccines rolling, Americans are warming to the idea of getting back out into the world as normal. A solid indicator of this trend is found in fashion, with interest in apparel surging over the last month. The return to normalcy, it appears, will happen in style.

Within men’s apparel, demand for footwear has dominated over the last month, showing the highest Pulse of any subcategory. 

Top Men’s Apparel subcategories

Among men’s shoes, sneakers have unsurprisingly been most in demand, so we took a look at the features driving such high Pulse behind more casual footwear. What we found were clear shifts in demand for various colors of sneakers. Recently, among the top seven sneakers colors, it seems that brighter is indeed better.

Increases in brighter colors in men’s sneakers over the last month

Around the end of March, blue, yellow, and orange all jumped in their share of total Pulse for men’s sneakers, while white and black decreased (and gray remained steady). This jump in Pulse, however, wasn’t evenly distributed throughout the country. By analyzing Centricity’s heatmaps, we found that various areas throughout the South accounted for a particular interest in these colorful sneakers. 

Clusters of Pulse for colorful men’s sneakers

After isolating for blue, yellow, and orange sneakers, Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta show a cluster of demand for these particular products throughout the South. While raw Pulse scores can be a helpful tool in pinpointing demand, they don’t always allow for narrowing in on niche demand in less populated areas. To account for this, we calculate Pulse per capita in counties with at least 10,000 residents (to avoid disproportionately weighting the lowest-population counties). 

Pulse per capita confirms demand for colorful men’s sneakers throughout the South

Albeit not an identical visualization, the Pulse per capita heatmap above confirms that colorful sneakers are indeed trending upward in the South, with hotspots in the Jackson, TN, Jackson, MS, and Macon, GA areas. 

The baking surge is here to stay

Over the last month, baking mixes have shown an increase in demand of nearly 4% nationwide. With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in full swing, this came as a bit of a surprise to our Pulse analysts. It’s felt as though the pandemic has widened the popularity of baking across the United States — we all know someone who has perfected their sourdough starter or chocolate chip cookie recipe over the last year — so we were curious to explore the sustained surge in demand for baking products, even as the virus continues to weaken its grip on American society. 

To do so, we took a dive into the specific products driving the consistent demand for baking mixes overall. In the process, we found a curious trend: Cookie mix usually dominates this category in overall Pulse (which continued this month), but even amidst the increase in overall demand for baking mixes, cookie mix saw its Pulse decline nearly 5% since mid-March. So, if not cookie mix, what’s really behind the spike in Pulse for baking mixes?

Top Baking Mixes over the last month.

As shown in the rightmost column of the table above, bread mix, frosting mix, and pudding mix have all seen significant growth since last month, whereas cake mix and cookie mix have both declined. Throughout April, the continued growth of baking mixes has been driven not by its usual suspects, but instead by its more fringe subcategories. 

Top subcategories of Baking Mixes by Pulse

When analyzed over time, these trends (above) show a huge Pulse spike for bread mix in mid-March before falling below other subcategories in early April. Frosting and pudding mixes, meanwhile, rose steadily in demand throughout that same period in early April. 

Top subcategories by share of Total Pulse

The decline of cookie mix is best visualized in the chart above, showing its share of total Pulse crater through the end of March. On the other hand, bread mix showed a weeklong spike in mid-March, while pudding and frosting mixes expanded their share until a peak in the beginning of April.

The mid-March spike for bread mix was of particular interest — so we investigated further, isolating the top three bread mix subsets over that period (buttermilk, chocolate chip, and cinnamon), then plotting them on a line graph for the month of March.

Top Bread Mix subsets by Pulse

Buttermilk bread mix experienced a huge Pulse surge in mid-March, accounting for the increase in share for bread mixes overall during that stretch. So we’re left wondering: Where did all this extra Pulse for buttermilk bread mix come from?

Seattle, Los Angeles, and Chicago hotspots for Buttermilk Bread Mix

The heatmap above shows that the main drivers of demand for buttermilk bread mix came from the Seattle, Los Angeles, and Chicago metro areas, with a significant drop off in Pulse elsewhere in the country. For the CPG companies producing these mixes and the Retailers stocking them, this Pulse data helps answer the questions of not only what’s in demand, but also how much to produce, where to distribute it, and when to get it there. 

How Centricity gets granular

Centricity’s Pulse data is the only metric in the world that measures consumer demand in real-time. From geolocated precision to insights at the product attribute level, Centricity allows Retailers and CPG companies to go deeper with their workflow solutions. Check in with the Centricity Blog throughout 2021 to see how we can help your company get smarter about demand planning, new product development, marketing campaigns, and more.