Lucy Sinclair is the EMEA director of the insights team at Google, where she and her team analyse changes in consumer behaviour. In this regularly updated article she’ll be highlighting what is on people’s minds during this unprecedented time.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt by everyone around the world. And as consumer needs and behaviours have changed, this poses new challenges to marketers. We’re regularly sharing the latest EMEA search insights from Google Trends to help you understand what is important to your customers, so you can continue to be helpful and relevant during this unprecedented time. You can also use Google Trends yourself to explore changing search interests to view a more instant analysis.
As people are adjusting to the current situation and trends are starting to become more consistent, we are focusing our analyses on the macro shifts in consumer behaviour — to understand what the long-term impact might be in a post-lockdown world.
The five key themes we cover within these are:
- What people know: Seeking timely and accurate information from trusted sources
- How people make a living: Changes to work and finances
- How people feel: Wellbeing, connection, and community
- How people learn: Formal and informal education for children and adults
- What people do: Spending time and money in new ways
The Google Trends insights highlighted in this edition show that as lockdown rules are easing in some countries in EMEA, there has been an increasing search interest for ‘when’ schools and stores will reopen. And, while the ‘near me’ trend took a dip for several weeks throughout the lockdown, it is now heading up towards pre-lockdown levels as consumers are looking for services close to home. That isn’t to say that all trends are going back to normal, there continues to be increased search interest for financial aid, staying virtually connected, and online learning, as consumers are continuing to adjust to their new situation.
1. What people know: Increasing searches for ‘when’ stores and schools will reopen
The road out of lockdown is at different stages across EMEA. Stores and schools are reopening in Germany and the Netherlands, whereas in the U.K. and the MENA region, there is still uncertainty over when the government will adjust lockdown measures in a similar fashion. As consumers want to stay on top of the latest global and local developments, they turn to Search to confirm dos and don'ts and to find the latest regulations. There has been particular search interest in the last few weeks for ‘when’ as people researched when local businesses and schools will reopen.
People in the U.K. increasingly searched for ‘when can I see my family’ ('when can I see my family'), in Germany for ‘when will gyms reopen’ (‘wann öffnen fitnessstudios wieder’) and ‘nail studios open again’ (‘nagelstudios öffnen’), in Spain for ‘when will ____ open’ (‘cuando abren’) and ‘dentist open’ ('abren los dentistas'), in Poland for ‘open kindergarten’ ('otwarte przedszkola'), in Saudi Arabia for ‘bank opening hours’ ('دوام البنوك'), in France for ‘opening of’ (‘ouverture des’), in United Arab Emirates for ‘restaurants open’, and in Italy for ‘hairdressers opening’ ('apertura parrucchieri'). Specifically in MENA, people are searching for “mosques open” (‘فتح المساجد’) during Ramadan.
Additionally, people are using search to find health-related information, with consumers in Nigeria increasingly looking for ‘Centre for Disease Control update’ ('ncdc update').
2. How people make a living: Financial security still front of mind for consumers
In our last few analyses we highlighted that the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant financial impact on many people and businesses — and that financial security was top of mind for consumers. This consumer trend hasn’t changed in recent weeks, as financial relief programmes and new employment opportunities remain highly searched for, as seen on Google Trends.
‘Unemployment insurance fund’ ('unemployment insurance fund') and ‘distress grant’ (‘distress grant’) saw an increased search interest in South Africa, ‘job vacancy’ ('ledig stilling') and ‘how to write a CV’ (‘hur skriver man ett cv’) in Sweden, ‘emergency income’ ('reddito di emergenza') in Italy, ‘short-term work’ (‘kısa çalışma’) in Turkey, ‘work contracts’ (‘work contracts’) in Spain, ‘back to work’ ('back to work’) and ‘social care jobs’ ('social care jobs') in the U.K., and ‘salary payment’ (‘صرف رواتب’) in Saudi Arabia.
We did also see a shift to a more optimistic financial outlook for the future, as search interest for house hunting is beginning to restart in some countries across EMEA. In the United Arab Emirates searches for ‘property finder’ (‘property finder’) increased, and in Italy for ‘apartments for rent’ ('appartamenti in affitto').
3. How people feel: A focus on well-being and staying virtually connected
With continued uncertainty over the developing situation and the added worry about the financial impact of the pandemic, it’s understandable that consumers are prioritising their mental and physical health. Whether it’s exploring ways to stay physically fit, or more carefully considering their food intake, Google Trends shows that people across EMEA are more consciously focusing on their well-being.
In Russia search interest increased for ‘mental health’ (‘mental health’), in Denmark for ‘body mass index’ ('body mass index'), in Spain for ‘virtual gym’ ('virtual gym) and ‘steps and calories’ (‘pasos y calorias’), in Turkey for ‘vitamin D’ ('d vitamini'), ‘benefits of walking before’ ( ‘فوائد المشي قبل’) in Saudi Arabia, and in Poland for ‘DASH diet’ ('dieta dash').
In recent weeks there has also been a trend towards creating online communities, as people find new, virtual ways to stay entertained and connected to friends, family members, and co-workers.
‘Virtual pub quiz’ ('virtual pub quiz') and ‘virtual escape room’ ('virtual escape room') both saw an increase in search interest in the U.K., while in the United Arab Emirates people searched more for ‘house tour’ (‘house tour’), and in France there was increasing interest in ‘mukbang’, an online broadcast in which a host consumes food while interacting with an audience.
4. How people learn: Increasing YouTube watch time for ‘step by step’ and ‘for beginners’
As people spend most of their time at home, there is an increased appetite to learn new skills through online video tutorials. Global YouTube data1 shows that watch time for lectures on ‘spoken languages’ has increased by over 500% year-on-year, how-to videos ‘for beginners’ or with ‘step by step’ in the title increased more than 65% over the same time period, while watch time for how-to videos with ‘at home’ in the title increased by over 50%, and watch time for ‘guitar videos’ tutorials increased by more than 40%.
Additionally, Google Trends shows that searches for YouTube videos have particularly increased for ‘live classes’ (‘canlı derse’) in Turkey, ‘crash course’ ('crash course’) in Germany, ‘easy recipes’ (‘recette facile’) in France’, ‘for beginners’ (‘per principianti’) in Italy, ‘step by step’ (‘step by step’) in the U.K., ‘how to’ ('طريقة عمل') in the United Arab Emirates, and ‘learning’ ('learning') in Nigeria.
5. What people do: Search shows comeback for ‘near me’ consumer trend
With stores and personal care services reopening in some countries, it’s no surprise that Google Trends shows a comeback for ‘near me’ searches amongst consumers. While the exact term ‘near me’ has increasingly being searched for by people in Italy ('vicino a me') and Spain ('cerca de mi') in recent weeks, in the United Arab Emirates consumers were looking more specifically for ‘salon near me’ ('salon near me') as well as (‘shop near me’), and in South Africa for ‘shop near me’ ('shop near me').
Other buying behaviours in Google Trends show that more people are starting to show more interest in clothes shopping again, with ‘buy clothes’ ('comprar ropa') increasingly being searched for in Spain and ‘clothing online’ ('clothing online') in South Africa and ‘men’s clothes’ (‘ثياب رجالي’) in Saudi Arabia. And, as we get closer to summer, consumers are continuing to make the most of their outdoor spaces. In Finland, we saw an increase in search interest for ‘swimming pools’ (‘uima allas’), and in Poland for ‘lawn mowers’ (‘kosiarka spalinowa’).
As the weather continues to improve, consumers are also starting to explore summer holidays options close to home. In the last few weeks, searches have increased for ‘boat rental’ ('boot huren') in the Netherlands, ‘cottage rental’ ('sommerhus udlejning') in Denmark, and ‘camping’ (‘camping’) in Norway.
Explore more consumer search behaviour trends
You can view all our recent trends analyses in our search insights collection. While we provide a regularly updated snapshot of consumer behaviour changes and trends across EMEA, we understand it may be helpful to review the information more frequently, or for a specific country or region. To explore further insights, here are 10 tips for using Google Trends. By entering a keyword or a topic into the tool, you can explore what the world is searching for in near real time.