Helping you understand consumer needs in uncertain times

Lucy Sinclair / March 2020

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, changing the daily lives of people and businesses. As people adapt, consumer needs and behaviours are constantly changing too. This poses new challenges to marketers — and we would like to help you to remain helpful and relevant to your customers in these unprecedented times.

In order to help you understand what is top of mind for people during this time, we’ll be regularly mining Google Trends data across EMEA. These insights will cover three key areas:

  • Immediate needs
  • New day-to-day
  • Emerging behaviours

Since the dynamics of the pandemic can change from day to day, we’ll be updating these insights regularly as we see new trends emerge, so you always have access to the latest trends and shifting behaviours. Below are insights from the week of 23 March 2020.

Helping you understand consumer needs in uncertain times

Immediate needs

Because things are changing so fast many people are confused by new guidelines for daily life, and what these changes mean for them. In recent weeks this has led to a higher search interest across EMEA in:

Information on government instructions and shop closures. For example, there’s rising search interest in live broadcasts of press conferences and updates from the government (‘live speech’) in the UK and a search interest in which stores are still open (‘welche geschäfte’) in Germany.

Concerns around access to food essentials. For example, there’s growing search interest in ‘can you freeze’ ('can you freeze') in the UK and ‘home delivery’ ('livraison à domicile') in France.

Short-term jobs and financial relief. We’ve seen rising search interest for ‘short term work employee’ ('kurzarbeit arbeitnehmer') in Germany and ‘mortgage rate suspension’ (‘sospensione rate mutuo’) in Italy, for example.

Graph 1

New day-to-day

As people to adapt to new norms they are looking for helpful information on:

Digital continuity of education. For example, we’ve seen search interest increasing for ‘online collaboration for schools’ ('schul cloud') in Germany and ‘home learning (‘home learning’) in the UK. In MENA, parents and teachers tried to ensure continuity for kids through increased searches for 'distance education' ('distance education') in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

Ways to implement an exercise regimen at home. There’s growing search interest for ‘spin bikes’ ('spin bikes') in Italy and ‘dumbbell set’ ('dumbbell set') in the UK, for example.

Practical information to adapt to the digital way of working. For example, there has been a rising search interest for 'office chairs', 'desk chairs', and 'computer desks' ('office chairs', 'desk chairs', and 'computer desks') in the UK and ‘VPN client’ ('vpn client') in Germany.

Graph 2

Emerging behaviours

With travel restrictions in place and people spending more time in their own homes than ever before, they’re looking for creative ways to maintain or establish routines and find balance through:

Ways to bring the outside world inside. For example, in Spain we’ve seen greater search interest in ‘how to bake bread’ ('como hacer pan') and in France there’s increasing search interest in things ‘to do at home’ ('à la maison'). In Egypt, people are searching for recipes on 'how to make pancakes or “ البان كيك' as well as for 'طريقة الخبز العربي' or 'Arabic bread method' in Saudi Arabia.

Self care. People are searching for how to keep themselves mentally and physically healthy. For example, there’s growing search interest for ‘yoga mat’ (‘yoga mat’) in the UK and for ‘meditation’ (‘meditación’) in Spain. In MENA, people are searching more on the topic of 'skin care' ('skin care') as they continue to spend more time at home in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

Virtual ways to travel. For example, there’s rising search interest in ‘virtual tour’ ('visita virtual') in Spain and ‘live zoo’ (‘live zoo’) in the UK.

Graph 3

Explore more consumer behaviour trends

While this analysis provides a regularly updated snapshot of trends and shifting consumer behaviours 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 yourself. By entering a keyword or a topic into the tool, you can explore what the world is searching for in near real time.

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