Search insights to help you understand consumer needs in uncertain times – 20 April 2020 edition

Lucy Sinclair / April 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. As people adapt to this new situation, consumer needs and behaviours are constantly changing, which poses new challenges to marketers.

We’ll be regularly sharing the latest EMEA search insights from Google Trends to help you understand what is top of mind for your customers — so you can continue to be helpful and relevant during this unprecedented time. These insights will cover three key areas:

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

The Google Trends insights highlighted in this edition cover the last two weeks of data as we’ve seen trends starting to shift towards traditional categories. People across EMEA are getting used to a ‘new normal’ and search interest in financial support, online learning, and new shopping expectations have consistently appeared across our recent insight analyses.

However, while immediate needs are stabilising, people are continuing to look for new ways to pass their time. Whether it’s preparing their outdoors space for the summer, exploring pet adoptions, spending time with friends and family online, or looking to DIY their self-care, beauty, baking, and home decor, people are adapting and being creative with how they spend their time.

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Immediate needs during the coronavirus pandemic

People’s immediate needs are continuing to focus on those with long-term implications, such as financial aid and education. In the last few weeks we saw an increasing search interest on Google Trends for financial support in the form of loans and grants, helping others in the community with donations to charities and hospitals, and adapting to a new online learning environment.

Looking for financial support

As the long-term financial implications of the pandemic hit consumers and businesses, Google Trends shows increased searches for financial relief, such as business loans and unemployment grants. In Saudi Arabia people searched for ‘credit exemption’ ('اعفاء بنك التسليف'), in Turkey for ‘support loan’ ('ihtiyaç destek kredisi'), In Poland for ‘loans’ (‘pożyczka’), In Italy for ‘business loans’ ('prestiti alle imprese'), in the Czech Republic for ‘forms for loans’ ('formulář pro osvč'), in Kenya for ‘loan Kenya’ ('loan kenya'), in Egypt for ‘unemployment grant’ (‘منحة العاطلين’), and in South Africa for ‘payment relief’ (‘payment relief’).

Helping others with charitable donations

People aren’t only looking into their own finances and changing situations. Google Trends shows that charities saw a significant increase in interest in donations across EMEA as consumers are exploring ways to contribute and help others in need. ‘NHS charity’ ('nhs charity') and ‘donate to’ ('donate to’) saw an increase in searches in the U.K., ‘charitable organisation ('charitable organization’) in Spain, ‘charity’ in Italy ('charity') and Nigeria ('charity'), ‘donation’ ('donation') in Kenya, ‘donate’ ('yeteriz bağış') in Turkey, and ‘blood donation’ ('التبرع بالدم') in Saudi Arabia.

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Adapting to online learning

And, as e-learning continues to proliferate, search interest shows that consumers are looking for platforms and resources to help them adapt to this new online learning environment. ‘E-learning’ saw an increase in search interest in Kenya (‘e-learning’), ‘distance education’ in Italy (‘distanza scuola’) and Saudi Arabia (‘distance education’), distance learning (‘distansutbildning’) in Sweden, virtual classroom ('aula virtual') in Spain, and ‘technology in education’ (‘التكنولوجيا في التعليم’) in Egypt.

Creating a new day-to-day

As consumers are settling into the new shopping day-to-day, Google Trends shows an increase in search interest for people looking for clarity on store guidance and online deliveries. Additionally, people are reinventing the way they spend their time at home. Whether they’re preparing their outdoors spaces for warmer weather, virtually bonding with family and friends, looking to adopt a new pet, or expanding their DIY skills, people are adapting and being creative with their new-found situation.

Understanding new shopping behaviour

Many stores have new opening hours and guidance in place to create a safe shopping environment, and Google Trends shows that people are actively searching for these new regulations with their search and shopping behaviour. In France people search ‘can we do our shopping together?’ ('peut on faire ses courses a deux'), and in other parts of EMEA consumers are looking for information on ‘opening hours today’ ('öffnungszeiten heute') in Germany, ‘opening times’ ('öppettider påsk') in Sweden, and ‘opening hours’ in Poland ('otwarcia sklepów') and Denmark ('åbningstider påske'). And, as the new rules are causing increased queues in front of stores, in the U.K. people are also looking for the ‘quietest time to go shopping’ and ‘the best time to go to supermarket’ (‘quietest time to go shopping’ + ‘best to time to go to supermarket').

Expectations for online delivery

Additionally, search interest shows that many consumers are changing their shopping behaviour and planning to skip the physical shopping experience, as they’re looking for a broad range of products online that can be delivered straight to their door. In Spain consumers were searching for ‘sushi delivery’ ('sushi a domicilio'), in France for ‘chocolate delivery’ ('livraison chocolat'), in Italy for ‘nursery home delivery’ ('vivaio consegna a domicilio'), in the U.K. for ‘compost delivery’ (‘compost delivery’), and people in Denmark were increasingly searching for the more general ‘for delivery’ ('til levering').

Getting ready to spend time outside

As the weather continues to improve, we’ve seen search behaviour change with consumers readying themselves for spending more time outdoors. However, instead of going to the beach or a park, they’re looking for ways to catch the sunshine closer to home — and many are exploring trying their hand at gardening. In France we saw an increase in searches for ‘how to sunbathe’ ('comment bronzer') and ‘how to grow plants’ ('comment planter’), in Denmark for ‘square trampoline’ ('trampolin firkantet') and ‘greenhouse’ ('drivhus'), in Poland for ‘balcony equipment’ ('na balkon'), in Spain for ‘artificial grass’ ('césped artificial'), in Italy for ‘garden beds’ (‘lettino da giardino’), in Turkey for ‘tomato seeds’ ('domates tohumu'), in Norway for ‘hammock’ (‘hengekoye’), in Germany for ‘jacuzzi garden’ ('whirlpool garten'), in the Netherlands for ‘mobile air conditioner’ ('mobiele airco’), and in the U.K. for ‘pressure washer’ ('pressure washer').

Bonding with family — and pets

House-bound consumers are also finding new, virtual ways to connect with their friends and families. ‘With friends’ saw an increased search interest on Google Trends in both Norway ('with friends') and Belgium ('with friends'), and in Poland for ‘live mass’ (‘święta na żywo dzisiaj’). And, with people spending more time at home than before, animal lovers are exploring ways to grow their family. In France ‘cat adoption’ ('adoption chat') saw an increase in searches, and in Turkey ‘dog adoption’ ('köpek sahiplenme').

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Continuing with at-home DIY

As the weeks go on, people have become more creative and self-reliant, and their at-home needs around self care, beauty, food, and home decor continue to centre around do-it-yourself (DIY). In France we saw an increased search interest for ‘make false nails’ ('faire des faux ongles'), in the U.K. for ‘lemon juice in hair’ ('lemon juice in hair’) and ‘tanning water’ ('tanning water'), in Poland for ‘tanning accelerator’ (przyspieszacz do opalania'), in South Africa for ‘skin products’ (‘skin products’), in Turkey for ‘cut fringe’ ('kahkül kesimi') and ‘smart detox’ (‘smart detox’), in Spain for ‘how to whiten teeth’ ('como blanquear los dientes'), in Germany for ‘DIY yeast’ ('hefe selber machen'), and in Kenya for ‘ice cream at home’ ('ice cream at home').

Emerging search behaviours from Google Trends

Whether it’s product reviews to aid with purchase decisions, apps that can help meet new needs, or watching YouTube live streams and creative videos, the search behaviours we can see from the Google Trends insights show that consumers are using the knowledge and tools available online to help them make the most of the current situation.

Exploring the best purchase options

The trends in ‘immediate needs’ have shown shopping behaviours have changed with more people looking to buy online. As they’re doing so, they have a renewed interest in reading reviews and exploring thebest options before deciding what to buy. In France Google Trends showed an increased search interest for ‘air freshener reviews’ ('rafraichisseur d air avis') and ‘best air conditioner’(‘meilleur climatiseur'), in Germany for ‘review’ ('review' in the Home & Garden' category), and in the Netherlands for ‘best electric bike’ ('beste elektrische fiets').

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Looking for (free) apps and online tools

As more consumers move online for work, education, and entertainment, their demand for free apps and helpful tools continue to rise. Google Trends shows an increased search interest in ‘free download’ in Germany (‘kostenlos herunterladen’) and Italy (‘scaricare gratis’), ‘games free’ (‘games free’) in Sweden, ‘converter free download’ (‘converter free download’) in the United Arab Emirates, ‘free VPN’ (‘free vpn’) in the U.K., ‘app free’ (‘app free’) in Nigeria, ‘free online courses’ (‘free online courses’) in South Africa, ‘free PDF’ (‘free pdf’) in Egypt, and ‘free online’ (‘gratuitos online’) in France.

And it’s not only free apps and services that saw an increase in searches, apps across a wide range of categories gained popularity. Google Trends shows a rising search interest for ‘TV mobile app’ ('tv mobile app') in Nigeria, ‘music apps’ ('music apps') in the U.K., ‘delivery app’ ('افضل تطبيق توصيل') in Saudi Arabia, ‘bicycle app’ ('fiets app') in Belgium, ‘news app’ ('news app') in the United Arab Emirates, and ‘recognition app’ ('herkennen app') in the Netherlands.

Watching YouTube for live streams and creative inspiration

With the behavioural shift to online, consumers are also increasingly tapping into online video content to meet their new needs. In the past week, people turned to YouTube for live streams, new ways to worship, and creative inspiration. Google Trends shows an increase in interest for ‘National Theatre live’ (‘national theatre live’) and ‘breathing exercises’ (‘breathing exercises’) in the U.K., ‘parliament sitting’ ('sejm na żywo') in Poland, ‘online worship’ (‘online gottesdienst') and ‘homemade Easter presents’ (‘ostergeschenke selber machen’) in Germany, ‘Easter DIY activities’ (‘lavoretti di pasqua’) in Italy, and ‘how to make a kite’ ('uçurtma nasıl yapılır') in Turkey.

Explore more consumer search 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.

Lucy Sinclair

Lucy Sinclair

Director, Market Insights EMEA Google