Search insights to help you understand consumer needs in uncertain times – 6 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 search insights across EMEA 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 (week of 6 April 2020), show that consumer demands have evolved into sophisticated asks across categories. As people are becoming more familiar with the new situation, searches for immediate needs are shifting from access to food and other essentials, to long-term needs such as financial aid and continued education.

And, compared to the search trends we highlighted last week, many consumers are settling into a new way of life by finding different ways to enjoy their spaces at home. They’re upgrading their appliances for access to at-home luxuries, looking to grow their own food, and are turning to online content for entertainment and inspiration.

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Immediate needs during the coronavirus pandemic

While in previous weeks immediate needs were often tied to food and essential services, consumers are becoming more familiar with the new situation and comfortable with their access to essentials. Instead, immediate needs are shifting to be focused on those with long-term implications, such as financial aid and continued education. In the last week we saw an increasing search interest on Google Trends for online payment options, employment support, and mobile usage — as more consumers are spending time on their devices.

Digital banking, financial apps, and loans

In South Africa consumers were searching for ‘how to pay’ for products and services through banking apps ('how to pay'), in the U.K. searches for ‘digital banking’ ('digital banking') were on the rise, and in Nigeria both ‘bank transfer’ ('bank transfer') and interest for mobile payment service ‘Cash App’ ('cash app') saw an increase in the past week. Meanwhile, in Turkey consumers were increasingly using search to find information on ‘loan from bank’ ('ihtiyaç kredisi').

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Government assistance programmes

Bank loans aren’t the only financial aid support that saw a rising search interest in the past week on Google Trends, government assistance programmes were also searched for in increasing numbers across EMEA. In Poland consumers looked for ‘social insurance exemption’ ('zus zwolnienie'), and in Sweden for ‘unemployment benefit insurance’ ('a-kassa'). In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the government’s online job search portal Virtual Job Market saw an increase in searches ('virtual job market'), and in Spain consumers searched in higher numbers for ‘ministry of employment’ ('ministra de trabajo').

Mobile usage and education continuity

Finances aren’t the only immediate needs on consumers’ minds these days. As people increasingly turn to their mobiles to stay connected, we saw search interest rise for ‘how to share data’ ('how to share data') and ‘how to share airtime’ ('how to share airtime') in Nigeria and ‘app download’ (‘app download’) in Kenya. And online education continues to be a much sought after topic too, as search interest has increased for ‘free courses’ ('free courses') in the U.K., ‘online school book platform’ ('الديوان للكت') in UAE, ‘e school’ ('e school') in South Africa, and ‘lessons on TV by teachers’ ('lekcje tvp') in Poland.

Creating a new day-to-day

As consumers are settling into spending more time at home, Google Trends shows there is an increase in search interest in making the most from this space. People are reinventing and reorganising their homes, finding ways to work out and relax in the same space, and they’re upgrading their appliances for access to at-home luxuries.

Reinventing spaces and chores

As consumers spend more time at home, they are looking for new ways to make the most of their space, keep organised, and stay on top of housework. Google Trends shows a rising search interest in ‘ideas and tricks’ for keeping kitchens organised in Saudi Arabia (‘فكار وحيل'), ‘bedroom storage’ (‘rangement chambre') in France, ‘DIY room decor’ (‘diy room decor’) in the U.K., ‘community cleaning services’ ('limpieza de comunidades') in Spain, and car washing (‘auto waschen') in Germany.

Working out in new ways at home

People aren’t only reorganising their space at home, they’re also using it in a different way than before. There is a continued rise in search interest for workouts and meditations to keep bodies and minds active and relaxed that can be done without going to a class at the gym. In the last week, people were searching for ‘dance workout’ (‘dance workout’) in UAE, ‘gymnastics for children’ (‘ginnastica per bambini’) in Italy, ‘workout at home’ in Germany ('workout für zuhause') and South Africa (‘workout at home’), in Turkey people searched for ‘yoga movements’ ('yoga hareketleri'), and the U.K. saw an increase in searches for ‘meditation for sleep’ ('meditation for sleep').

Upgrading home appliances

We found in previous weeks that dining out saw a decline in comparison to home deliveries, and people are baking and cooking more themselves. As they’re getting accustomed to preparing meals at home, both basic and luxury appliances saw an increasing rise in searches. In the past week people were increasingly looking for ‘waffle maker’ ('waffle makinesi') in Turkey, ‘pizza oven’ (‘pizza oven’) in the U.K., ‘stand mixer’ ('robot patissier') in France, ‘gas grill’ ('gasgrill') in Germany, ‘electric grill’ (‘شواية كهربائية’) in Saudi Arabia, and refrigerators ('køle fryseskab') in Denmark. And, as the weather is getting nicer in the Northern Hemisphere, people are looking to upgrade their garden spaces too, with a rise in searches for ‘garden pools’ (‘da giardino’) in Italy and ‘garden grill’ ('zahradní gril') in the Czech Republic.

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Emerging behaviours from Google Trends

This week Google Trends shows that consumer behaviour is shifting towards accessing at-home needs, food, and entertainment in different ways than before. Needless to say, online shopping saw a rise in search interest, but not only that, people are looking for good deals while they are browsing too. Though for food access it’s sustainability and growing at home that saw an increase in searches. And, as more countries in EMEA are on lockdown and venues such as cinemas and theatres are closed, people are turning to online content to entertain and inspire.

In-home leisure on a budget

People aren’t only turning to online shopping for all their at-home needs as highlighted in this week’s ‘new day-to-day’ trends, but they also want to bag a good deal while they’re at it. To that effect, Google Trends shows a rise in searches for ‘discount code’ (‘discount code’) in the U.K., ‘online sales’ (‘online satış’) in Turkey, ‘promo codes’ (‘code promo’) in France, ‘discounts’ ('خصم ') in Saudi Arabia, ‘shopping vouchers’ (‘buoni spesa’) in Italy, ‘online shopping’ (‘online shopping’) in South Africa and Kenya, and ‘shopping Sunday’ (‘niedziela handlowa’) in Poland.

Sustainable ways to access and grow food

As people are spending more time cooking their own meals, they’re looking for sustainable access to food — and are even experimenting with growing their own. In the past week we saw a rise in search interest on Google Trends for ‘buying from the farmer’ ('kopen bij de boer') in the Netherlands, and ‘vegetable garden’ (‘le potager’) and ‘direct sale producer’ (‘vente directe producteur’) in France. In the U.K., people were increasingly interested in ‘seeds for sale’ (‘seeds for sale’) and ‘plants online’ ('plants online').

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Entertainment and inspiration on YouTube

As more countries in EMEA are moving to a lockdown, people are turning to online content for entertainment and inspiration to spend their time. In the past week people searched increasingly on YouTube for things to ‘do when you’re bored’ ('do when you're bored') in the U.K. ‘easy and simple hairstyles’ ('تسريحات شعر بسيطه وسهله') in Egypt, ‘DIY’ in Germany (’selber machen’) and Turkey ('kendin yap'), ‘makeup tutorial’ (‘makeup tutorial’) in South Africa, ‘do it in 5 minutes’ ('5 dakikada hallet') in Turkey, and ‘eating challenges’ ('تحدي الاكل') in Saudi Arabia.

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.

Lucy Sinclair

Lucy Sinclair

Director, Market Insights EMEA Google