Caravans, boats, and jacuzzis: How Covid-19 has changed consumer behaviour in the Netherlands

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Carsten Andreasen, Eva Menger / June 2020 / Consumer Insights, Netherlands, Research & Data

As lockdown measures in the Nordics and Benelux regions are being eased, reopenings of schools, stores, and restaurants have pushed local economies towards the ‘restart’ phase of the pandemic. But with many people still working from home, having to self isolate or dealing with financial hits, life is far from what it was before coronavirus took hold. And as a McKinsey & Company survey confirms, local consumers expect that their routines will be impacted for at least another couple of months.1

So how are these expectations reflected in consumer behaviour? From alternative holiday plans to long-term home office spaces, everyone is having to adapt, and people are turning to Search for help. To reveal what is top of mind for consumers in the Netherlands, our Market Insights team share the biggest shifts in local search trends.

From shopping cart to front door

As non-essential shops closed and essential shops dealt with hour-long queues due to social distancing measures, the demand for online shopping unsurprisingly skyrocketed at the start of the crisis. In the week of March 15th, shortly after the ‘intelligent lockdown’ was announced, searches for ‘delivery’ (‘bezorging’) increased significantly compared to the same time last year, and have remained relatively high.

Particular spikes could be seen in ‘grocery delivery’ (‘boodschappen bezorgen’), ‘flower delivery’ (‘bloemen bezorgen’), and at-home training equipment such as ‘hometrainers’ (‘hometrainer’) and ‘resistance bands’ (‘weerstandsband’), but while all of these went back to normal levels after a couple of weeks, the category that people in the Netherlands are still ordering much more of is food (‘eten bezorgen’).

A summer close to home

Since a majority of borders is closed for leisure travel, a number of people have had to cancel their original holiday plans, prompting high searches around both ‘travel insurance’ (‘reisverzekering’) and ‘cancellation insurance’ (‘annuleringsverzekering’). Compared to the last 5 years, queries around ‘last minute holidays’ (‘last minute vakanties’), typically associated with all-inclusive trips to sunny destinations, have dropped significantly.

For many, the prospect of not being able to go anywhere is being compensated by creating a luxury experience at home. From ‘jacuzzi's’ (‘jacuzzi’), ‘outside showers’ (‘buitendouche’), ‘patio heaters’ (‘terrasverwarmer’), ‘deck chairs’ (‘ligbed’), and ‘barbeques’ (‘bbq’) to ‘slides’ (‘glijbaan’), ‘table tennis tables’ (‘tafeltennistafel’), and ‘playground equipment’ (‘speeltoestel tuin’) — a soaring search interest for each of these products suggests consumers throughout the Netherlands are well-prepared for their staycations.

Keen to spend more time on the water this summer, the Dutch are also increasingly looking into buying their own boat (‘boot kopen’ ‘sloep kopen’).

Alternative summer plans

But with lockdown rules loosening, people have also started to look into buying a ‘mobile home’ (‘stacaravan te koop’), and while lower than last year, a continued interest in ‘campers and caravans’ (‘camper’; ‘caravan’) confirms that, despite not being able to go very far, going away for the summer is still very much on people’s minds.

The Dutch are also eager to go camping, with camping in the Netherlands (‘kamperen in Nederland’) showing a much higher and earlier peak than in previous years. And a surprisingly high search interest in ‘private sanitary’ (‘prive sanitair’) suggests that people who normally wouldn’t go camping, are now looking into comfortable ways of doing so.

In terms of accommodation, people are mostly looking for campsites (‘camping’) and hotels (‘hotel’), and much less for bed and breakfasts (‘bed and breakfast’), apartments (‘appartement’), or ‘summer houses’ (‘vakantiehuis’).

How Covid-19 has changed consumer behaviour in the Netherlands

Looking at destinations, there’s been a huge spike in queries around ‘holiday in the Netherlands’ (‘vakantie in Nederland’), with particular interest in Zeeland (‘vakantie in Zeeland’) and Texel (‘vakantie in Texel’). There’s still an eagernes to go abroad as well, with popular searches beyond the Netherlands including ‘holiday France’ (‘vakantie Frankrijk’), ‘holiday Spain’ (‘vakantie Spanje’) and ‘holiday Germany’ (‘vakantie Duitsland’) in particular.

Lifestyle changes

At the start of lockdown, people enthusiastically took to baking, with bread and banana bread (‘brood bakken’; ‘bananenbrood’) being especially popular. At the same time, searches for ‘dieting’ (‘dieet’) and ‘losing weight’ (‘afvallen’) dropped far below average levels, comparable to what you’d normally only see in December. However, after just a few weeks, the trends reversed, with the latter queries climbing up to reach levels comparable to January, typically the annual peak when it comes to searches around ‘healthy eating’ (‘gezond eten’).

How Covid-19 has changed consumer behaviour in the Netherlands

Housing

Another shift in search behaviour shows that the Dutch have become increasingly interested in properties either with a garden (‘huis met tuin’) or by the water (‘huis aan het water’). Whether it’s because they want more space to enjoy the outdoors with their families or because it’s something they missed while having to self-isolate, it could well be a new housing trend that’s here to stay.

As the current situation is causing consumer behaviour to change rapidly and unpredictably, keeping an eye on Google Search Trends can help marketers better respond to the needs of their customers. For weekly updates on local search trends, you can visit the new rising retail categories tool here.

Google Trends insights to help you understand consumer behaviour throughout the COVID-19 pandemic