Year in Search 2020

Looking back to move your marketing forward.

To get ready for what’s next, it’s essential to understand what matters most to consumers. Google Search data reveals a path forward that’s ripe with opportunities for brands to create a brighter, better year ahead.

1 Individual Matters

While COVID-19 became a globally shared problem in 2020, it also exposed a simple truth: there is no universal human experience. Search trends reveal consumers are placing more value on individual needs and perspectives, even if they're outside the norm.

Confronting stigmas

People are confronting stigmas and discreetly educating themselves, even on taboo topics.

Confronting stigmas
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+35%

+35% in searches related to "body positivity"; for example, "quotes against body shaming" (Philippines)

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+40%

Philippines, India, Singapore, and Indonesia all saw over 40% growth in mental health-related searches like "how to take care of mental health", "mental health tips", and "mental health test".

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+25%

+25% in searches about gender equality (Indonesia)

Considering others

People are considering others' unique needs, too, and looking for ways to accommodate them.

Considering others
considering others 1 placeholder

+250%

+250% in searches for "what to say to someone depressed" (Philippines)

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+2200%

+2200% in searches for "employing people with disabilities" (Australia)

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+250%

+250% in searches related to disability etiquette (India)

What this means for brands

Nods to diversity, equity, and inclusion aren't enough. It takes empathy for the sheer variety of situations consumers face, and authentic outreach to those seeking help – both of which impact their experiences with your brand. In Asia-Pacific, only 1 in 5 people feel represented in the ads they see (according to Global Web Index), which presents huge opportunities for brands to innovate and grow. Explore this insight in the full report.

  1. Consider the individual journey of each consumer (sometimes literally).

    Ikea gives customers a distance-based discount.

  2. Build for inclusivity from the beginning, and look for ways to meet the deeper needs of your audience. Consumers expect brands to champion equality holistically, not as an afterthought.

    Autism-friendly shopping draws families to Sunway Putra Mall in Malaysia.

  3. Tone and timing matter. Don't push taboos too soon (which could come off as a stunt), but show your support by connecting with audiences when they're ready.

    A welcoming social post featuring a gay couple earns praise for the W Singapore.

2 Higher Purpose

As global crises test their values, people are looking for ways to do more for their communities and the environment – and they expect the same of brands. TrendWatching notes that while sustainability concerns aren't new, consumers have shifted from seeking eco-status to avoiding eco-shame.

Environmental impact

Confronted with their own personal consumption habits during lockdowns, people have been reassessing their impact on the environment.

Environmental impact
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+1000%

+1000% in searches for "eco-friendly masks" (環保 口罩) (Taiwan)

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+65% in searches for "reusable" compared to +30% in previous year (Malaysia)

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+125%

+125% in searches for "eco-friendly packaging" compared to +55% in previous year (Philippines)

Community connections

Social distancing – and isolation, in many cases – brought a desire to proactively connect to our wider community by giving back.

Community connections
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2000%

+2000% in searches for "find volunteer activities" (봉사 활동 찾기) over past 2 years (South Korea)

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+150% in searches for "donate" (menyumbangkan) compared to +15% in previous year (Indonesia)

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+75%

+75% in searches for "how to help" compared to flat growth in previous year (India)

What this means for brands

Going beyond corporate social responsibility and environmentalism, this trend is about expanding where you can make meaningful connections with (and for) consumers. Meeting their personal functional and emotional needs should be a given. Now, it's just as important to actively support their communities and take actions to integrate sustainability into your business. Explore this insight in the full report.

  1. Create new ways for consumers to connect with each other and their environment.

    Converse invites artists to create air-purifying urban murals across APAC.

  2. Make your business values and internal practices a visible part of your external brand.

    Shiseido gives Japanese consumers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of its R&D process.

3 Whole Selves

Lines are blurring in the roles people play, and consumers are looking to have more specific needs met at any one time. As innovations in one industry (on-demand taxis) can drive expectations in another (on-demand groceries), the burden is on brands, not consumers, to keep up.

Work-life efficiency

Efficiency is more important than ever, as people struggle to manage work and home needs under one roof.

Work-life efficiency
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+60%

+60% in searches for "to do list" (Philippines)

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+35% in searches for "childcare" (아이 돌봄) compared to +10% in previous year (South Korea)

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+130%

+130% in searches for "kids at home"-related activities compared to flat growth a year ago (Australia)

Belief-driven buying

Personal beliefs and preferences are driving more buying decisions.

Belief-driven buying
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+30%

+30% for halal-related searches (Vietnam)

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+150%

+150% in searches related to plant based meat (Japan)

Local language

People are seeking out brands that truly speak to them.

Local language
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+70% in searches for "translate English to Indonesian text" (Indonesia)

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+90%

India saw over 90% growth in searches for “translate English to Hindi

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35%

35% of top searches in the past year were in non-English languages (key APAC markets)

What this means for brands

People bring their whole selves to your brand, not just their consumer identities. How can you challenge your business to reexamine and redefine industry norms? A wider understanding of your audience ultimately means a wider business opportunity. For example, about 60% of Internet content is in English, but native English speakers comprise only 5.4% of the global population. Explore this insight in the full report.

  1. Speak to consumers like a local.

    Flipkart engages Indian shoppers using vernacular voice assistance.

  2. Rethink your business boundaries.

    Hyundai's luxury car brand Genesis brings test drives and other showroom services directly to customers' homes.

4 Sweet Relief

Happiness never goes out of style, but amid the historic challenges of the pandemic, consumers especially welcome brands that spark joy in their lives and create a safe space for them to take a break.

Downtime

Consumers are discovering new kinds of downtime.

Downtime
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+1900%

+1900% in searches for "staycation" (Hong Kong, the top global market for this search)

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+700%

+700% in searches for "drive in theater" (ドライブ イン) (Japan)

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+55%

+55% in searches for "mukbang" eating shows (Malaysia)

Small indulgences

Small indulgences are big.

Small indulgences
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+25%

+25% in searches for "chocolate" compared to +5% the previous year (Pakistan)

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+125%

+125% in searches for "gaming chair" (เก้าอี้ เกม มิ่ง) (Thailand)

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+65%

+65% in searches for plant-related terms like "plant rack" and "indoor plants" (Philippines)

Sharing love

Social distancing is inspiring creative ways to share the love.

Sharing love
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+95%

+95% in searches for "balloon delivery" compared to previous flat growth (Singapore)

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+50%

+50% in searches for "adopt a puppy" compared to previous flat growth (Australia)

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+60%

+60% in searches for "where to use gift certificates" (상품권 사용처) (South Korea)

What this means for brands

Brands that surprise and delight can reap the rewards of consumer love – especially when they do it with empathy for people's unique experiences and challenges (see trend 1, Individual Matters). Explore this insight in the full report.

  1. Understand your consumers' point of view to make things fun in a more personal way.

    Google delights Avengers fans with surprise results when they search for one of the movie's villains.

  2. Be funny, too. (In good taste, of course.)

    Using search analytics, Mars serves up chocolate prizes in response to quirky Google queries.

5 Future Proofing

In a year that nobody could have predicted or planned for, there's been a new wave of interest in managing the things you can control, future-proofing our lives wherever possible and seeking more assurance from brands to ensure peace of mind.

Economic prospects

People are strengthening their economic prospects by boosting their skills, financial knowledge, and side hustles.

Economic prospects
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+35%

+35% in searches for "stock investing" (đầu tư chứng khoán) compared to -10% in previous year (Vietnam)

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+400%

+400% in searches for "fundamentals of digital marketing" from previous year's flat growth (India)

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+215%

+215% in searches for "side business remote" (副業 リモート) from previous year's flat growth (Japan)

Health management

Proactive health management is on the rise.

Health management
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+60%

+60% (New Zealand) and +116% (Australia) in searches for "blue light glasses"

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+160%

+160% in searches for "maintain health" (menjaga kesehatan) (Indonesia)

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+20%

+20% in searches for "benefits of" solutions such as alternative medicine, from previous year's flat growth (Philippines)

What this means for brands

Account for your consumers' desire for peace of mind, lower appetite for risk, and forward-planning mindset when crafting your business strategy and communications. Explore this insight in the full report.

  1. Communicate to empower, not overwhelm.

    For the top 13 apps combined, consumers are asked to consent to terms and conditions that are longer than a novel.

  2. Get creative about reducing risk for consumers.

    Ecoworld's new try-before-you-buy program entices Malaysian renters to consider homeownership.

Get the full report

Google Trends, Nov. 1, 2019 - Oct. 31, 2020 vs. Nov. 1, 2018–Oct. 31, 2019

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