Year in Search 2020

Looking back to help move your business forward

To prepare for what’s next, it’s essential to understand what consumers want.

Dive into the latest Google & YouTube trends from 2020 to get ahead in 2021.

1 It's personal

2020 exposed there is no universal human experience. Aussies and Kiwis are finding ways to meet unique needs.

Self & identity

People are prioritising self-care and putting their physical and mental health first.

Self & identity
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There are 13,000 searches related to mental health every hour in Australia.1 Average daily uploads of YouTube videos with “self care” in the title more than doubled in 2020.2

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In AU we saw +125% increase in searches for weighted blankets.1 And in NZ, yoga searches on YouTube tracked at +80% higher than usual volumes.1

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Aussies are engaging more with home exercise on YouTube. Daily views of videos with “home workout” in the title rose 515% globally.4

Cultivating compassion

People crave experiences that embrace their own diverse needs and perspectives and the wellbeing of others.

Cultivating compassion
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Aussies’ No. 1 criteria for valuable content is whether it aligns with their personal passions and interests.3

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2200% increase in searches for employing people with disabilities in Australia.1

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1100% increase in searches for Indigenous lives matter.1 Indigenous creators brought in over 100M views on YouTube.5

What this means for brands

People place more value on media that enables them to navigate the challenges they face.

To Aussies, when it comes to defining valuable content, that which ‘features real, authentic people and voices’ is almost twice as important as whether ‘well known celebrities’ are featured.28

There's an important link between empathy, personalisation and brand trust. How can brands deliver scalable, empathetic experiences that recognise and embrace the individual experiences of consumers?

According to a 2020 Genesys study, 71% of people notice more personalisation in customer experience thanks to technology, but only 52% of consumers feel they’re treated with empathy.

  1. Understand the personal experiences of consumers as they search for solutions, and how you fit within their story.

    Aussie agency Thinkerbell launched Thrive@55, internships for +55 year-olds.

  2. Be inclusive by design. Focus on authentically meeting the needs of diverse audiences and help them navigate uncertain terrain.

    New Zealand Human Rights Commission launches Voice of Racism, challenging Kiwis to face the realities of everyday racism that exists in Aotearoa.

  3. Champion empathy by delivering personalisation at scale using smart automation tools.

    “It’s about being empathetic to why the customer has chosen to search for that particular thing, rather than just seeing it as a sales lead. Sometimes people just want information. Hopefully, they’ll remember that value and will come back to you because of it. It’s our job to be the most useful for consumers.” - Rowan Wilde, Head of Digital, Red Energy

2 Community counts

Throughout 2020, Aussies and Kiwis banded together to do more for each other than ever before. Consumers expect brands to be on board.


In a more isolated world, Aussies and Kiwis are increasingly seeking new ways to connect and support each other.

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Globally, 58% of people agree that watching live streams to participate in music and sporting events makes them feel connected to something bigger than themselves.6

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+600% growth in global YouTube video views with “#WithMe” in the title, where creators and viewers vicariously share in activities.7

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51% of New Zealanders and 47% of Australians believe it’s important to help others before you help yourself.8

Support local

Bushfires, COVID-19, social distancing, and isolation, amplified our desire to support local communities.

Support local
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Searches for “Australian Made” peaked as Aussies looked to support local brands following bushfires and COVID-19.9

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+84% of Aussies agree they place a greater value on local products and 83% would pay more for Australian brands.10

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In NZ, domestic online sales grew by 53%, while international sales were down 5% on the same period last year.30

What this means for brands

2020 showed just how strong the bonds of mateship are throughout Australia and New Zealand. People are using digital channels to create personal connections, help communities in need and build new support networks.

How can brands better enable us to enrich relationships and even create new ones?

Now is the time for brands to build trust, community, and reputation.

  1. Be where your consumers are, and be helpful.

    Google’s new Pixel and Nest campaign celebrates all the wonderful ways Aussies use these devices in their daily lives.

  2. Lean into local.

    2020 challenged retailers across AUNZ to adapt to meet people’s needs. We saw brands show up in new ways.

  3. Leave a positive mark on the communities you serve.

    Stuck at home, AFL players unleashed their competitive nature online through the new AFL gamers network, giving fans the opportunity to interact with their favourite players and play against them.

3 Lifestyle reimagined

Aussies and Kiwis are reimagining their lifestyles. 2020 saw people adopt new behaviours and technologies to meet changing needs.

Bargaining for balance

People want help to smoothly negotiate the ever-shifting management of tasks in their lives.

Bargaining for balance
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+50% of Aussies said brands can be most helpful by setting realistic expectations on the availability of products and services.29

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1 in 3 Millennial and Gen Z Australians say mobile banking quality is the reason for choosing their main financial institution.11

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+130% in searches for “kids at home” related activities in Australia and +120% in New Zealand.1

My way

People want to consume their way — where, when, and how they want.

My way
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22% of Aussies shop for items and pick up curbside.12

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COVID-19 has supercharged e-commerce, adding a projected 145M new digital buyers globally in 2020.13

The first ten months of 2020 saw online shopping spend in NZ grow by more than 25%.31

Accelerated digital behaviours

People are spending more time online than ever before. Data usage since 2010 is up 45X and is forecast to reach a whopping 160 trillion GB by 2025.14

Accelerated digital behaviours
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88% of Aussies now have access to one or more SVOD services — 3.9 million more than before COVID-19.15

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75% of Australia will have 5G coverage and all flagship mobiles will have 5G capability by June 2021.

Searches for 5G in AU increased 108% since 2019, indicating a healthy appetite among Aussies.32

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AU viewers aged 18-64 say that YouTube is the No. 1 platform they watch to solve a problem.16

In NZ, YouTube is now Kiwis’ favourite source of video content, with 1 in 2 Kiwis tuning in every day.17

What this means for brands

For brands, having an impact in 2021 is about generating interactive creativity that rises to meet consumer needs; wherever, whenever, and however they need to be met.

The best experiences are less about how consumers transact and more about how they engage and connect meaningfully throughout their audiences’ journey.

How can brands help us make the transition to our reimagined lifestyles smoother?

  1. Seamlessly connect physical and digital worlds for your consumers.

    AUNZ retailers that prioritised people’s changing needs came out on top.

  2. Rethink your business boundaries.

    Kia Australia used voice channel Google Assistant as a new way to generate leads and book test drives.

4 Finding joy

Happiness never goes out of style, and Aussies and Kiwis are known to keep a sense of humour. Amid the pandemic, consumers especially welcomed brands that sparked joy in their lives and created a safe space for them to take a break.

Humour and optimism

Consumers are discovering new kinds of downtime, and for Aussies and Kiwis in particular, that means getting a good laugh.

Humour and optimism
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No. 1 reason Aussies watch YouTube is to relax and unwind.18
No. 2 is to make us laugh.18

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54% of people agree that watching humorous creators or content online helped them cope with difficult moments in 2020.19

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+45% increase in watchtime of surfing videos in Australia from April to June 2020 vs the same period last year.20

Small indulgences

Amidst a generally thrifty mindset, indulgences to maintain the Aussie/Kiwi ‘lifestyle’ still had a place in 2020.

Small indulgences
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Restaurants/food delivery remains the #1 spending category but has evolved with a bigger focus on more intimate entertainment.21 YouTube watch time of home improvement videos doubled.20

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Australia saw a +24% growth and New Zealand a +38% growth in the share of self-care searches vs overall searches.22

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Over 60% of Australians are very or extremely concerned with the economy and length of the crisis.21

Sharing love

Social distancing is inspiring creative ways to share love.

Sharing love
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+70% increase in searches for flower delivery, compared to a previous year decline.22

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+50% increase YoY for “adopt a puppy”.22

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Home improvements and gifts rank higher for additional spend compared to pre-COVID.21

What this means for brands

People are finding joy in the simple things - activities like cooking or going for a walk now have even more meaning.

How can brands tap into daily moments and add joy to consumer experiences?

  1. Understand your consumer’s point of view to make things fun in a more personal way.

    Kiwi beer brand Emerson’s launched a Covid-safe Tiny Pub for a party of two - complete with a tiny dartboard and piano, one bartender and a one item menu.

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

    HelloFresh teamed up with YouTube creator How to DAD to create an award-winning campaign that continues to connect with families on both sides of the Tasman.

  3. Be willing to take creative risks.

    Read more about why now is the time for creative bravery.

5 Future proofing

From hair care to home maintenance, people are looking to upskill and “future proof” themselves intellectually, physically, and financially. After a year in which so many things felt out of control, Aussies and Kiwis are seeking greater stability for the future.

Economic prospects

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

Economic prospects
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Searches for the phrase “how to invest” increased 30% year over year in Australia—a turnaround from the previous year over year decline of 15%.22

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The query “how much do I need for a house deposit?” increased 200% in Australia.23

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During the pandemic, 43% of Aussies reviewed or created a budget and savings for the first time, and they’ll continue doing so. One-third now use a budgeting app.24

New skills

From the superficial level to the most profound, Aussies and Kiwis have sought to grow and take control of their own lives.

New skills
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YouTube videos with “beginner” in the title collected over 9 billion views globally in 2020,22 and average daily views of these videos have risen by over 50% since March 15, 2020.25

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Views of YouTube videos related to sourdough have increased over 260% in 2020.26

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Over 70% of Australian YouTube viewers aged 18 to 64 say the platform helps them learn new or improve skills they’re interested in.27

What this means for brands

How can brands help us to not only survive, but to actually thrive?

Account for consumers’ desire for peace of mind, lower risk appetite, and forward-planning mindset when crafting your business strategy and communications. Show them how bright the future can be.

  1. Communicate to empower, not overwhelm.

    Local AU YouTube celebrity and teacher Eddie Woo shares virtual teaching tips with educators.

  2. Get creative about reducing risk for consumers.

    Commbank announced a new feature within their app designed to help customers better manage their finances during the pandemic.

Explore the Museum of 2020

Want to learn more? Take our guided virtual tour that unpacks the profound effects of the strangest year in living memory, informed by key data and insights from Google and YouTube. You'll hear from leading Google experts, social commentators, YouTube creators and other special guests.

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