Search insights to help you understand consumers: Sub-Saharan Africa saw rises in 'exercise bike' and 'laptop'

Lucy Sinclair / May 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.

25 May 2020 edition

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt by everyone around the world. And as consumer needs and behaviours have changed, this poses new challenges to marketers. We’re regularly sharing the latest EMEA search insights from Google Trends to help you understand what is important to your customers, so you can continue to be helpful and relevant during this unprecedented time. You can also use Google Trends yourself to explore changing search interests to view a more instant analysis.

As people are adjusting to the current situation and trends are starting to become more consistent, we are focusing our analyses on the macro shifts in consumer behaviour — to understand what the long-term impact might be in a post-lockdown world.

The five key themes we cover within these are:

  1. What people know: Seeking timely and accurate information from trusted sources
  2. How people make a living: Changes to work and finances
  3. How people feel: Wellbeing, connection, and community
  4. How people learn: Formal and informal education for children and adults
  5. What people do: Spending time and money in new ways
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The Google Trends insights highlighted in this edition show that while some consumer interest remains consistent, including searches for guidelines for essential and non-essential services, financial support, and help with physical and mental wellbeing, there are some new trends emerging. In recent weeks there has been a particular increase in search interest for more niche ‘how to’ education (for example, how to take care of tadpoles and how to cut corsets), as people become more innovative in their search for knowledge. And search categories such as apparel, consumer electronics, and real estate have also been on the rise.

1. What people know: Searching for guidelines for essential and non-essential services

As governments begin to relax their lockdown measures in different stages across EMEA, consumers are turning increasingly to Search to stay on top of the latest helpful information and guidelines for both essential and non-essential services.

Google Trends shows that in Germany people in recent weeks have searched for ‘is it allowed to’ ('darf man'), in Italy for ‘guidelines’ for restaurants, salons, etc. ('linee guida'), in Poland for ‘guidelines for’ salons, hairdressers, restaurants, and more ('wytyczne dla'), in Israel for ‘operating hours’ of banks, post offices, etc. ('שעות פעילות'), and in France for ‘opening of’ beaches, campsites, restaurants, and more ('ouverture des').

With wedding season approaching, uncertainty about planning big live events is also increasing. People in Poland have been looking into ‘wedding coronavirus’ ('wesela koronawirus') and in Turkey search interest has increased for ‘when are weddings’ ('düğünler ne zaman').

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2. How people make a living: Looking for job opportunities and government support schemes

The implications of the pandemic on the finances of businesses and individuals has been significant⁠ — and search interest for finance related topics remains high. In the past two weeks, searches for new job opportunities and government support schemes have continued to increase across EMEA.

Consumers in France were searching for ‘seasonal employment’ ('emploi saisonnier'), in Belgium ('offre emploi') and Italy ('offerte lavoro') for ‘job offers’, in Germany for ‘part time jobs’ ('teilzeit jobs'), in Saudi Arabia for ‘remote jobs’ ('وظائف عن بعد'), and in Poland people increasingly searched for ‘start a business’ ('na rozpoczęcie działalności'),

Google Trends also shows that in the U.K. there has been an increasing search interest for support scheme ‘self-employment income’ (‘self employment income’) and in Spain for ‘minimum vital income’ ('ingreso minimo vital'), the new social security scheme introduced in the country for vulnerable single-parent households. The new Spanish scheme will be permanent, so it’ll be interesting to see what other changes introduced during the pandemic in different countries will be here for the long-term.

3. How people feel: Staying fit during lockdown through exercise and a healthy diet

As many countries across EMEA have been in various degrees of lockdown for a fair few months now, it is no surprise that many people are prioritising their mental and physical health, even if it’s from the confines of their own homes. In many countries gyms and fitness studios have been closed and consumers are travelling and commuting less, all of which is taking a toll on their fitness levels and general wellbeing.

Google Trends shows an increasing search interest for ‘mental health’ ('الصحة النفسية') in Egypt, ‘yoga journal’ ('diario de yoga') in Spain, ‘exercise bike’ ('exercise bike) in South Africa, ‘Keto diet’ ('dieta ketogeniczna') in Poland, and ‘how many calories per day’ ('günde kaç kalori') in Turkey.

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And, where allowed, consumers are also exploring when and where they can venture outside, with an increase in searches in recent weeks for ‘fitness studio’ ('fitnessstudio') in Germany, where lockdown measures have significantly eased-up, and ‘tennis courts’ ('tennis courts') in the U.K.

4. How people learn: Searches increase for niche ‘how to’ categories

While in some countries in EMEA schools are slowly reopening, that doesn’t mean there has been a slowdown in online learning searches. Online education remains top of mind for both people in traditional education and those using their newfound time at home to learn new skills. In recent weeks, Google Trends also shows an increasing interest for more niche ‘how to’ categories, as consumers are getting more inventive in their search for new knowledge.

Consumers in Turkey searched for ‘online exam publications’ ('yayınları online') and ‘language learning’ ('dil öğrenme'), and in the United Arab Emirates for ‘distance learning’ ('التعلم عن بعد'). While people in Poland have been searching for ‘home remedies’ ('domowe sposoby'), in the U.K. for ‘how to look after’ tadpoles, orchids, kittens, and more ('how to look after'), in Nigeria for ‘how to cut’ clothes, corsets, etc. ('how to cut'), and in Egypt for ‘how to write’ references, essays, research papers, and more ('how to write').

5. What people do: Change in consumer behaviour and search interest

Across EMEA, retail categories such as apparel and consumer electronics are starting to rise to pre-pandemic levels again as people are looking to upgrade their wardrobes and personal electronics.

In recent weeks consumer behaviour and search interest grew for ‘checkered pants’ (‘ternet bukser’) in Denmark, ‘plus size clothing’ ('ropa tallas grandes') in Spain, ‘sneakers for’ ('sneakers for') and ‘smart TV’ ('smart tv') in South Africa, ‘women’s wallet’ ('portfel damski') in Poland, ‘gaming monitor’ ('gaming monitor') in the U.K., ‘bluetooth speaker’ ('bluetooth speaker') in Belgium, and ‘laptop’ ('laptop') in Nigeria.

And on the property front, the real estate category is also on the rise. Google Trends shows a particular increase in search interest for ‘house for sale’ in Belgium ('huis te koop') and France ('maison a vendre'), and ‘house to rent’ ('casas en alquiler') in Spain.

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Explore more consumer search behaviour trends

You can view all our recent trends analyses in our search insights collection. While we provide a regularly updated snapshot of consumer behaviour changes and trends 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. 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