There’s a lot going on right now. As digital marketing nerds, we were wondering if we could get a better understanding of what’s going on using data. What have people been searching for online during lockdown, and what might that mean?
We turned to Google Trends, a free tool that shows you the relative popularity of search terms over time. The results were really interesting.
The most obvious change we’ve seen is things that were previously face-to-face moving online.
To be fair, this one isn’t a huge surprise. But just look at the uplift in searches for ‘virtual meetings’ in mid-March. It’ll be interesting to see how much of that lingers over time. Will out business habits be changed forever?
It's not just meetings that have shifted to the online sphere – dating has as well. People are still looking for a connection, but as they can’t leave the house, the actual date has to be in cyberspace. Note that searches for ‘online dating’ haven’t changed much. That’s always been a thing. But moving the actual date online is certainly a change.
Business and dating aren’t the only sphere affected by the lockdown – spiritual and community life is affected too. We’ve seen big increase in searches for ‘virtual church’ – beating the previous peak over Christmas.
We also looked at ‘virtual mosque’ and ‘virtual synagogue’, but the data was less clear.
Bringing the family together
Entertainment is another area where there are some interesting trends – especially things that can be done at home with family.
If you’ve got time on your hands, a good jigsaw can be a great way to unwind (assuming there isn’t a piece missing). A lot of people in the UK seem to agree, because there’s been a huge uplift in searches.
It’s worth mentioning that some of these could be for the power tool of the same name, and DIY has been popular lately too, but the majority of these searches are probably for puzzles.
Usually most popular over Christmas, Monopoly has seen a big resurgence lately. It’d be interesting to know if people are taking it as seriously as they sometimes do...
Easily one of the strongest trends we’ve seen, the humble pub quiz has been immensely popular. It’s a great way to get the family together, after all. Searches are waning, although it’s possible that’s because people are turning straight to YouTube now, rather than Google.
It’s a hard time for many, so it’s no surprise people are looking for a bit of comfort.
Our old friend chocolate is especially popular this year, with a higher-than-normal Easter peak that’s stayed high for longer afterwards. I think a few of us have put on a few pounds of late…
Baked goods are another home comfort people have been longing for, particularly with bread sometimes hard to find in shops. We’ve heard sourdough mentioned a lot recently, and the data certain shows a strong trend.
Now this is an interesting one. Are people looking for cute YouTube videos, or do they want to buy actual puppies? Probably both. If you are thinking of getting a pet at the minute, think it through. You won’t always be at home! A dog is for life, not just for lockdown.
With nowhere to go, many are turning to home improvements during lockdown. Hot tubs are just one example. Ponds, barbeques, new sheds… there’ve all been on the up over the last few months.
For some, prayer is another source of comfort. It’s interesting (and saddening) to see the graph here peak at around the same time COVID-19 deaths peaked in the UK – in mid to late April.
Another key trend is that people are looking to take up new hobbies, learn new skills and generally make the most of their new found free time.
How to knit
Something that may relate to clothes shops being closed as well as learning a new skill, is knitting. There was certainly a peak in search interest in April, although things have fallen away now the weather’s getting warmer.
Gyms being closed and the need to stay at home mean more people are training using bodyweight exercises, free weights or whatever they’ve got lying around the house!
Searches fell quite rapidly after the peak at the end of March. Maybe users found routines they’ve been doing ever since, or perhaps some lost motivation as time went on?
Some skills were learned not by choice, but by necessity. Take homeschooling for example – many parents were looking for information on this back in March.
On a more sinister note…
Of course, not everything people have been searching for is wholesome and uplifting. Parallels with Christmas can be seen again as families spend more time together at home. This can put strain on even the strongest of relationships.
Get away with murder
This graph either means more people started writing crime thrillers in mid-May, or more people fantasised about killing someone. Christmas still reigns supreme for this particular term though. And now lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, the numbers have dropped again. I suppose that’s reassuring…
Things are changing
As COVID-19 restrictions start to be lifted, it’s likely our Google habits will start changing again. In some ways, they already are.
Black Lives Matter
Obviously COVID-19 isn’t the only thing going on right now, and it would be remiss of us not to mention #BlackLivesMatter. It’s a cause we heartily support. We stand against racism in all its forms.
As restrictions are starting to ease and we move into summer, British people are starting to think about things they can do and places they can go. That’s why ‘beauty spots’ suddenly become more widely searched at the end of May.
Google Trends is a fun tool to try out. If you find any other interesting trends, let us know!
Data source: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).
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