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The Impact of The Coronavirus on Search Trends


Blog Article
The Coronavirus has changed the lives of people around the globe including their consumption and shopping behaviours. In the new age of social distancing and restrictions, the customers’ needs are also evolving with it.

The combination of restrictions and customer needs have meant that online services and business are one of the markets that have been impacted the most. For brands who are ready to adapt to these new circumstances, this presents an opportunity to come out of these difficult times stronger.

We wanted to analyse the extent to which the Coronavirus has impacted search behaviour across markets and to do this we analysed search terms across different markets. This helped us to identify trends within these industries. Brands can use this information to learn more about their consumers’ search behaviours and use the insights to optimise their online strategies.

Methodology of our Analysis

It was crucial for us to get an accurate view of the industry and to ensure we not only analysed a high volume of keywords, but we also analysed a wide variety of terms within each market. These terms included general search terms, e.g. “cars for sale”, brand-specific terms such as “skyscanner” and industry-specific terms such as “jeans”. This gave us a more accurate representation of the search trends, across all of these main types of search terms.

Once we had accumulated a comprehensive list of keywords and grouped them into the different category of keywords, we had to use Google Trends to get the search interest data for each individual keyword. As Google trends do not allow a bulk report, we created a script on Python which will collect the search interest data for each individual search term in bulk. This allowed us to map an average for the different types of terms within the different markets and identify any trends.

View our SlideShare on the impact of the Coronavirus on the search trends below.

The Impact of the Coronavirus on Search Trends

The Automotive Industry

The first impression of the search interest within the automotive industry is not a positive one. However, when you analyse in detail what the numbers are telling you; there is plenty of insights to take into consideration.

The first insight of note was can see is that online automotive brands, such as car dealership marketplaces and comparison websites experienced the lowest drop in search interest and was the first type of search term to start its recovery. This suggests that even though car sales have plummeted, customers are still interested and keen in identifying the best deals available to them. The data shows that people are still searching online to find and compare car deals to purchase once lockdown is lifted.

Therefore, it is key for dealerships to prepare for future demand by ensuring their website are the first to appear in the customer’s information search queries. Customers are using the internet to research cars more than ever before according to Google, and a great way of attracting your customers is by adopting the methods taken by the online automotive brands. Websites such as Auto Trader and Car Wow are some of the brands that are still attracting the most search interest and this can be credited due to their engaging content which can customers can trust. These brands have built a strong online presence allowing it to be the first destination of choice for the customers who are in the information search stage of the purchasing funnel.

Stats showing how consumer research cars

Dealerships should also aim to build their online presence to adapt effectively during these troublesome. One of the ways they can do this is by having a video marketing channel, which according to Google is one of the important channels for automotive brands. At a time when test drive and dealership visits are not possible; having video tours as an alternative to test drives is the next best option and is one of the most effective ways of keeping your customers engaged with your brand.

A social media presence is also key during the Coronavirus pandemic as this is one of the most effective channels to quickly communicate and show empathy to your customers. In a constantly changing environment, it is crucial to keep your customers informed and provide any support possible, and as workers are unable to work from offices, a social media presence is one of the best ways to enable this. Reviews are also a major factor which influences the customer’s decision-making process on their search for a new car. Websites can boast reviews from independent experts or other buyers which will give the user a helpful insight into the car, increasing the trustworthiness of the website.

The Fashion Industry

TFrom the search interest graph, we could clearly see a dip in the search interest as the nation went into lockdown and an increase in search interest as the population became accustomed to the new circumstance. Using this we were able to map out a timeline of the consumer behaviour in the fashion industry. As the lockdown hit, people prioritised buying essential supplies such as food and toiletries, which led to a significant drop in the search interest.

Timeliness of fashion consumers behaviours

However, as stores were forced to close down and the fear of not having enough food and supplies subsided, the search interest saw a clear spike in search interest. This incline in search interest has continued to rise since the end of March which represent a great opportunity for fashion brands. The data suggests that customers are not only searching for fashion but are converting too.

In order to successfully capitalise on the increase in search interest and demand, online fashion brands have to ensure that they offer a seamless experience on their website. Customers must be encouraged as much as possible to shop online and this means that you have to provide them with the best experience as possible. This includes relaxing returns policies to reassure customers who may be reluctant to purchase and creating better guides to address fears for those who are unsure if the clothes will fit them.

Safety is one of the most factors, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, and this means that addressing the safety of the customers and the workers is of paramount importance. Google Shopping has also just become free for all merchants to use and this presents a great opportunity for fashion retailers to take advantage of this platform and increase their reach. To learn more about this exciting update, read our Google Shopping blog now.

Travel Industry

The travel industry has seen the biggest hit in terms of impact by the Coronavirus due to lockdowns and travel bans. Other than the sudden spike in airline brand terms due to customers looking to learn the status of their booked flights, this impact was also evident in the search interest data. However, looking into data available we can see that it is not all doom and gloom for the travel industry. Customers are still keen to travel especially as they have not been able to this year and they are looking to travel in late 2020 or early 2021. As customers are still looking to travel at a later date, it is essential for travel brands to be proactive and target this future demand.

Future Demand for Travel Consumers

An obvious way to do is this by offering great deals and offers for departure in late 2021 or early 2021. You can also have relaxed cancellation fees and policies to reassure your customers. Brands such as EasyJet have already started doing this as “winter deals” and this is an effective way of enticing customers to making an early booking for a later departure date. As the travel industry is one of the most impacted, it is also one of the most volatile.

Therefore, it is essential to keep your customers informed with the up to date updates and reassure the customers their safety. Due to restrictions, the majority of the potential customers are in the “daydreaming” phase where they are keen to go on holiday and are looking at potential destinations but are not looking to book yet. A great way to target these customers is through engaging content which will persuade the customers into not just look through deals but to convert and make the booking.

Home Retail Industry

The search interest in the home retail has seen a steady incline in search interest across the board and as people are spending more time in their homes, data suggests that people are gardening, working on their homes and buying indoor furniture. This suggests that there is a clear opportunity for home retail brands to take advantage of.

Data Showing Behaviour in Home Retail

The brands’ responses seem to be dependent on if they are purely an online shop or if they have a physical store, with online shops looking to entice customers through deals and assuring safe delivery. Meanwhile, brands with physical stores want to reassure customers that it is safe to visit the stores as they are taking the necessary precautions.

For home retail brands looking to take advantage of the increase in search interest and demand, following a similar strategy is key. Customers have to be ensured of their safety and keeping them informed on the precautions you are taking to enable safe delivery is key to do this. For retailers who are able to deliver quickly, then you should advertise this as one of your competitive advantages as well. To best take advantage of the increase in search interest and demand, it is crucial to have an effective digital marketing strategy. This will increase your visibility to your customers and help to improve your reach.

Home Fitness Industry

In the fitness industry, the type of search terms which saw the biggest increase in search interest were searches for the specific workouts which people can do. The search interest has also remained high for almost 2 months since lockdown which could signal a change in the way people approach home fitness and fitness in general. We found that this spike in interest could be due to a whole variety of reasons; form encouragement from the media, free workout classes and people using exercise as a coping mechanism during the lockdown.

Home fitness demand increase

The rise in people searching for workouts to do suggests that they are looking for information from experts online to help and guide them. This presents a great opportunity for fitness brands to attract customers who can go onto converting on their website. By providing informative and engaging content through video marketing, blogs and their social media presence, these brands can appear in the information search queries and become a trusted fitness brand.

Once the customers land on your website, it is crucial to encourage your visitors to purchase your product. This can be done by highlighting how your product can help the customers in their journey in your content. It is also important to link to your products through CTAs so that your customers can quickly and easily find products related to them.

Home Entertainment Industry

As people spend more time at home looking for ways to keep entertained, the 73% increase in search interest for streaming service and the 51% increase in consumption of streaming service comes as no surprise. There has also been an increase in searches for movie and tv show recommendations. This has led to the home entertainment industry being severely impacted.

Coronavirus Home Streaming Impact

For streaming sites, account sign-ups have been much higher than expected, with Netflix having more than double the number of signs up than forecasted. Streaming sites have responded by continuing to release new and original content on their sites, further driving the demand for them. However, the unprecedented levels of streaming have led to steaming sites having to reduce the quality of their content as the internet has been struggling to cope with the high demand whilst still providing the best quality available.

The Coronavirus has impacted every market, with some being affected worse than others. However, the data suggest that some markets are able to take advantage of this opportunity and even the industries that have been the worst hit, have a light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to. With consumers spending more of their time online than ever before, an effective and engaging digital presence is crucial in order to adapt to the new environment.

Failure to adapt could risk brands being left behind by their competitors and potentially going out of business. However, take advantage of the opportunities that arise could lead to them gaining a competitive advantage and coming out of these troublesome times stronger than before.

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