COVID19: Lessons from Google Search Trends for brands

By Faysal Dalel, Commtractor and accomplished Performance Digital Marketing and Communications professional with 12 years of demonstrated success in developing and implementing strategies to drive market growth and bottom-line profitability. He is also the founder & director of Dynamic Digital.

Let’s be honest, it’s very grim out there. I’m feeling claustrophobic. Being cooped up indoors with loved ones is driving me mental. And to top it all off ‘Rona’ – aka COVID19 – is broadcast on every communication platform, hourly!

COVID19 Search trends

So, Rona has taken hold, wreaking havoc around the globe and we’re all unsure how to deal with it. No more party invites, beach holidays, retail therapy, or coffee catchups – trips to Waitrose or Woolworths are now considered a highlight.

But what can advertisers and brands do? The answer is simple.

Help people find what truly matters to them at any moment and solve their needs, which is what we do as marketers – understand how customers are searching, what they’re searching for, and why.

And there is no better source for that insight than Google Search Trends. 

Current situation

In 2020, marketers are facing new challenges across all sectors, and thus it’s important to gain a deeper understanding of why people are searching, by exploring Search trends to create tailored experiences that are authentic.

With millions now working from home out of necessity, consumers’ decisions about what time of day to shop, what to browse for, what to watch, read and listen to will change drastically as people establish new norms and form new habits.

Immediate shifts

In the earlier days of the pandemic, we are seeing that the priority for people was to create a comfortable working space in their homes. They valued messaging containing accurate information and worried less about the speed of service or the quality of products.

In South Africa for example, there was increased search interest for ‘essential services’ (‘essential services’), and in Turkey for (‘is it open’).

Google search trends

Google Trends insights reveal the searches people make to fill COVID19 information gaps. Their questions sought immediate answers and solutions, reflecting the uncertainties of their new situation.

New day-to-day emerging behaviours

Even though the COVID19 situation was evolving very quickly, consumers proved equally fast to adapt, researching ways to fit life around changing circumstances.

There has been an increase in search interest for (‘board games’) and (‘puzzles’), in Italy, Spain, and Denmark and an increase in (‘professional development’) in Saudi Arabia as people try to keep themselves busy and their minds active, while self-isolating.

Google search trends

People were also finding new ways to maintain social connections and recreating communities online as shown by an increase in searches for play with friends’ (‘play with friends’) in the UAE and for ‘party app’ (‘party app’) in Nigeria. (1)

Google search trends

As people adapted to their new circumstances, there has been an increase in ways to connect with the outside world virtually as shown by an increase in search interest in VR (‘virtual reality headset’) in Sweden.

Whereas in Spain, the U.K., and Italy, there has been an increase in interest for technology that can help people spend their time in interesting ways at home with increased searches for ‘smart TV’ (‘smart tv’). (1)

Google search trends

In the midst of all these growing searches that help people adapt to their new ways of living, there has also been considerations for the wider community, by celebrating the efforts of health workers and helping people in need.

In the U.K. (‘clap for‘) saw an increase in searches, as people applauded health workers as well as an increase in (‘how to volunteer for‘), while we saw an in increase in interest to help farmers find people workers in France (‘des bras pour ton assiette’). (1)

Google search trends

Leading with trust

During these unusual times, brands need to be especially transparent in their communications, showing an ability to address the real challenges facing people’s lives. Fortunately, some businesses were doing so – being helpful and talking directly with people – showing a level of corporate responsibility.

In Conclusion…

As consumers re-evaluate what’s important to their lives in a pandemic – what is of real value and what is the best way to navigate new ways of working, shopping, and connecting – brands and advertisers, too, must re-evaluate their understanding of consumer behaviour.

Ultimately, brands need to make themselves helpful to consumers, meeting their needs as they adapt to the “new norm”. Brands must process these changes to people’s personal and professional lives.

Communications must be authentic and compassionate to reflect the palpable sense of solidarity – the ‘we are in this together’ that is so visible and vital and in everyday life right now.

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