How Google Search reflects the change in consumer priorities during the Covid restrictions

Covid has not only precipitated a revolutionary change in day-to-day living, it’s also demolished traditional working practices. While consumers’ adaptations to this new lockdown landscape are evident in every household, Davies Hickman has conducted research using Google Trends to more precisely identify and characterise changing consumer habits from their online searches.

WFH: underpinned by digital adoption
WFH has recently joined the mainstream lexicon as the working population answers the call to isolate whenever possible. Video applications and programmes provide the best alternative to a physical presence as witnessed by the 1125% increase in internet searches for Zoom. Looking to the future and to a fully or hybrid digital world, organisations need to invest in protecting consumer data. In research we undertook for BT, CISOs under the Spotlight, only 16% of consumers surveyed globally trust organisations to protect their personal data. The WFH explosion has been accompanied by a surge in online retail searches for desks (+ 138%), bookcases (+ 79%) and garden offices (+158%). Although there is no proven correlation, previous Davies Hickman analysis into employees’ WFH preferences, supports the idea that executives have been busy reorganising their environment for successful digital meetings.

Consumer trends


Online retail surge: sourdough and sanders
Online retailers need to recognise new shopping patterns as new pastimes emerge. For instance, a wider interest in home cooking was reflected in the 121% increase in baking searches. However, the data suggests supermarket trips dropped because searches for click and collect grew by 1112%. Whether a consumer’s reasoning is ease or health protection, this interest is an indication of the increased acceptance of digitalisation in our everyday lives. Coupled with a 10% drop in credit card searches yet no change in contactless payment searches, retail banks need to consider the trends impacting banking apps and payment preferences.

DIY has also seen a surge, maybe as a pleasurable pastime or because cracks and blemishes become more evident with time spent at home. There was a 60% increase in DIY searches and by the more ambitious, or possibly those needing more home working space, a 70% increase in home extension searches. These emerging online trends signposting the retail future indicate it’s time to enhance customer experience in app retail to match the high level of personal service that customers have come to expect in-store.

Health: more online fitness
Finding alternatives to a temporarily banned fitness regime, improving health to minimise the impact of Covid or wanting to support mental well-being are reasonable explanations for the increase in active lifestyle searches. The 102% increase in Strava searches, 43% gain in cycling searches and a massive 553% increase in Joe Wicks searches reflect a growing responsibility for, and interest in, preventative personal health, trends that will impact the health insurance industry.

Consumers: jobs and finances
The financial implications of lockdown on consumers are varied. Whilst many are working from home, countless organisations have made redundancies and this sad fact is reflected in the increase in searches for Universal Credit, up 72%. Job security uncertainties and the possibility of a recession have contributed to a consumer confidence downturn and this is reflected in the unchanged number of searches for loans and mortgages.

Insight-led decisions
Davies Hickman offers organisations an in-depth understanding of their environment through insights, trends, trackers, barometers and visualisations. Using customer, employee or market research and working within a sound research framework, Davies Hickman provides businesses with the robust data they require to make the key decisions to get ahead. Organisations need to be decisive in these uncertain times and Davies Hickman continues to support them in this mission.