What were Consumers Searching on Google during COVID-19 ?

Google the Largest Consumer Internet engagement Platform has assigned three labels to display the Indian consumers behavior in the COVID-19 Pandemic.

  • The Shock – new, sudden changes in top of mind concerns,
  • Small Change – some equanimity in accepting the new normal and
  • Speed up – an acceleration of nascent trends

The Shock En masse, Indian web consumers went from their regular searches to searches related to the Chinese virus – all about it, and how to beat it. Massive surges were seen in searches for sanitizers, masks and soon, immunity boosters. With sanitizing becoming a compulsion, cleaning products also came center stage. Consumers were lapping everything on these subjects they could find. The early days were dominated by searches related to lockdowns, essential products and services, all such underlined by deep anxiety. Do It Yourself (DIY) arrived in India with householders seeking how-to information on everything from beauty tips to cutting hair. Home baking took off and consumers grappled to cook their own food in the absence of takeaways or their usual hired help.

Small ChangeAcross India, search patterns suggested that consumers had stopped holding their breaths for the crisis to pass and begun looking at social distancing / lockdowns / school / work from home and implications on domestic life as the new normal. Online education saw a significant jump as parents looked for ways to keep their children meaningfully occupied and teachers had to learn to teach online. Digital leisure saw massive new demand, online gaming has grown dramatically with games like rummy, poker and Ludo the fastest growing in India.

Shopping for essentials saw two key trends, buying online and buying super local. The challenge for marketers with online ordering taking off, and kirana stores figuring out how to do business aided by consumer discovery. Searches for ‘stores near me’ have compelled traditional omni channels like Star Bazaar and Food Bazaar to launch online models. Purchase research saw a meaningful shift, with online comparison shopping and value-shopping now a common trend.

Speed-Up The amount of time consumers spend online moved from 3hrs 22 mins, pre-Covid, to 3 hrs 54 mins at its peak, now settling at 3 hrs 37 mins. Spike in the time people are spending on their smartphones to continue beyond the current compulsions. There is a massive increase in content consumption, and the significant traction in online video in particular. Many behaviors with reference to digital media and services that were earlier occasional or barely there saw a sudden jump, including online payments and banking. Customers are also now more inclined towards paying for some online content they consume – these behaviors will only accelerate in value and volume. Work from home is pushing up demand for computers, home/kitchen appliances, comfort wear. Certain new behaviors, like the demand for online certifications (like Udemy) are trends that are likely to outlast this phase.

Credit: Kotak Virtual Consumer Forum.