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Google has some tips on how to cope with change in consumer behaviour

This is not news: people’s routines and life in general have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. As such, there has been a massive, sudden change in consumer behaviour. Some of us are working different hours, in different settings, some of us aren’t working at all – and we have all become completely dependent on our devices …  for everything, from communication to consumerism.

It should come as no surprise that these disruptions in working habits & social gatherings turned to distancing have been greatly affecting search trends too. So much so, that Google has published data on search trends they’ve been observing. In a recent post they revealed the top 5 topics in the change in consumer behaviour during the pandemic – and how brands can best navigate them. 

Now you might be wondering “how can I understand change in consumer behaviour and use this information in favour of my business”? Well, you came to the right place.

In order to understand change in consumer behaviour and effectively implement the necessary actions to your business strategy, you should first be aware of the importance of keywords. Your audience’s change in keyword usage (aka search trends) should play a big role in your future marketing strategy and brand positioning. 

In this article we’ll go over Google’s 5 published findings in search behaviour trends (as illustrated below) and insights on how to apply them to your business to help you stay ahead of the ever changing curve. The topics are divided as follows: Assembling critical information, discovering new connections, adjusting to changes in their routines, praising everyday heroes and taking care of themselves and others.

Screeenshot from Google's article on the latest changes in consumer behaviour.

So – let’s get started!

Assembling Critical Information

As we all know, the coronavirus outbreak has  created a “new normal”. The reality at the moment is that schools are currently closed, most of the workforce is staying home and most retailers have adapted to ecommerce models. 

This (not surprisingly) plays a role in the switch of most searched terms on Google. People seem to be looking for clear information on where/how/when they can get the things they might need/want. 

What does this mean for your business? Stay mindful of people’s needs. Search interest is spiking for the following topics: 

  • Retail
  • “Can you freeze” types of food
  • Home delivery 
  • Short term work employee 
  • Mortgage rate suspension

Creating informative content and anticipating consumers’ needs are ways in which businesses can reinforce their presence right now. 

From an SEO perspective, take this time to strengthen your use of structured data. By doing so, your target audience will to stay up to date with where/when/how to get a hold of you. This also helps search engines to better display your business information on the SERP.

To this end, some of Google’s additional recommendations include giving regular, updated and detailed information about operations; being flexible with cancellations/refunds; providing high-quality customer service. In other words, showing consumers that your business is here to help them through this difficult time. 

Discovering new connections and nurturing relationships

Ironically, the practice of social distancing has given people the need to connect and nurture relationships – both virtually and in their own households. 

A couple of ways in which this tendency manifests itself are through the rise in search for the following topics:

  • “With me” videos on Youtube (according to Google, videos containing “study with me” in the title are seeing an increase of 54% compared to one year ago). 
  • Multiplayer video games
  • Virtual happy hour

This could be an opportunity for your business to get closer to its target audience. Ask yourself this: Does your brand have a role in creating or enhancing shared experiences between people? (virtually or not). If so, now is the time to go for it! 
Explore ways in which your brand can be there for your consumer-base. Adjust your content marketing strategy. Empathetic messages go a long way, as we’ve seen in the example of IKEA’s latest campaign in which they reinforce the importance of connection. The video encourages people to use the time given to them right now as an opportunity to enjoy their family and home.

Adjusting to changes in their routines

People’s online habits are changing according to adjustments in their routines in order to meet the demands of isolation. This can be seen by the spike in search interest for topics such as “do it yourself” and workout routine related searches i.e. “stationary bicycles” & “skipping rope”. 

Another rising point of interest seems to be in watching others adapt to their new routines. One example of this being increase in viewers for late-night TV since the hosts began producing content from their homes.

Wondering what this might mean for your business? Well, Google’s recommendation is to adapt to people’s “non”routines. In other words, think about when people search for your service/product the most and adjust your communication strategy accordingly. This can be done via analytics, email opens or Google Trends.

Understanding the importance of micro moments plays an important role for most businesses. The average internet consumer is spending a considerably higher amount of time online.

On that note, you should also mind the demand for fresh & updated content – be that informative, entertaining, wellness related, etc. Now is the time to invest in high-quality content marketing!

Praising everyday heroes

From health care workers to supermarket cashiers –  essential workers deserve all the praise in the world. Those who often risk their own safety to help others are trending and rightfully so. This trend can be measured by the increase in search interest for the words “clap NHS workers” and “thank essential workers”. 

As a business, here’s Google’s advice for you: try and find ways to support and celebrate essential workers in your promotional content. Even if the “heroes” in this case are nonhuman – aka your technology, operational rigor or equipment.

 We should all take this opportunity to  express appreciation for those who are currently working in occupations with a higher exposure to the COVID-19 virus, while encouraging others to engage in self-isolation practices.

Taking care of themselves and others

There is only so much a person can do when confined to one space all the time. As such, there seems to be strengthening efforts towards self care and taking care physically & psychologically – for these reasons, searches related to the ease of boredom, anxiety and uncertainty are experiencing a considerable increase.

A couple examples of this are the rising interest in relaxation methods such as “meditation” and “puzzles” as well as “beyond the walls of home” experiences virtual tours of museums and even zoos.

When it comes to your business, it might be worthwhile to pivot to platforms and formats that make sense for people staying home while also taking part in the conversation about home-based health and well-being. If possible consider virtual collaborations with outdoor spaces or cultural institutions people might be interested in visiting (but can’t).

Conclusion

Keeping up with the latest changes in consumer behaviour is sure to help your own marketing strategy moving forward. In order to get ahead of your competition in the future, take this time to focus on adapting your business to the current setting. Learn about your audience and new channels & markets that might be worth switching to. 

Keep in mind: now is the best time to reevaluate your positioning, so that your business can easily navigate the crisis – and even grow from it!

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