During these unprecedented times, digital dependence among Indians has grown exponentially. Netizens are utilising their time and going digital to binge-watch, read, learn and seek ideas on how they can stay productive indoors. To help brands unravel the mystery of what their target audience is looking into and help them understand the potent implication from search trends, Google India has released its report What is India search for: Insights for Brands Report.
Sapna Chadha, Senior Country Marketing Director, Google India and Southeast Asia at Google, said, “As people are jolted out of their routines and forced to reevaluate decisions that previously required little to no thought, we see dramatic shifts in how people search and what they care about. The report provides early insights on how people’s needs and behaviours might evolve as they seek to regain a sense of balance. Some of the trends are likely temporary, but as people are forced to adopt new behaviours, they may begin to see the value of sticking with them even after the pandemic is over. And one can clearly see a pattern that demonstrates an evolution in behaviour that was already taking place and is accelerated by the crisis. We hope these insights will help marketers find the answers to what’s important here now and what is here to stay.”
The report highlights top five consumer trends and corresponding findings under each of these:
1. Always-on: Lifeline, not a distraction:
“Always-on search” has become an established habit for Indian consumers. Closure of malls and unavailability of ration delivery has pushed consumers to look for chemists and kirana stores around their geographical locations. Owing to this, “near me” searches have seen a massive uptick since March 2020. Queries like “pharmacy near me” (+58%), “grocery delivery near me” (+550%), “ration dukaan” (+300%), and “vet doctor near me” (+60%) have become increasingly common. Another interesting finding was that even in the wake of COVID-19, consumers are looking for “the best” of whatever they need and business that can help them find it. “Best” searches, which have consistently seen high growth in India, continue to see a sharp rise despite the current scenario. While 2019 saw a significant jump in queries like “best headset” (+140%), “best/top 2W insurance” (+116%), and “best mattress” (+150%), “best” searches in 2020 have adjusted to the idea of limited mobility. They include queries like “best movies” (+35%) on YouTube and “Best trading platforms” (+45%).
2. Power to know more:
From due diligence to understanding how things work, Indians are coming online to enrich their knowledge base, enhance their skill levels, and seek validation for their purchasing decisions. Consumers are vigorously searching responses to questions like “gym at home” (+93%), “5 minute recipes” (+56%) as well as searches related to advanced skill sets like “machine learning” (3X) and “data science” (3X). With a majority of users being homebound, there has also been high growth in queries like “learn online” (+85%), “teach online” (+148%), and “at-home learning” (78%). Queries in health category have recently pivoted toward “immunity” (+500%). Searches for vitamin C, which grew by 40% in 2019, have surged by over 150% in recent weeks, as have queries for herbs with medicinal properties like “गिलोय” (Giloy) (+380%) and Ayurvedic home remedies like “काढ़ा” (Kadha) (+90%).
3. Optimise, personalise and humanise:
Despite the unprecedented scenarios, consumers continue to project that they want multi-moment brands to understand their likes, dislikes, and interests based on their online footprints. In fact, 1 out of every 2 consumers is seeking personalised information from brands by searching for queries like “how to homeschool kids” and “how to WFH”. Well, while custom goods seem to have seen a slight dip, personalisation is clearly here to stay.
4. Tap and Transact:
With social distant lifestyle becoming the new normal, cash transactions are taking a backseat. Queries like "How to pay electric bill online" (+180%) and “बिजली बिल चेक” (electricity bill check) (+80%) are seeing an uptick. Growth of searches like “overnight mutual funds” (411%) and “mutual funds to invest now” (249%) also shows that many consumers are now relying on online resources to take care of their long- and short-term financial goals.
5. Anything, anywhere, anytime-on demand:
Indians, especially the young, are increasingly seeking to move toward a hassle-free and convenient lifestyle with the help of on-demand services. This changing mindset is driven by a very simple logic: “If I can get a cab or pizza on demand, then why not everything else?” This new development is evidenced by the growth in searches for “consult doctor online” (+60%), “collaborative software” (+40%), and “free video dating” (+70%). The demand for such near-instant gratification has, in fact, led a lot of traditional businesses to pivot to digital to meet people’s evolving needs. A core element of on-demand gratification has been video.