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How Google is Helping Marketers Understand Rising Consumer Interests During COVID-19

Marketing

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Swimming pools, golf bag accessories, and trampolines took the leading spots as the most searched products in the U.S. in April.

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At the beginning of COVID-19, we saw an initial rush on sanitizers and toilet paper but this was only the beginning when it came to the major retail changes that would result from this domino effect.

With billions around the world forced to quarantine for the past few months, consumer activity has adapted even further — spikes in virtual education, upticks in sales of jigsaw puzzles, bread makers, hair care products as people take their self-care from the salons to their home. As we look ahead and see enforcements around social distancing ease, it’s become more apparent that while we may regain some semblance of normalcy, any patterns that held pre-COVID-19 are highly unlikely to remain unchanged.

Gathering deeper consumer insights

It’s impossible to know how exactly consumer behavior will evolve with the exception we can expect to need to adjust our strategies according to the shifts. Google is looking to make this transition for brands easier with a new “Rising Retail Categories” tool via Think with Google. In the official announcement the company explained that businesses are grasping onto whatever resources they can to gain insight to make decisions on the fly from Google Trends, social listening, surveys, and their own data but the efforts lack structure and concrete guidance.

“If they don’t know what to look for, there isn’t an easy way to understand which product categories are gaining in popularity, and might pose an opportunity.” Pallavi Naresh, Product Manager explained. Google’s move comes at a time several leading platforms are looking to support retailers including Pinterest, which recently launched an updated business community to facilitate a connection between business owners.

How it works

While you may wonder how this tool differs from the already-existing Google Trends, the new offering was designed to emphasize product searches gaining the most traction. This can fluctuate day to day or even on a monthly basis depending on the region and the government advice that applies to the specific location.

With the new tool, you can filter the data by category and country — U.S., U.K., and Australia to start — and time frame — weekly, monthly, or yearly. Once you’re in a designated category you can get even more granular and learn what people are searching for within that space. For instance, searches for “volleyball nets” have grown by 60 percent in the past week and under that, “crossnets” are of particular interest.

Taking a step back and reflecting on the month of April, swimming pools, golf bag accessories, and trampolines took the leading spots as the most searched products in the U.S. Only time will tell how this may shift into the summer months and again come the fall.

Looking ahead: the use cases

“Having information on the fastest-growing product categories from Google can have a big impact on multiple areas of marketing, particularly at the geographic level as states reopen at different paces,” Jim Leichenko, Director of Marketing and Media at Kantar, shared in a statement to Adweek.

In this effort, Google previewed data with a variety of businesses before an official rollout and saw several creative ideas ensue from having access to these evolving trends.

In one example, a cookware company noticed “flour” was a growing category in the U.S. so it teamed up with a well-known local chef to create content about recipes that incorporate the ingredient. In another, a jewelry and accessories company noted a growing interest in products falling under the “free weights” category. The team then made the decision to work with fitness influencers to promote their products authentically.

Finally, an apparel company with a “fast and flexible” production model is applying the information to inspire new product line ideas and inform what products are featured on its homepage throughout the pandemic. Aside from brand new product ideas, these insights can also enable product offering pivots where the product itself doesn’t change; just the angle in which it’s presented.

The future will be turbulent and as we move forward the “one size fits all” and “set it and forget” mentalities will unarguably do more harm than good. Having communities and the insights to propel us forward will be critical as we look to navigate the “new normal” in a post-COVID age.

You can check out Google’s ‘Rising retail Categories’ full listing here.

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