When in doubt, where do we go? If we have a burning question, or a sudden desire, who do we ask? As my beloved Granny said, when I asked for some gardening advice, ‘Just Google it!’
Since lockdown began on the 23rd March 2020, the UK’s been stuck at home with only thoughts, restless activity, and shaggy hair for company. As a result, we thought we’d have a look at some of the things people have been searching for while stuck at home. So here it is: the Google search trends that are marking this unprecedented* time.
All graphs were taken from Google Trends, with the date range 1st Jan 2020 – 27th April 2020.
How to cut your own hair
This trend is hardly a surprise, based on the number of partner/flatmate/family barber boomerangs doing the rounds. Having had a semi-serious chat about hairdressing skills with my fast-disappearing-behind-his-fringe partner, I think I too will be joining those hastily searching for dummies’ tutorials while wielding the clippers!
Opportunities for brands: this one’s pretty obvious – if you’re a hairdresser or barber, have you considered tutorials? Even if they’re simply posted via Instagram stories, some handy tips and tricks will go down well with your followers. Plus, if they mess it up, they’ll be running to your salon with a new appreciation once lockdown is over, begging you to sort it out.
Similarly, not much of a surprise here to see an increase in searches for online yoga. Alongside our lack of access to gym classes are feelings of anxiety, which many are hoping to ease with meditation and yoga at home. The likes of Calm and Headspace are also offering free meditation tracks and sessions.
This is excellent. Peaking on the 24th March, the day after Boris announced full lockdown for the UK, it seems many of us looked straight to our wine racks…our empty wine racks! Damn – if we can’t go to the wine, can the wine come to us?
Opportunities for brands: Pre-lockdown, I think it’s safe to say the idea of having wine delivered wasn’t top of many people’s minds. So this just shows what surprising new opportunities are cropping up. Whether you sell wine or IT support, perhaps it’s worth thinking about new ways you can help your customers. Brainstorm around the ‘new normal’ (ugh what a phrase) to consider how their lives may have been affected. What can your business offer to make their day a little easier?
From zero to hero. When we talk about companies that are profiting from this pandemic, Zoom looks to have done incredibly well. But, with skyrocketing demand comes increased scrutiny, which leads us on to the next search.
Is zoom secure?
This search peaked on the 1st April, the very day the BBC published its article on Zoom’s security and privacy measures. Interestingly, as this story progressed, the number of searches for ‘is zoom secure’ dropped, while searches for ‘zoom’ continue to increase. It seems convenience once again outweighs data concerns.
Buy toilet roll online
That was a strange week, wasn’t it? Enough said, I think.
How to make bread
Not long after loo roll-gate, the great flour crisis of lockdown began. Many who don’t usually have the time to bake rolled up their sleeves and switched on the oven. The simplest of joys, the streets are surely wafting with the smell of fresh bread (shame we can’t get outside to check).
Bread without yeast
But, our newfound craving for the crust has left supermarkets without both flour and yeast for a number of weeks now. Those that managed to source flour took to the search engines to look for bread recipes that don’t require yeast…
This then resulted in the rise (excuse the pun) of the sourdough. I would say probably 50% of what I’m seeing on Instagram at the moment is sourdough-related, which I’m not complaining about. Give me a rugged golden crust over a selfie any day!
Opportunities for brands: It seems that while the UK produces plenty of flour, the majority goes to bakeries in sacks. Before lockdown, just 4% of UK flour was purchased by consumers, meaning the unparalleled increase in demand has left the mills unable to keep up. We’ve been seeing local farm shops divvying up large sacks of flour into paper or food bags to sell on to consumers. As long as the mills are happy with this arrangement, this is a smart way to shift stock and keep customers happy.
Because we’ve all got enough going on without thinking about fasting. And we’ve baked a ridiculous amount of bread and need to eat it.
Date night at home
This is a sweet one. While searches for ‘how to propose at home’ and the like remain low (watch this space – we called it!), couples cooped up at home are finding ways to get date night in without needing to leave their four walls.
Opportunities for brands: Has your brand any romantic or fun ideas for a date night at home to share? Therapists could offer massage tips for a thoughtful date night, while food magazines or blogs could provide themed menus (I surprised my partner with Caribbean night on Saturday, as his trip to Antigua was cancelled). Interestingly, the majority of those peaks fall on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. We might suggest publishing the ideas on the weekend, and promoting across social media throughout the week to target those looking for last-minute tips pre-hump day.
How can I help the NHS
And among the bread baking, the virtual quizzes and the bowl cuts, people are rising to the challenge. Much has been said of the overwhelmingly positive community spirit that has awoken. And searches reflect the nation’s appetite for wanting to help.
From simply not knowing how to help, to dusting off the old sewing machine to make scrubs for hospitals, and fundraising during our daily exercise time, the UK is pulling together.
It’s apt, I think that I end here, at five minutes to 11:00 on 28th April, to observe the minute’s silence to honour the NHS and care staff who lost their lives fighting COVID-19. Here’s to them, to their families, and to the UK as a whole. We’re doing what we can to come out of this stronger. And we’re Googling everything else.