Google Expects Quarantine Consumer Trends to Outlast Stay-at-Home Measures

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A new report from Google is attempting to make sense of how consumer habits and trends have shifted since the novel coronavirus quarantine took effect and which of these changes have the potential to become part of a new normal in the longer term.

Data from search and other Google-owned channels showed many of the marked shifts you might expect from people cooped up in their homes, such as more interest in cooking, DIY crafts and far less regimented daily schedules. But Google’s vice president of global ads and marketing Marie Gulin-Merle said that some of these trends toward home-centric living had been taking root even before the onset of the pandemic and could be a sign of a broader shift that Covid-19 accelerated.

“We were already observing what we’ve described as ‘home centricity,’” Gulin-Merle said in an email to Adweek. “People are looking for flexibility and a better quality of life—often that means eliminating a long commute. And with more people spending more time at home, shopping patterns had already started shifting.”

That change could be seen in the growth of search terms like “remote jobs,” which has increased 210% in the past two years, or “grocery delivery,” which has seen a 130% boost in the same period.

Google also expects that many of the DIY skills that people have picked up or more convenient purchasing methods they’ve adopted out of necessity could end up having a long-term effect on how consumers shop.

“In the last few months, people created new habits and mastered new skills. Maybe while you’ve been home, you mastered your favorite coffee drink or maybe you were forced to use YouTube videos to figure out how to fix your microwave,” said Gulin-Merle. “And maybe during these last few months, you ordered groceries online for the first time and realized how easy and convenient it is. You probably tried out some new brands because your favorite brand wasn’t available or had a long wait to ship.”

Google also launched tools last month meant to help marketers better stay ahead with fast-changing behavioral trends, including a Rising Retail Categories dashboard that tracks the prevalence of mentions of products in real time.

The patterns in the search giant’s data also show a set of phases similar to those seen in data on social ads and audio listening as people adjusted to quarantine measures: first, a sense of emergency and a demand for quality information, then a turn toward relief in the form of escapism and humor and, finally, a more long-lasting focus on productivity and ways to occupy time inside the home.

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