Rahul Sachitanand
Jan 22, 2021

Five takeaways for brands in 2021 from Google's year in search report

From a renewed focus on CSR to enhanced interest in D&I, the tech giant's study offers insights for marketers tapping changing social currents.

Five takeaways for brands in 2021 from Google's year in search report

In a year where social unrest fuelled by movements such as Black Lives Matter collided with a global COVID-19 pandemic that has made some 96 people ill and taken two million lives, people worldwide are spending more time re-evaulating their priorities. In a year of flux, tech giant Google has released its first APAC-wide Year In Search report looking at key search results, identifying five consumer trends brands need to know heading into 2021.

Here's a primer for trends marketers need to track in 2021: 

1. Aid individual development: Consumers naturally looked after their individual needs in APAC, in a challenging year. Google says Philippines, India, Singapore, and Indonesia all saw over 40% growth in mental health-related searches like "how to take care of mental health", "mental health tips", and "mental health test". In addition, people are focused on needs of very specific sets of people--+2200% YoY growth in searches for "employing people with disabilities" (Australia). For brands, this means, an enhanced focus on diversity and inclusion, with marketers expected to provide authentic help to consumers in need. 

2. Purpose matters: In a year when home-bound consumers considered and re-considered their choices and impact on the environment, brands need to think beyond boiler-plate CSR initiatives and support communities and take actions to integrate sustainability into their business. Consider the surge in searches: 1000% in searches for "eco-friendly masks" in Taiwan (環保 口罩) or +2000% in searches for "find volunteer activities" (봉사 활동 찾기) over two years in South Korea. 

3. Look beyond core consumer indentities: For much of 2020, people spent their work day and personal time stuck at home. As this played out, lines blurred between work and play for people, and they're looking to have more specific needs met at any one time (+130% in searches for "kids at home"-related activities in Australia). As innovations in one industry (on-demand taxis) can drive expectations in another (laundry), the burden is on brands, not consumers, to keep up. At the home-office, efficiency seems to have become a priority with a rise in searches on 'how to be productive'.  Meanwhile, personal beliefs and preferences are driving more buying decisions across the region. (like +30% for halal-related searches in Vietnam). 

4. Pursuit of happiness: Brands that surprise and delight can reap the rewards of consumer love –especially when they do it with empathy for people's unique experiences and challenges. In the challenging time of living and surviving in a pandemic, consumers especially welcome brands that spark joy in their lives. For instance, there was a +1900% in surge for searches for “staycation” (Hong Kong), as residents looked for more ways to unwind, while social distancing prompted people to find new ways to bond--+95% in searches for "balloon delivery."

5. Future-proof your straategy: As vaccinations numbers start growing, people are already beginning to dream of a post-Covid world and brands can help them better prepare for this time. As they prepare for the fog of this pandemic to lift, people are boosting their skills (+400% in searches for "fundamentals of digital marketing" India) and paying more attention to their health (+160% in searches for "maintain health" or menjaga kesehatan in Indonesia), and brands need to adopt a forward-thinking mentality in 2021 to ride these currents. 


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