On March 14, we made an initial exploration of the impact of the Corona Pandemie on search behavior in the Netherlands. This was immediately after the Dutch government announced far-reaching measures in the evening on Thursday 12 March. On Friday, March 13, a decline in the search volume of about 15 to 20% was seen. However, there were also search volumes that rose. How is the situation now more than 10 days later?
The total ad-spend of Adchieve customers is increasing again. The spend is even higher than before March 13. The dotted line in the graph below is the spend in the same period last year. The blue line is the spend this year. Around March 13, the spend fell below last year’s level, before recovering. Trend-wise, the level is even higher than the period before March 13.
Within our portfolio, we can see large differences in the development in spend. The totals also include travel providers whose spend has gone completely to zero. So there are strong risers.
Initially we saw the following trends:
- There was a health peak; vitamins and all kinds of other health products were in great demand.
- Primary necessities of life were secured, we hoarded in the supermarket, but also bought bread makers, freezers and fryers.
- Workplaces at home had to be furnished with furniture, computers and cables.
- The travel industry almost came to a halt and other branches that were not top of mind – such as the clothing industry – fell sharply.
Primary matters: the peak has been reached
A number of product categories seem to have peaked in search demand. Especially when it comes to first needs that arose after March 12. Workplaces at home are furnished, the vitamin supplies supplemented.
Search query for: laptop (Source: Google Trends)
search query for: vitamins (Source: Google Trends)
Step back in time
It almost seems as if we step back in time. The peak in the supermarkets was greater than at Christmas. If we go further back in time we arrive at ‘Sinterklaas’, the time for gifts for children. Because, how do you keep your children and yourself busy these days? That’s probably why the search for playstations is still rising.
Search query for: playstation 4 (Source: Google Trends)
Impact on physical stores
The impact on the physical stores of the corona measures is enormous. Shops voluntarily close their doors and shops that are open receive far fewer visitors. Some branches may still be in a favorable category (such as DIY stores and garden centers), but most stores are faced with significant loss of turnover. The search volume of a typical offline store, like the ‘Action’ in the Netherlands, illustrates that.
Search query for: Action as store (Source: Google Trends)
Shift in demand and recovery online?
Clothing is not top of mind at this time. Turnover is falling. Physical retailers are left with their spring and summer collections. Search volumes in the clothing industry also fell sharply online, as shown in the 12-month image below.
Search query for: Clothes – 12 months (Source: Google Trends)
When we look at 12 months, this doesn’t look very favorable. When you zoom in on the most recent figures (last 30 days), online seems to have reached the trough, a slight recovery appears to be occurring. This may be because sentiment has improved a bit, but it may also be due to a shift in demand from offline to online. For pure players who only sell online, this is reassuring. But for a multi-channel player, not so much..
Search query for: clothes – 30 days (Source: Google Trends)
Delivery services are running at full speed
Life goes on and our daily routines change and adapt. We have food delivered at home. Other products and services that we use in our daily lives, which we previously would have bought in a store, are also ordered and delivered at home. Besides delivering food, delivery of flowers is also on the rise. Flowers for ourselves, but perhaps also from the care and attention for others.
Search query for: food delivery (Source: Google Trends)
Search query for: flower delivery (Bron: Google Trends)
E-commerce seems to be growing in width at this stage. However, there are still major differences between industries. Consumer needs seem to be shifting somewhat from immediate crisis needs to those that arise from being at home.
In general, pure players – which are in the industries with growing demand – will benefit the most. For omni-channel providers, it is often only a small compensation for the loss of demand in physical stores. Besides the travel industry, these are also difficult times for the clothing industry.
The figures shown, are figures based on the search behavior in the Netherlands.