From adapting to the abrupt constraints imposed by the outbreak of COVID-19 for maintaining continuity in how Indians lived, learned, shopped, and worked, today they have become adept at leveraging internet access to make more informed choices and better decisions, and seek support for their hybrid lifestyles, reveals Google annual Year in Search report for 2021. The accelerated expansion of the internet user base in India over the past two years has also led to millions of new Google searches per day across user segments, channels, and needs making Search a key touchpoint for relevant and helpful information.
Launching the report, Sapna Chadha, Vice President, Marketing, Google India & Southeast Asia, said, “This year’s report is headlined by a surge in searches across a spectrum of existing and emerging trends and provides a unique insight into the connected Indian’s preference for a digital-first life. As people become increasingly adept online, Search has become their ‘go-to’ for making sense of a hybrid world in which more and more services and solutions are also now online. Businesses will need to take a proactive role in responding to this consumer transition that’s well underway by providing seamless paths to purchase across online and otherwise. Along with convenience, brands will need to continuously build trust and confidence amongst their consumers as they make more choices and decisions online.”
Deepening use of digital for hybrid lifestyles
With intermittent mobility, the year saw an acceptance of a blended lifestyle with an approximately 350% growth in interest in “hybrid workplace” alongside an ~80% increase in “online doctor consultation”. Increasing user comfort with online commerce has led to a record ~533% growth in search interest for “D2C brands” and a ~55% increase in “virtual try on”.
Making more informed choices through Search
As people increase their reliance on the internet for navigating a blended life, they are also proactively seeking reassurance on the torrent of information they access, and becoming more conscious about online safety in 2021. This is evident in an ~80% increase in searches for “is it true” on various aspects of fact-checking, misinformation and fake news in 2021. In addition, there is an increasing interest in privacy with a ~27% increase in these searches, higher than APAC growth of ~20%. With many more brands and businesses selling products online as part of the omni channel push, people are also extending their demand for authenticity across their purchase journey with an ~80% growth in searches for a “brand’s official store”, ~38% growth in search interest in “trusted website” and a ~41% increase in search interest in “which brand is good” as people looked to build their consideration set for brands.
New priorities for a hybrid life
The past year also saw a reexamination of lifestyle choices with people further prioritizing quality time, family ties, and overall health and wellness. Interest in health insurance for family grew by ~44%. Beyond the need for financial protection, 2021’s Year in Search report also signals that people are broadening their interest in wellness to be more holistic with Searches across physical, emotional and mental health wellbeing growing by ~27%. Search interest in “pet-friendly” grew by more than ~70% as people seek to have their furry friends join them on their staycations and dine outs. As an extension of these new priorities, people are now also emphasizing purchase choices that match their beliefs and values. With over 86% of consumers saying that buying sustainable products makes them happy, search interest for conscious consumerism is on the rise with interest in “sustainable’ being the highest in the last five years, for “electric scooter” growing by ~230%, “fairtrade” by ~15%, and “cycling” by ~41%.
Growing preference for language content
As more people become connected users, especially from non-metros, the demand for local language is also continuing to grow. YouTube searches for songs and videos in local languages doubled in 2021. Growth in searches for translations and assistance in comprehending words that are not in users’ mother tongue underscore the need for the digital ecosystem to serve the Indic language user.
The year also saw people’s reliance on digital for broader inclusion increase with a focus on finances, investment, jobs, and income. In particular, searches for “jobs for women” grew by ~33%, “loans for women” by ~25%, and there was a ~30% increase in Searches for “women rights” and “equal pay”. Underlining this trend was ~73% growth in users asking for help in getting their phones set up, ~43% growth in “how to invest,” and ~17% higher searches for “sell online” than last year.