Throughout the course of the pandemic, consumers across the globe have realised vast behavioural shifts relative to their day-to-day lives — second-to-none being the way they shop online.
In fact, the Wall Street Journal cited analysts’ estimates that the e-commerce sector grew by roughly 50% during 2020 alone. Indeed, when considering only the US, online purchases during the 2020 holiday season grew by a staggering 32.2%, when compared to the same period of time in 2019.
Notably, as consumers demonstrate their increasing preference for online shopping (and spend a record amount of time at home), the way in which people search for products online has evolved as well.
According to Google, online searches for cookware increased by 53% from 2019 to 2020 and searches for streaming devices increased by 31% over the same period of time. Additionally, search interest for coffee makers surged to an all-time high in 2020, increasing by more than 33% from 2019.
At MyUS, we’re experts at facilitating global access to products from the US, so we set out to create a unique way to compare, and subsequently visualise, global ecommerce trends from 2019 to 2020. To that end, we analysed historical Google search volume data of ~600 popular products, across 189 countries around the globe, to determine the products that were searched at a disproportionately high frequency to determine which country ‘Googled’ the most popular consumer products at the highest rate.
Below, our first set of maps compares historical search volume data for the consumer products referenced above for both 2019 and 2020.
2019 and 2020 highlights
- In both maps, iPhones dominated the global search landscape. From 2019 to 2020, there was a 51% increase in the number of countries where the most disproportionately searched product was an iPhone – the most compared to any other product on the list. Interestingly, there were many iPhone variants (Pro, Pro Max, and SE models) that proved to be in high demand across both years. Notably in 2020, 37 countries’ most disproportionately searched product was not the most recent model iPhone, but rather the iPhone 11. In 2020, only Saudi Arabia and Alegria searched for specific models of the iPhone 12 (iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, respectively) more than any other product. Zimbabwe had early search interest in the iPhone 12, searching for it the most compared to all the other listed products in 2019.
- In both 2019 and 2020, we saw a number of countries with uniquely high search volume for gaming consoles – including Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series X. We anticipated that 2020 would see a higher demand for gaming systems. However, more countries had gaming consoles as their most-searched product in 2019 (44) than 2020 (13).
- Electronic products are the most highly searched across the globe (more than any other category analysed). There was a 37% increase in the number of countries that had electronics as their most-searched product in 2020, when compared to 2019.
- The number of countries that had streaming devices as their most searched product was split almost evenly between 2019 and 2020, with Google Chromecast garnering the top spot from the highest number of countries in both years.
- In 2020, there were four additional countries that searched for Nespresso coffee products (at a higher rate than any other product), when compared to 2019.
- In 2019, there were a number of countries whose most disproportionately searched product had yet to be released. Djibouti, Madagascar, Seychelles, and Tuvalu all had a disproportionately high amount of Google searches for the Playstation 5. Additionally, Zimbabwe had disproportionately high searches for the iPhone 12, more so than any other product.
- The Central African Republic and Kiribati were the only countries in 2020 that searched for beauty/cosmetics products more than any other product on the list.
- The countries of Nauru and Solomon Islands were the only countries that had apparel products as their most searched product in 2020 – with SPANX tights topping the list in both instances.
In addition to comparing the full year’s worth of search volume data for 2019 and 2020, we evaluated global search volume data for the same list of popular products during the holiday shopping season. Below are maps showing the most disproportionately searched products during the holiday season, across each country analysed, examining data from only November and December of 2019 and 2020.
2019 and 2020 holiday season highlights
- The total number of countries where iPhones were the most-searched product increased by 71% during the holidays in 2020, when compared to 2019. There were 12 countries that searched for older iPhone 11 models more than any other product in 2020. In fact, throughout holiday 2020, 22% of the countries whose most searched product was an iPhone, had an iPhone 12 variant as their leading product (12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, or 12 Mini). Belarus was the only country that searched for the iPhone 12 Mini more than any other product (iPhone or otherwise).
- During holiday 2020, there was a 157% increase in the total number of countries where a video game console was the most searched product, when compared to holiday 2019. The Nintendo Switch was the top gaming system in both 2019 and 2020.
- Throughout holiday 2020, there was a 27% increase in the total number of countries that had a streaming device as their most searched product. In 2019, Amazon’s Firestick held the top streaming device spot in said countries, while Google’s Chromecast was the streaming device of choice for holiday 2020.
- The electronics category dominated the Google search landscape during both holiday seasons. A total of 157 countries in 2019 and 155 countries in 2020 had an electronic as their most searched product.
- The exact same number of countries listed home/kitchen products as their most searched from 2019 to 2020, with Nespresso, Instant Pot, and Magic Bullet Blender leading the pack.
- During holiday 2019, there were 8 countries where toys/games were the most searched product. For holiday 2020, only 3 countries had toys/games topping their list. Throughout holiday 2019, Uno and Monopoly were the most searched games. No games appeared on the 2020 holiday map. Toniebox was the most searched toy for both 2019 and 2020. However, Vanuatu Googled “Pets Alive Fifi the Flossing Sloth” the most.
To understand global search trends, we didn’t want to simply explore the overall number of searches for any given product, as that data wouldn’t reveal the nuances relative to how an individual country’s consumption habits (searches for products) change over time.
Rather, we developed a list of 600 popular products, sourced from a variety of ‘best-of’ and top-selling product lists for both 2019 and 2020.1 The list of popular products was then added to Google’s Keyword Planner to determine historical search volume for each product, across all countries evaluated (there are 189 countries Google provides search volume data on).
To even the playing field between smaller countries with lower populations/lower search volume and countries with large populations that have high overall search volume (US, Canada, UK, India, etc.), we determined each product’s percentage of country-specific search volume and then compared that percentage to the percentage of aggregate, worldwide search volume. This allowed us to see the most disproportionately searched product in each country analysed.
We had fun taking this unique and entertaining look at global Google search trends, and we sincerely hope you enjoy it as well!
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