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This summer is going to be better (according to Google Trends)

Croud’s European Search Manager Arie Westerduin, takes a look at that much talked about subject – the weather. Analysing how our obsession with it is reflected in Google Trends and how this tool can be used to predict search.

The weather has long been a favourite topic of discussion among us living in Britain. In a country where people are overwhelmingly uncomfortable about showing their emotions, the weather gives us something that’s safe to talk about. It’s a way of passing time while saying as little as possible about the things that really matter…

But matter it does, especially with the summer on our doorstep. The burning question: is it going to be a good summer?

Long range (or dare I say “accurate”) weather forecasts remain the Holy Grail to meteorologists, a complex subject with many different variables. Maybe that’s why they get it wrong so often and it remains a hot topic open to debate.

We haven’t been lucky for some time, with a run of poor summers that stretches back to 2007 (a summer that most of us will remember because of the severe flooding that occurred in June).

It seemed nothing could stop the flooding – not in the least “umbrellas” – a term we searched most for at the height of that dreadful summer according to Google Trends (a tool that allows the user to compare the volume of searches over time, between terms or across various regions of the world).

So – in what must have been a bumper year for umbrella manufactures – sun cream must have been left to dust on the shelves of many stores with a record low in terms of search volume (and probably sales volume too).

But what is that spike towards the right hand side of the graph – is that Armageddon striking – or the start of what seems to be the most promising summer in years?

A look at the search volume for “sunglasses”  as well might indicate the latter as it isn’t just sun cream we’re putting on our face – but the latest (designer?) sunglasses too:

 

With the economy only slowly starting to recover (the UK avoided a triple-dip recession with better-than-expected 0.3% GDP growth in the first quarter of 2013), holidaying or at least people searching for “holidays” has been down year-on-year since, most likely fuelled by the credit crises that began in the middle of 2007.

Does that mean we are holidaying less as a nation? Probably – but it depends how you look at it as a decline in one area inevitably  leads to growth somewhere else with “staycations”  increasingly becoming a popular way to escape, relax and rejuvenate – without the expense of airports and long distance travel to think about.

Okay, enough graphs for now (this is just me being one of the search geeks around here) but all of this leads to a bigger question – can brands understand trends that influence consumer behaviour?

Search data – when interpreted correctly – can give a real-time picture (or at least trend) of what people are searching for, how they are searching for it and when.

Google Trends is just one of the many tools we use at Croud to understand big data that can be leveraged to help shape a company’s present and future business strategy through informed business planning.

A great example of this can be demonstrated using the search volume for “sun cream” and/or “sunglasses” in combination with the search volume for “uk holidays”:

It can be clearly seen that there is a direct correlation between the first two searches as the search increase for “sun cream” is a direct result of good weather – as is the increase in search volume for “sunglasses”.

Coupled with an increasing search volume for “uk holidays” this could indicate sun cream and sunglasses brands should increase their stock levels and run in-store promotions close to popular UK holiday destinations. At the same time they might expect lower interest at the till of stores located in airports (a popular point-of-sale for these products) given the lower demand in “holidays” and “flights” (see below – oops, last one… really).

So don’t be afraid to use search as prediction tool; it can help your company make more informed business plans.

Use – or let us help you – to use it to your best advantage because whatever summer it will be – one thing is for sure – the weather remains unpredictable!

If you are interested in our Paid Search services, see our PPC pages, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions.