As people learn to live with the pandemic, both within the country and outside, consumer habits are changing. For some, it means more online search and research, for others it is finding direct selling shops to buy products online. Authenticity, too, is becoming a big factor while searching online, finds a new report.
The exponential growth of the Internet user base over the past two years has led to millions of new and unique searches per day, and businesses will need to adapt in how they respond to this customer transition, said Google's annual Year in Search Report 2021. Consequently, online first shopping experiences and direct selling brands are gaining momentum since the pandemic began, said the American multinational technology firm's India arm.
Search interest in direct-to-consumer or “d2c brands” rose by 533% as businesses moved online to meet consumer needs. Searches for "which brand is good" grew by 41% as Indians researched to seek help to make decisions and build consideration sets online. The report based on Google Trends data took into account the period between September 2020 and August 2021 versus September 2019 and August 2020. There has been up to an 80% growth in customers searching for a brand’s official store as well.
Sapna Chadha, vice president of Google India told Mint that in the past two years, covid has led to an unprecedented rise in internet adoption and more and more people and businesses are relying on digital. "Digital is truly here to stay and this has had an impact on the economy across the board, whether it's startups who are leading the charge or a complete digital mainstreaming of traditional brands with technology transformation. Businesses are rapidly building new models such as direct to consumer or D2C and that's firmly taken a foothold," she said.
According to research firm Statista, in India, the total addressable direct-to-consumer (D2C) market is expected to grow by over 15 times from 2015 to 2025. In 2020, the D2C market was valued at $33.1 billion. By 2025 this market is forecast to grow almost threefold and reach $100 billion, with fashion and accessories leading as one of the largest D2C segments in India.
The increase in interest in D2C brands has also been aided by the fact that India has added the highest number of smartphone users in the last 12 months, almost two and a half times that of the pre-pandemic era, she said.
According to the report, the pandemic also increased people's searches for "online doctor consultation" which rose by 80%. Search interest in “wellness” grew 27% which includes “mental wellness,” “emotional wellness,” and “physical wellness.”
Savings were also on the top of mind for many leading to increased searches for “small investment” and “how to invest” which grew by 30% and 43% respectively. Similarly, YouTube search interest in "best stocks" rose by 45%, the Google report said. There is also a greater focus on digital in the day-to-day lives of people and that search interest in “digital loans” grew by 90% as Indians explored the idea of lending through online platforms and mobile apps.
Search interest related to misinformation, fact-checking, and fake news, such as “is it true" grew by 80%.
As consumers grow mindful of sustainability and consider using electric vehicles, search interest in "electric scooter" grew by 230%.
There was sustained momentum in searches testing internet speed and connectivity as more people came online. Search interest in “internet speed check” grew by up to 40%.