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With the spread of the coronavirus, nations are turning to Google to search for their most crucial items new research finds, and it also identified how some seem to be getting the infection confused with the Mexican ‘Corona’ beer.

There has been a huge shift in consumer’s search behaviour amid concerns over the virus, especially as we enter unchartered territory and begin spending more time behind a computer working remotely.

The study explored the rise in search volumes of ten different keywords, in over six European countries, including the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy and Germany. For comparison purposes, the research also included the USA and Australia.

The study was commissioned by Adzooma's co-founder and CEO, Rob Wass, who says: “Our data found that searches for face masks went up by well over a million between November 2019 and February 2020.

"Hand sanitiser searches also skyrocketed, particularly in Italy, where they went from 2,390 in November to 415,870 – an unprecedented growth. In fact, in one week on Amazon UK sales of hand sanitiser increased by 560% and the average price increased 128% from £13.33 to £17.07.

“The much sought after commodity right now, toilet paper, actually remained fairly steady, with a rise in the UK, along with minimal upscale in the US and Australia.

“Invariably more consideration has been given to ‘self-isolation’, albeit the search volume wasn’t as high as other keywords. In most European countries, the keywords didn’t even break a thousand searches a month. However, one thing every country had in common was a spike in February 2020. This was most noticeable in the UK, which grew from 330 searches in November to 8,380 searches.”

The study also identified a massive boost for the Corona brand and a surge in pasta.

Correcting misapprehensions

Having a pandemic virus sharing the same name as your brand is rather unique, however there are misleading reports about the effect that the virus has had on sales of their beer. Some sources state that fears have already accounted for a £132 million loss in revenue. Others claim that this isn’t true and that their U.S. sales are up in the early part of the year. However, general search terms for Corona inevitably rose in every country.

Unsurprisingly, the UK also saw the biggest increase in search volume for pasta. In one month alone - December 2019 to January 2020 - keyword searches rose by 151%.  Since then, it has settled and dropped back down to 1,827,690 by February 2020. 

Also, hand sanitiser saw one of the biggest increases in search volume for every single country, with all countries reporting over 1,000% increases in searches, peaking at 17,400% in Italy.

Sales of toilet paper increased 311% on Amazon.co.uk between the 19th of February and the 12th of March and between December and January, face mask searches more than doubled in the USA and went up by 372% in Australia. 

Google took action on the keyword, banning adverts for face masks in an effort to stop misinformation about coronavirus. Amazon sales were not affected by this ban though. Between the 12th of February and the 12th of March face mask sales had increased by 335%. In addition, the average price steadily rose, going from £15.90 to £16.75. 

As the country with the most panic buying happening, it’s no surprise that the UK had more searches for ‘panic buying’ than any other country. The search volume increased from just 110 searches in November 2019 to 5,410 searches in February 2020. That’s a growth of nearly 5000%. 

Wass adds: “In every related product, average Amazon UK sales and prices increased, posing a potentially lucrative time for the business. 

“With the expected impact of lost retail sales in the EU expected to hit £3,264 million, this may also have a detrimental effect to the high street and a boom in online-only retailers. However, for now it’s unknown just what may happen.”