Fifteen percent of searches were all new, coming from segments of new users across all categories and for all kinds of queries.
According to the Red Lab report based on Google Trends Report In 2021, buyers were increasingly relying on digital to weigh their options and make sense of the information that was torrenting out. For example, in 2021, the report found a 41% increase in search interest in “which brand is good” as people looked to build their consideration sets.
Relevance and trust have played a vital role in helping buyers overcome decision paralysis and doubt. People were increasingly concerned about privacy, security, and transparency and were willing to invest time and resources to ensure brands aligned with their value systems and beliefs.
A caveat was issued to marketers who thought sustainability was just a “nice to do” thing. It has been stated that this is increasingly becoming a ‘must’ along with ‘sustainability’. It reached its highest search interest in the past five years in India in 2021, as consumers now waited for the brands they chose to share the same higher purpose.
Speed, convenience and price have proven to be some of the many reasons why more and more consumers are choosing digital-centric lifestyles. In 2021, nearly two-thirds of Indian consumers surveyed made the majority of their purchases online. Sixty-five percent of Indian shoppers have gone online to purchase a product they previously purchased in-store.
Nine out of 10 offline shoppers used an online touchpoint to get information about their buying journey. Search interest in online shopping has increased by 32% in India. The report highlighted a 100% growth in search interest during online sales days as people searched more online to find out when their favorite brands were holding sales.
Interest in same-day delivery search has increased by 38% as consumers seek to replicate the instant gratification of in-store shopping they’ve grown accustomed to. Shoppers were looking for free and reliable shipping, with up to 30% growth in search interest for free shipping.
India saw a 38% growth in search interest in QR codes as more consumers opted to use QR codes to order food, get more information or make payments. Search interest in digital lending increased by 90% as Indians explored the idea of lending via online platforms and mobile app.
Search interest for live streams increased by more than 28%. Search interest in virtual try-ons has increased by up to 55% as consumers use virtual tools to try on makeup, clothes and more. YouTube search interest for short videos has increased by more than 100% as India embraces small digital content.
The report pointed out that India recorded higher digital adoption growth in 2021 than other regions like the US, China and EU.
Time and cost savings, flexible payment options, diversity of product offerings and delivery services were driving shoppers to choose digital-first experiences. Consumers today saw digital not only as an easier option for researching, but also as an easier option for shopping.
The report characterizes the advent of digital in the mainstream by four sub-trends. In the category of new online users and businesses, India had 600 million smartphone users and the number was growing by 25 million every quarter. More people were also looking for ways to become online merchants, with search interest in selling online increasing by 17%.
In the category of early online shopping experiences, increased searches not only showed how shoppers were using digital channels as a useful tool for decision-making and to build their online consideration sets, but also to complete their purchases. Under digital in our everyday category, people were expanding the use cases for apps and technology in their daily lives, while experimenting with new digital services like online loans and contactless payments. The ease and convenience of digital wallets has converted consumers for good, with India seeing 5x growth in contactless payments in just five years.
In the preference for digital formats category, searches for digital formats continued to grow as Indian consumers immersed themselves online. Streaming on connected television (CTV) has taken off and short videos have become more popular. Live trading was expanding its reach, virtual tryouts were on the rise, and even as people moved away from the screen. The report said they opted for content such as podcasts and audiobooks, which they could enjoy on the go.
The report’s take on the marketing implications was that the move to the internet as the preferred channel for so many in India was a clear sign that digital was where the masses were. This meant that channel strategies that relied solely on “above the line” advertising for mass reach would be suboptimal.
Consumers expected to be able to meet their shopping needs when they needed them and wherever they were. Brands had to be ready to meet people wherever they were while shopping and create helpful gateways to bring them closer to their storefront.
Marketers had to introduce themselves to people searching for what they were selling by showcasing their products on free listings in the “Shopping” tab of “Search.” The report highlighted that marketers are shortening the path between their ad and their virtual storefront by connecting their product feed to video action campaigns to direct customers to their site or to app campaigns to take them to their mobile app. With new innovations like Google Lens, more and more people were browsing online to find inspiration in new and unique ways.
Traditional industry norms such as store size and retail heritage matter less in the next normal where 68% of Indian consumers surveyed expected to shop at any store they wanted in line. Even those who purchased offline always referred to digital channels during their research journey. Sixty-three percent of offline urban shoppers used “Search” right before their purchase.
Overall, there was a 57% increase in the use of online touchpoints in consumer buying journeys. This meant that every brand had the opportunity to enjoy growth without borders, especially those that focused on seamless online and offline experiences for their customers by integrating and innovating across functions, channels and formats. .