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What Indians search online… and implications for brands

Google recently released its annual ‘Year in Search: Insights for Brands’ report. The report is a deep dive into what Indian users are searching for online and the opportunities these trends can unlock for brands. 

Some interesting findings include: Dating related searches in India are growing much faster than matrimony queries; there has been a 75 per cent increase in ‘Near Me’ queries; there has been a 100 per cent growth in queries for co-working spaces. 

Sharing insights from the report, Vikas Agnihotri, Country Director, Google India, said, “The online space in India has never been more vibrant. India has become the fastest internet consuming country in the world and the internet has now become the bridge to Bharat’s aspirations. As highlighted in the ‘Year in Search’ report, the growing influence of online video, increase in usage of language and voice, along with a rise of ML and AI are opportunities for brands and marketers. This enables brands to create relevant experiences to engage and retain customers on a platform that they spend considerable time on.” 

The top five emerging trends from the Google India Year in Search-Insights for Brands report are: 

Bharat is going online: With an average yearly addition of 40 million users, the internet is being welcomed into homes all over India. Rise in online search volumes in non-metros is now trumping metros. Consumers in non-metros are using the internet to search for information regarding insurance, beauty and travel more than metros. 

Video is the new search tool: Indian consumers love online video. Period. Everyday millions of users are using Video to ‘learn’ something new. Online video audience in India is expected to grow to 500 million by 2020. Watch time for Science videos as well as Hobby related videos in India have more than tripled in 2018. YouTube has also become the new beauty advisor, as watch time for Beauty Tips videos in India has doubled YoY in 2018 and searches related to beauty have grown by 40 per cent last year. 

Regional languages: Indian language internet users are expected to account for nearly 75 per cent of India’s internet user base by 2021, and Google search trends show a significant move in this direction. Hindi is also gaining traction in the Technology sector with 2X increase in Hindi queries related to laptops and PCs. 

The rise of omnichannel: With the rise of omnichannel, consumers are making the most of their online and offline experiences. Food seems to be the ‘topic of interest’ and pizza has emerged as a hot favourite for Indians searching online There was a 2.5X jump in aggregator brand queries in comparison to the total growth of food tech queries. 

Assisting businesses through AI and ML: 2018 saw an increase in the adoption of online automation, as businesses used artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to drive efficiency and improve customer experience. Brands across various categories, such as BFSI and telecom, have started integrating voice assistants like Google Assistant with their customer service to help customers. Brands such as Uber, Ola, Meru made cab booking services available on Google Assistant. Furthermore, brands are using automated capabilities in digital marketing to save time and drive higher return on ad spend (ROAS). 

Key stats: 

  • 61 per cent of all searches across BFSI are coming from non-metros
  • 55 per cent of all auto-related searches from non-metros
  • Interest in travel is much higher in non-metros
  • 1/3rd of searches for online video are entertainment related
  • Lifestyle, education and business have shown 1.5x - 3x growth in last 2 years
  • 80 per cent of car buyers use online video as a research destination
  • 9 out of 10 new internet users in India are likely to be Indian language users
  • 3x jump in Hindi queries for smartphones and mobile phones
  • 50 per cent of organised retail to be influenced by digital in 2020
  • 88 per cent increase in ‘Near Me’ searches for telecom stores
  • 7x rise in use of assistant
  • 2x sales for GSK Otrivin by running real time weather-based campaigns
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