5 Truths for 2021

During the subsequent edition of Google webinars 5 search engine trends were presented which, in the opinion of the Google research team, will fundamentally shape the year 2021.  The presentation was prepared based on internal Google data from the UK, US and India, but the trends are also visible within the Polish search engine. 

The first, most significant trend is regaining the desire for control 

The year 2020 has taken this away from us in a big way, leaving us not only uncertain about the future, but also feeling out of control.  This is reflected in the change in the way we search for information about products or services and evaluate them.

How is this implemented within the search engine? First and foremost, there are questions about safety in the context of products, but not only (although the increase in such questions is 10 times as much as compared to 2019).  These are also questions that suggest we’re increasingly looking for the products that best fit our specific needs (e.g., financial) and trying to create a sense of security by building some sort of “new normal” around us.  Inquiries about hobbies are on the rise.  Although the word is growing, it doesn’t do justice to the scale of the changes taking place.  Interest in learning music is growing by 1,300%, artistic skills in the broad sense of the word are growing by 1,100%, knitting by 1 600%, but this is still not much compared to interest in, for example, strategy games, where the growth is as high as 2,400%.  Many of us expect that 2021 will allow us to enjoy the benefits of these changes.

How did the brands manage this trend? One of the most noteworthy is the Jeep commercial. It is not very often that a car commercial omits its features and focuses the viewers’ attention on the help center that is supposed to help in every situation.  Additionally, the message is supplemented with information about the possibility of deferring payments for 4 months.  The brand effectively wins here with the ability to build a sense of security and the slogan “Better days are ahead”.

The second trend is the need to regain a sense of balance

Those who have experienced the hardships of working remotely with young children will immediately understand this need.  Although it seems important to go deeper into the meaning of this balance. It’s not about returning to old habits or customs, but about reconciling them with the new normal.  But it is not only the adaptation of a new lifestyle that has forced us to look at some things from a different point of view or to make decisions that we had not even considered before. This has often opened our eyes to something we didn’t see before and this has translated into our actions.  Even now, phrases from the family “how to change the world” are searched for twice as often as phrases like “how to get back to normal”.  Our habits are also evolving, for example the so called “Staycations” where we search for information about our nearest area, but in a context never seen before.

The third trend is the care for ties with loved ones

Again, this is carried out on many levels.   We have learned to spend time with friends online, often playing different types of games, here the best example can be the phenomenon of games such as Among Us (if any of you have played Mafia on summer camps or college trips, you will undoubtedly like this game).  But the rise in popularity of online shared entertainment is not the only aspect.  It’s also about having meals together, but done with the idea that they should be similar to those in a restaurant – here we note an increase of 70% in such requests.  Looking after relationships is also about opening up to others, often a desire to better understand the interests of our loved ones – the increase of questions about such things as, for example football rules, increased by 80%.  I’m convinced that parents are also naturally more likely to ask their kids about their interests, whether related to games or activities in the new social media.

How can this trend be used within brand communications? I’m probably not the only one who thinks of the old “call Mom” commercial, but I’m glad to see that brands have found less archetypal ways to use this trend.  A great example is IBM’s heartwarming ad for the US Open, which ingeniously portrayed family involvement in preparation for the event.

The fourth trend is working on the home – as the place where we spent almost the entire passing year

This space was undergoing a transformation along with us. From the first renovations at the beginning of March 2020, to adopting balconies to grow vegetables, or finally setting aside space for playrooms or workspaces.  Interestingly, this is accompanied by great care for these spaces. This is reflected in the adjectives – we no longer look for cheap pieces, but for the best ones, those that will last as long as possible and those that will adorn our space.

We are also getting used to doing more and more things from home – virtual trips to the zoo, museums, or other cultural sites are no longer an unusual way of spending free time, but something that has become a permanent part of the repertoire, for example educational.  This is an example of the so-called “expanded space”, a phenomenon where being  in one place all the time, we broaden our experience of reality.  In the past we were helped in this by books, today equally often by audiobooks. And it is this trend of “expanding” reality that Fly Audible has decided to use, showing us how we can visit Mars, a medieval battlefield or go on a journey to Hogwarts without moving from our home.

The last trend discussed during the webianar was the focus on people

On their stories and experiences.  Through the BLM protests from the beginning of the year, through the faces of doctors and nurses devastated during long hours on duty, or finally the ever louder talk about mental health, the need to take care of ourselves, self-acceptance, or noticing other people around us.  This was perfectly used by the Dove brand with a spot showing the aforementioned health care workers with the slogan “Courage is beautiful”.  

In conclusion, I would like not so much to summarize this conference, as to share a thought.  Brands have a unique opportunity, on the one hand to accompany their customers in this new reality, and on the other hand to shape this reality around us in a spirit of social engagement in such a way as to change this world for the better.  This may sound pathetic, but please remember that more and more often brands are perceived through their values or loudly communicated vision.  So as we focus on our business goals, can we remember to commit to something good?  I believe so.  I am also deeply convinced that our customers will not only see this, but above all appreciate it.