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COVID-19 insights & trends (May 12 edition)

As consumers remain home, search has grown in increasing importance. It helps brands stay connected with consumers and highlights new and emerging behavior trends. Our goal is to continue to provide you with new and updated search trends on a weekly basis as you adjust to the ongoing changes in search behavior.

Let’s start by exploring a couple themes in depth.

From special occasions to life milestones, how people are celebrating amidst a global pandemic

As the world is looking for some semblance of normality, people are turning to a single place for answers. That, of course, is the internet. Searches for a ‘new normal after covid’ have been trending with the recent injection of optimism and curiosity around plans for phased openings in each state. To shed some light on what the future could hold, we turn to our data to identify how recent shifts in consumer behavior can help us predict the long-term impact of the extended quarantine. When looking at gift giving for special events, we’re seeing a trend of more generous gifts in the absence of being able to spend quality time with one another. According to the National Retail Federation’s recent Mother’s Day study, 71% of participants are practicing social distancing but on average planning to spend $205 on gifts for mom, which is roughly $8 more than last year.

The data suggest that we can expect to see a similar result for upcoming graduations. In fact, graduation searches have increased 428% as consumers look to celebrate this milestone in unique ways. Like Mother’s Day, the leading gift for graduates is jewelry, which has had a 259% lift in click volume compared to last year. While monetary gifting is up, many of these graduating seniors will not have parties in the same customary fashion as previous cohorts, which is reflected in the lower click volume for invitations, décor and accessories.

While no one can say for certain what consumer trends will stick around in a post-coronavirus era, it’s useful to look at these data signals we have today to help forecast for tomorrow.

Source: Graduation gifting trends (U.S.)

Self-education and planning for the future of healthcare

In the past couple months, people around the world have had a crash course on global health systems and epidemiology. Words like ‘r naught’ have not only entered our vernacular but are now meaningful when looking at their values in our local regions. Given our newfound understanding in medical speak, it comes as no surprise that vaccine-related search volume has increased in turn. A third of recent vaccine searches contained either ‘coronavirus’ or ‘covid-19,’ which shows that people are trying to stay informed on the latest medical breakthroughs to fight the pandemic. This explains why searches for Remdesivir skyrocketed on April 29 with the announcement of the vaccine showing positive signs to treat the virus. Since that time, the Food and Drug Administration has authorized Remdesivir for emergency use in seriously ill COVID-19 patients. While the process to develop, test and broadly distribute vaccines takes time, this is a promising first step.
As the search for a viable vaccine continues, the rest of the healthcare system is leaning in to help those in need. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are allowing the expansion of mid-year benefit enhancements if they’re in connection with COVID-19. Examples of these benefits are meal delivery services or telemedicine, all of which are focused on promoting social distancing and keeping people safe. These recent updates have spurred a substantial rise in comparison shopping for new or updated plans by Medicare and Medicaid recipients, though it’s still too early to say which of these benefits and programs will become mainstays in a post-coronavirus era. That said, if healthcare follows the same trend as tech, we can expect positive long-term residuals from the progress that has been made in recent months.
Sources: Medicare search trends (U.S.); Vaccine search trends (U.S.)

Search trend & behavior changes during COVID-19


Financial Services

Health & Wellness

Retail & CPG

Tech & Telecom


For these and many other weekly-updated insights, please bookmark our COVID-19 insights and resources for advertisers hub and subscribe to the Microsoft Advertising Insider newsletter to receive blog updates automatically. If you’d prefer to listen instead, follow our Insights with Microsoft podcast series on AppleGoogle and Spotify. Curious about strategies and recommendations? Read our digital advertiser’s guide to COVID-19. For insights on Marketing with Purpose, which explores building loyalty and creating business value through an expanded view on trust paved with empathy, inclusivity and knowing your brand’s purpose, bookmark our curated hub.