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COVID-19 insights & trends (May 5 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.

Bringing awareness to mental health amidst a global pandemic

On May 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) extended its declaration of a global health emergency, which will not come as a shock to those who have been following the coronavirus closely. At the same time, this news still stings as it implies the inevitability of the quarantine being extended across many regions. This realization was another blow to the collective psyche of people around the world, which is why today we’ll be talking about mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is both relevant and timely. Before we discuss some data points and findings, let’s ground ourselves in what mental health means. At the broadest level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It goes on to say that mental health and mental illness are not the same thing so, in other words, a person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness.
 
Now let’s bring it back to where we are today, squarely in the middle of a global pandemic. These unprecedented times, as they’re often described, are causing elevated levels of stress, which is a leading contributor to poor mental health. Therefore, it is not surprising that the U.S. has seen an increase in searches for “depression” and “anxiety” by 3x and 2x, respectively, compared to last year. This is considerable, especially when you also bring into focus the substantial baseline of those already being affected by poor mental health prior to all this. For these insights we looked at Mentally-Healthy.org’s research from 2018, where they polled over 1,800 participants, all of which were in the media, marketing and creative industry in Australia. They found that 56% of individuals displayed mild-to-severe levels of depression and 1 in 4 showed severe signs of anxiety. When asked how many of these individuals are seeking any sort of professional help, the answer was surprisingly low at only 25%. It’s clear to see that only a fraction of the number of people experiencing issues with mental health are actively seeking help. This can be explained by one simple word: stigma. 9 out of 10 participants said they’d be supportive to work closely with someone with depression, yet only 3 of 10 said they would tell anyone if diagnosed themselves. This delta is causing people to experience challenges with mental health and not seek the appropriate help.
 
With it being Mental Health Awareness Month, now is as good a time as ever to begin having these conversations and bring awareness to the subject. Even if you’re not experiencing issues with mental health yourself, it never hurts to talk about it because the data show us just how prevalent it is.
 
To close, we’ll leave you with the simple guidance to be kind to yourself and others, now more than ever. And lastly, keep in mind how many resources there are out there to help, so don’t be afraid to begin the journey towards better mental health with a simple Bing search.
 
Sources: Mental Health and COVID-19 search trends (U.S.); Mentally Healthy 2018 research; New York Times WHO report; CDC mental health overview
 

Comfort foods and comfortable furniture: How the quarantine has helped boost home good sales globally

Memorial Day is just around the corner, which marks the unofficial start to summer for many in the United States. Of course, this year will be different with the cancellation of major events previously planned for the long weekend. With parades, music festivals and sporting events all being shelved, what are consumers thinking about right now? According to the data, a lot of them are thinking about waffles. Across the board, searches for small appliances have been way up since the beginning of the quarantine when compared to last year’s volume. Waffle irons have seen over a 100% lift in this time, while bread makers have seen a staggering 879% uptick in searches. Apparently, carbs and quarantine pair well together. This trend holds true for Australia as well, as we have seen a 37% year-on-year increase in the home appliance vertical, with the largest percentage coming from small kitchen appliances. The next leading source is major appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers. The final category which has seen growth is home furniture, led primarily by mattress and sofa searches. While the U.S. and Australia have had very similar search patterns in this vertical, there is one major difference, and that’s heating. While Americans are gearing up for summer, their Aussie counterparts in the Southern Hemisphere are doing the exact opposite; this explains the 2,000% increase in searches for gas heaters since the beginning of April. As the days continue to get colder down under, we can expect to see this search trend continue.  
 
Sources: Memorial Day Home & Garden COVID-19 update (U.S.); Consumer trends in Home & Garden during COVID-19 (AU)
 

Search trend & behavior changes during COVID-19

Automotive

Financial Services

Retail

Travel

Other

 
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.