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This year has pushed brands in various industries to come up with pivots or ideas to keep surviving in the new norm. 

While the new year doesn’t guarantee a better year for business, this extremely uncertain year alone has at least geared many up to brace themselves for future unforeseen challenges.

Think with Google released its Year In Search 2020 for Asia Pacific report that analysed rising searches in 2020 to find 5 main consumer trends brands need to be aware of to start 2021 strong. Here’s a summary of its findings.

1. People Want To Feel Included

From Think with Google’s 2020 insights, 50% of APAC consumers agree that the practice of inclusivity is important to them. 

The Year In Search reports that users in the APAC region are increasingly educating themselves discreetly about how to confront social stigmas and handling topics that have traditionally been considered taboo.

Some data they found that backs up this report are a:

  • 25% YoY increase in searches about gender inequality in Indonesia.
  • 250% YoY increase in searches for “what to say to someone who is depressed” in the Philippines.
  • 250% YoY increase in searches related to disability etiquette in India.

An example of a Malaysian brand working with this consumer trend is Sunway Putra Mall launching autism-friendly shopping Tuesdays to raise support and awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

To make the shopping experience more comfortable for the autism community, the mall introduced inclusive facilities like a calm room, sensory wall, dimmed its lights and lowered its music volume.

2. Eco-Friendliness Is The Rising Standard

This year in Malaysia alone, there was a 65% increase in searches for “reusable” compared to last year’s 30% increase from 2018.

To dive even deeper into this trend, the Year In Search 2020 for Malaysia reports that there is a:

  • 285% YoY increase in “metal straw” searches.
  • 85% YoY increase in “eco shop” searches.
  • 70% YoY increase in “hybrid car” searches.

Besides products, this report also highlights data on Malaysians educating themselves to become more environmentally-conscious:

  • 75% YoY increase in “zero waste” searches.
  • 34% YoY increase in “carbon footprint” searches.
  • 110% YoY increase in “sustainable fashion” searches.

The report also highlights the shift of eco-status to eco-shame in this trend, whereby buying green is now less about the status of opting in, but more about the shame of opting out. 

Brands should take this opportunity to find ways of adapting their businesses to be more eco-friendly while being transparent about it, which will draw in consumers who share the same values.

3. Brands Need To Find Ways To Fit Into Consumers’ Lives

People will seek out brands that speak to them and that they feel understand them. This can be through their beliefs or simply having a service available to them in their local language, for examples.

For instance in Malaysia, there was a 550% YoY growth for searches about halal versions of brands, such as “Toblerone halal”, “Ovaltine halal”, and “Biscoff halal”.

Brands need to be aware of their consumers’ lifestyles and find ways to ensure that their products and services fit, and make it easier for consumers to accept them and keep them in their lives.

Within Google Marketing, they found that even when users are on English language browsers, click-through rates are consistently higher when local language ad copy is used.

“It was 17% higher in Hong Kong and Taiwan and as much as 34% in Indonesia, highlighting how important it is for businesses to challenge digital norms,” Sebastiaan Burgmans, Director, SMB Ads Marketing, Google APAC was quoted as saying in the report.

4. Consumers Are Looking For Sparks Of Joy

In a year filled heavily with grief and loss, consumers are seeking products or content that spark joy while allowing them to take a break from challenges.

The Year In Search 2020 results showed that APAC is the only region that ranks “having a positive attitude” as the most important factor over “spending time with family” and “being financially secure”.

In Malaysia, they found a 55% increase in “mukbang” searches, which is a South Korean eating show genre, for those unfamiliar with it. We also had an increase in searches for “memes”. 

With people spending more time at home, they’re investing in small indulgences that can improve their quality of life or that are meaningful.

Self-care, ways to show love and care for family and friends as well as content that’s lighthearted are some of the popular trends people are looking for nowadays.

5. People Are Future-Proofing Their Own Lives

Businesses aren’t the only ones who want to be risk-averse; with the uncertainties that lie before us, even consumers are now risk-averse, safeguarding and strengthening their economic prospects.

In APAC, the Year In Search’s study finds that there is an increase in consumers boosting their skills, financial knowledge and building up their side hustles to survive. This year, there’s been a:

  • 100% YoY increase in “top online learning platforms” in Malaysia.
  • 400% YoY increase in “fundamentals of digital marketing” in India.
  • 35% YoY increase in “stock investing” in Vietnam, compared to a 10% decline last year.

One way that brands can cater to this newly risk-averse crowd is by offering products and services under a try-before-you-buy model, which also future-proofs the business itself.

EcoWorld, a Malaysian property developer, is an example that incorporates this into their business. They designed a rental program where people could try out a house before deciding whether or not to buy it, with the option of contributing as much as 30% of the rental towards the price of the house.

Another startup that we’ve written about that does something similar is Scentses + Co, that sells you samples of designer perfumes for you to decide if committing to a full bottle is worth it.

  • You can read more listicles we’ve written about here.
  • You can read other entrepreneurial trends we’ve written about here.

Featured Image Credit: Sekeping Serendah by Zati Lutpii / Nude Zero Waste Store

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)