2020 Consumer Spending Analysis & Search Trend Report

2020 Consumer Spending Analysis & Search Trend Report 

As we’ve adapted to living through a global pandemic, new and emerging search trends have appeared — revealing insights that companies should be mindful of. 

The Seer team set out to understand how consumer finance and online search habits have changed as a result of the pandemic, including:

  • How are consumer’s putting money back into the economy year over year?
  • Are certain categories trending higher or lower than others?
  • How does seasonality affect consumer financing?
  • Are some topics more impacted by seasonality than others?

Our goal was to find opportunities for companies to craft online strategies and publish rich content that can attract net new customers or re-engage lost customers.

Methodology

Seer’s Financial Task Force pulled 24 months of keyword data (almost 350K unique terms) from Google Keyword Planner. These ranged across 24+ categories:

Budgeting Generic – Loans Mortgages
Business Loans Generic – SSN Personal Loans
Cell Phone Plans Generic – Travel Question
Collections Generic – Vehicles Savings
Colleges Grants Shopping
Credit Cards Home Equity Loan Student Loans
Credit Score Internet Plans Tax
Generic – Banks Membership Wedding

For each category, we identified the year-over-year change (last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months) in search volume/demand for each group of keywords.

Our analysis found that the eight categories below experienced the most significant shifts in consumer search behavior:

  • Mortgages
  • Budgeting
  • Savings
  • Membership
  • Personal Loans
  • Business Loans
  • Home Equity Loan
  • Grants


Executive Summary

💡 Savings and budgeting are on the rise as people look to build up their rainy day funds.

Budgeting-Related Search Volume:

  • Search volume in Budgeting-related terms slightly declined YoY (-0.25%)
  • From March through July search interest in Budgeting is above the yearly average

Savings-Related Search Volume:

  • Savings-related themes increased +23.31% YoY in search volume
  • Similar to Budgeting, search interest for Savings is above the normal search volume for March through July

💡 Intent to cancel or switch memberships and other services shows brand loyalty is volatile.

Switching-Related Search Volume:

  • There is heightened consumer interest in “switching” services such as banks or insurance providers

Membership-Related Search Volume:

  • Search interest grew 19% YoY; spiking at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

💡 COVID hasn’t discouraged people’s interest in purchasing homes.

Home Equity Related Search Volume:

  • From March to July, search interest has been above the yearly average

Mortgage-Related Search Volume:

  • More people interested in buying a home (potentially due to lower interest rates caused by COVID)

💡 Business owners are continuing to rely on financial aid and other governmental grants to stay afloat.

Financial-Related Search Volume:

  • Overall search volume for Financial Aid grew 48% YoY; spiking in July 2020 (+133.27%)

Grant-Related Search Volume:

  • Main drivers were increases in searches for sba grants, grants for colleges, and small business federal grants

Savings and Budgeting Strategies are Top of Mind for a Rainy Day

Consumers are still being mindful of how much and where they’re spending, but the upcoming holiday season could shift people’s spending habits as they look to make significant financial purchases/decisions for the first time since COVID-19 initially hit.

Overall search volume for Savings spiked in March 2020 (+52.47%), coinciding with when COVID-19 first impacted the United States. There has been increased interest in overall saving strategies, specifically:

  • how much should you save for emergency fund (+66.67% YoY)
  • how much money should you have saved by 25 (+61.48% YoY)
  • how much money should you have saved by 30 (+58.01% YoY)
  • how much should I save a year (+56.25% YoY)
  • how to save money faster (+26.87% YoY)
  • how much should I save for retirement (+16.30% YoY)

Recommendations

  • Support price-conscious consumers by offering promotions, coupons, and discounts
  • Increase lead volume at the top of the funnel by offering best practices content for basic savings strategies, holiday spending, or 1:1 support for tracking expenses

Best in Class Examples


High Intent to Switch or Cancel Memberships and Other Services

Consumers were looking to switch their bank relationships or cancel memberships to save money or explore new options during the initial COVID-19 wave.

There has been heightened consumer interest in “switching” services such as banks or insurance providers; as we’ve seen increased interest in:

  • switching insurance (+56.92% YoY)
  • how to switch banks (+12.82% YoY)
  • how to switch bank accounts (+10.29% YoY)
  • how to switch car insurance (+7.83% YoY)

Search volume in membership-related searches also grew 19% YoY, but most of this volume centered around either switching or cancelling services; spiking from March 2020 through May 2020. Search volume in keywords related to “cancel” rose +72% above the yearly average in March before dropping off in May:

  • canceling LA fitness membership (+123.76% YoY)
  • how to cancel aaa auto insurance (+100% YoY)
  • cancel gym membership (+65.93% YoY)
  • cancel aaa insurance (+20.07% YoY)

Recommendations

  • For health and fitness businesses such as gyms or health products, now is a great time to re-engage with lost customers with remarketing campaigns
  • For traditional banks or credit card companies, there is opportunity to create content around the logistics of switching banks or credit cards

Best in Class Examples


The Pandemic Hasn’t Slowed (or Even Discouraged) Home Buying

As conservative spending habits have sinked in during the last 4-6 months and mortgage rates have declined, consumers are now thinking about major purchases like buying a new home for the first time.

Overall search volume for Mortgages and Home Equity Loans remained consistent YoY, but we’re starting to see increased interest from March 2020 through July 2020. Mortgage rates lowering in March coincides with increased search volume in Mortgage terms from March – July.

Digging in deeper, we’ve noticed that a big region driving this interest is in the South, increasing +3.78% YoY or +1.4 million searches. There has been increased interest in these rates, specifically:

  • home grants for first time buyers (+134.09% YoY)
  • chase mortgage rates (+46.42% YoY)
  • wells fargo mortgage rates (+39.04% YoY)
  • todays interest rates on mortgages (+28.53% YoY)
  • todays rates mortgages (+15.30% YoY)
  • rates on mortgages (+5.97% YoY)

Furthermore, we’ve noticed a +40% increase in search volume around interest in buying a home:

  • what is the credit score needed to buy a house (+244.91% YoY)
  • the process of buying a home (+79.23% YoY)
  • florida first time homebuyer (+77.87% YoY)
  • steps to buying a house (+65.41% YoY)
  • tips on first time home buying (+58.88% YoY)

Recommendations

  • Help prospective homeowners understand the pros and cons of buying a home during a pandemic
  • Don’t forget to help support current homeowners by providing information around refinancing
  • For companies with a strong contingent of customers in the South, now is the time to ramp up marketing efforts

Best in Class Examples


Small and Local Business Owners Continue to Rely on Financial Aid

While consumers have individual habits, there are also people who also have their own small business that have been negatively impacted.

We’ve noticed that these types of business owners are continuing to rely on federal assistance, but there are other means to provide COVID-19 relief and information on how to help.

Overall search volume for Grants grew 48% YoY; spiking +133.37% in July 2020; main driver was increase in:

  • sba grants (+31,821.32% YoY)
  • business loan grants (+2,612.37% YoY)
  • small government business loan (+409.26% YoY)

Search interest in business loans peaked in July 2020; growing ~30% above seasonal search volume from 2019

  • how to apply for small business loan (+489.09% YoY)
  • small business loan interest rates (+71.73% YoY)
  • variable vs fixed rate loans (+50% YoY)

Recommendations

  • Credit Card companies should look to create/promote content around waiving service fees or fees from CD withdrawals for businesses
  • Loan providers (for business or personal loans) should emphasize 1) interest rates and 2) payment timelines to showcase transparency for price-conscious prospects

Best in Class Examples


Industry Insights & Opportunities

In summary, the trends emerging from the pandemic present new challenges for companies to acquire customers and re-engage those they’ve lost.

All opportunities we’ve identified in this analysis are recapped below and broken down by industry:

  • For health and fitness businesses such as gyms or health products, re-engage with lost customers with remarketing campaigns
  • Leverage your email list to send messages to past and current customers — educate them about safety precautions and protocols you’re following to keep them safe


Thank You For Reading!

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