Popular in the pandemic – Google searches analysed

What analysts and marketers like about the internet is that everything is measurable – as pointless as it may be in many cases. Yet there is a bunch of internet stats that are helpful or at least entertaining. The latter is in my view a website that analysed Google searches and looked at how popular product search terms were in the pandemic.

For the printing industry most categories are of limited interest as mostly consumer goods made it to the searched item roster. Keywords and categories were sourced from Google product taxonomy. Results are restricted to searches on Google Shopping in the US only. The analysis ranked products and their search terms into three groups.

New Normal were termed the keywords for which the 2020 and 2021 search interest patterns differ from 2019 – which is essentially a continued higher interest since the pandemic. Card games are a great example of a continued higher interest since the pandemic. All items around the home office benefited too, including printers and scanners. Interesting Fax machines made it to the list as well, indicating that savvy Google shoppers still have an interest in faxing.

Searches for "Card Games" Unusual keywords were those that exhibited a different search interest pattern in 2020 compared to 2019 and 2021, for example a sudden spike in interest, followed by “normal” search patterns. Jigsaw puzzles is a prime example for this category. Searches did only see a sharp spike at the begin of the pandemic with interest normalising again. Toilet paper is another item in this category, with searches normalising (thank god) after a sudden spike.

Searches for "Jigsaw puzzles"

Normal keywords were those for which the yearly pattern of search interest was similar across 2019, 2020, and 2021. In the not affected category fall for example calendars – which seem to spike every year in early winter. I probably would have guessed this anyway.

Searches for "Calendars"

You can give it a try and see here how products were doing and what was popular in the pandemic and what not.

European print production 2021 – Chart of the week

Starting into the new year is a good time to have a look at the European print production developments in 2021. For the full revenue data to trickle in we have to wait several months – even for the first countries to report. The full data on Eurostat might be even two years out as Eurostat just about managed to publish 2019 revenues now.

The next best thing is to look at the monthly production index data published by Eurostat. Data is now available until October 2021. The best fitting category in the database is “print and reproduction of media” – with print production making up the lions share in that category. The data is based on the average 2015 volumes as being 100 index points. Starting values in the 90s for 2019 shows that print production volumes already declined before the pandemic hit in early 2020.

Print production index data

Recovered paper prices – chart of the week

If something is illustrating the current shortage in paper it is the rising costs of recovered paper. The chart shows German recovered paper prices – indexed for 2015 as 100%. China, once the main destination of recovered paper closed their borders for most waste materials in 2018 – which includes most recovered paper. This sent recovered paper prices into a tailspin. The bottom was reached during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, when everything came to a standstill, at about 20% of the 2015 prices.

Recovered paper prices – chart of the week
Recovered paper prices Germany 2018 – 2021

Door drops are dropping – Chart of the week

In many European countries door drops are a huge alternative to addressed direct mail. The DMA just published their 2021 Annual Door Drop Industry Report for the UK. It might not be a huge surprise that door drop volumes and revenues were dropping in 2020 – after all the pandemic forced many businesses to restrict activity and scale down marketing. Yet a 33.6% drop for 2020 is quite drastic.

UK door drop volumes
UK door drop volumes 2016 to 2020

Chart of the week: How print applications fared in 2020

After a lot of speculation, finally the first sets of (real) numbers are out on how different print applications fared in 2020. The German printing industry association (BVDM) just published their 2020 print industry stats. The faint hearted should be warned – it is no pretty picture, however not unexpected.

How print applications fared in 2020 versus 2019
2020 vs 2019 revenue by application – Germany

Overall print revenues declined by 11.5% to €10.8 bn. This is somewhat in the expected range. There are some interesting details in the distribution, however.