I’m sure we can all agree that 2020 is going down in history as an unforgettable year full of major events that inspired a widespread change in society, as well as in our daily lives. Since the start of the pandemic in March, we’ve all been working on getting used to the “new normal”, even if it meant putting our lives on hold to stop the virus from spreading. Over the course of last year, we’ve seen how the crisis accelerated digital transformation for some industries, while it also inspired people who were stuck in a lockdown to take part in new trends and share their ideas on social media. I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the most common questions people were asking in 2020 to see if they will reflect these trends and the challenges we’ve had to face because of the pandemic. I have used the Google Trends website, which is a valuable tool for marketers, offering insight into what’s on people’s minds and lots of options for filtering and comparing data.

Google Trends Homepage

The top 5 how to… questions people from the UK wanted to know were:

1. How to make a face mask?

If you had googled the same words back in 2019, you would have received very different results, probably describing which natural ingredients you should mix to use for skincare. This is a great example to demonstrate how the pandemic changed our relationship with everyday objects: now everything from Pinterest to YouTube is full of sewing patterns and tutorials for the crafty ones among us to help with their next DIY project. Since they became essential, some people have even started their own businesses making reusable face masks, taking their lockdown projects to the next level.

2. How to make hand sanitizer?

Thanks to panic buyers, during the first couple of months, it has been really difficult to find hand sanitizer in shops (among other things). This eventually led to supermarkets limiting sales on key items, which inspired people to find out if they could make their own sanitizer at home.

As bored as I have been during the summer, I haven’t tried this one, but a quick search told me that you only need a couple of common ingredients for it and the process is quite simple. However, every single article highlighted that if you decide to go for it, you need to watch out for keeping the right percentage of alcohol content to ensure your solution remains effective. Also, don’t forget about soapy water and a proper handwashing technique, which is known to be more effective according to health professionals.

3. How to make bread?

It didn’t surprise me to see that baking also made the podium. Thanks to the lockdowns, millennials could finally recreate their beloved smashed avocado on home-made toast in the comfort of their own kitchens.

search graph for sourdough 2020

The graph above shows a big jump in the number of searches for sourdough precisely around the time when the first lockdown began (mid-March, almost a year ago as I am writing this). Seemingly everyone wanted to jump on the sourdough train at that time, but the UK population’s enthusiasm faded gradually over the summer, leaving the stress of having to fight for the last packet of flour behind.

4. How to get tested for coronavirus?

This is the first coronavirus-related question that popped up on our list, but the virus has actually been searched for more times than any other term last year. As always, Google tried to keep their reassuring tone in their end of the year video and focus on the positives to balance the severity of the issues reflected in the data.

5. How to cut your own hair?

Searches for “how to cut your hair” reached a worldwide all-time high in 2020. Last year supplied us with more haircut horror stories than anyone could have imagined. Some of us were proud to share our quarantine fails on social media, hoping it will put a smile on somebody’s face at least, while many others were forced to stay far, far away from scissors until hair salons were allowed to reopen.

According to Google, the most popular hairstyle, reaching an all-time high number of searches in 2020 was…

mullet haircut

Yup, the mullet.

Perhaps it has something to do with the popularity of Netflix’s Tiger King, or celebrities like Billie Eilish bringing it back to the mainstream – the mullet’s strange reappearance is not something I would have expected, but then again, the entire year has been full of uncertainty and surprises none of us were prepared for.

It’s been interesting to look at some of the information collected by Google, and in this case, finding out that the data from last year reflects the different stages of the rollercoaster ride we’ve been through in 2020. This type of data can be used in a variety of ways in marketing, from identifying keywords to recognising geo-specific trends, making it a great tool for digital marketing specialists looking for information or inspiration to improve their campaigns.