subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

Friday fun time: Google searches are really cool, and informative too


Every once in a while it’s fun to go to Google “Insights for Search” to see what people are looking for when it comes to wine. For example, if you look for web searches for the word “wine,” you get a chart that shows some interesting things:

1. searches for wine reliably peak every year right before the holiday season. No surprise there.

2. following the disastrous 4th quarter of 2008, when the world plunged into the Great Recession, searches for “wine” fell to their lowest level since at least 2004. (Google’s analytic doesn’t seem to allow for searches prior to 2004.) No surprise there, either. People weren’t buying much of anything last winter.

In the U.S., the holiday spike was the lowest on record in 2008, as Consumers hunkered down. Still, they didn’t stop buying wine altogether. So what did they buy?

Hah! Knew you’d ask. Enter “cheap wine” into the Web Search Interest window, and guess what? As in previous years, Google searches for “cheap wine” peak every holiday season, but in 2008, searches for “cheap wine” soared to nearly double those in 2007. Again, that was worldwide; in America, searches for “cheap wine” in December 2008 set a record by far over previous years. This also confirms something we knew: Wine drinkers didn’t want to abandon their favorite beverage in that dismal holiday season, but they didn’t want to pay any more for wine than they had to. Hence, the search for “cheap wine.”

What’s the opposite of “cheap wine”? Luxury wine, of course. Google shows us that the search for luxury wine established an all-time high just before Christmas in 2007 — as you might expect, when the economy was doing all right. After the 2008 New Year, it dipped, but then set another high-water mark in April, 2008. Immediately after, in the run-up to the Recession, the search for luxury wine started a long, one-way slide down, hitting its low mark this month with, presumably, more downward movement to come.

Why did the search for “luxury wine” spike in April, 2008? Google doesn’t tell us. If you think you know why, let me know.

Google also tracks the top wine-related searches. In 2008, here were the Top Ten:

1. red wine
2. wines
3. wine tasting
4. wine bottle
5. white wine
6. food and wine
7. wine spectator
8. wine country
9. wine and spirits
10. total wine

Today, the top ten wine-related searches in America are:

1. red red wine
2. wine bar
3. wine country
4. wines
5. wine tasting
6. white wine
7. food and wine
8. wine bottle
9.  wine glass
10. wine glasses

You can see what fell off the list, what’s still on, and what’s new.

The explanation for “red wine” being the top search within the wine category is easy: consumers believe it’s good for their health. Google also provides connections between searches and top news stories, and you can see how newspaper reports influence search activity. For example, in October, 2006, there was widespread news that “Red wine helps obese live longer.” That immediately prompted the greatest worldwide search for “red wine”. The same thing happened after an October, 2008 report that “Red Wine Drinkers Lower Lung Cancer Risk” prompted another huge spike. However, then came the Fourth Quarter of 2008, and not even more good news about red wine and health could do much to boost “red wine” searches, suggesting, perhaps, that when it comes to choosing between their health and their money, consumers are more worried about the latter. That may help explain some of the debate in this country about healthcare and the public option.

Incidentally, Google measures “Rising searches” too. The number 2 rising search term in America? “wine library.” Way to go, Gary V.

  1. Re: the “luxury wine” spike in April, 2008 — I would surmise that people were seeing the drop in prices across the board and coupling that with an oversupply of high-end wine. Thus, they were searching for bargain prices on what they had been unable to obtain for years — cult Napa cabs at prices considerably lower than just the year before. Wines that were only released in small amounts to high-end dining spots were becoming available at retail shelves — and at relatively affordable prices (at least compared to the much-vaunted “waiting list” prices).

  2. My question is. How happy was Steve to see “Wine Spectator” fall from the top 10. No tears over that one from any of us. For that I am sure.

  3. Steve,
    Is #1 of today’s searches a typo, or are people STILL trying to memorize the words to the UB40 song? (I assume most google searchers aren’t into the Replacements song of the same name.)

  4. Colin, well it took a Google search for me to discover that “Red Red Wine” was originally a Neil Diamond hit! I did not know that.

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments

Recent Posts