From learning to looking for used laptops and cars: How Indians spent time online in 2020

Hemani Seth Mumbai | Updated on March 26, 2021

Indians are increasingly leveraging Google Search for learning and personal development with the acceleration of digital adoption, according to Google’s annual Year in Search report 2020.

As per the Search data in the report, titled ‘India’s determined progress’, there has been a geographical expansion of new digital users in tier 2/3/4 locations and rural India.

“This has led to an increase in the importance of the 3Vs--Voice, Video and Vernacular--a trend that was first established in 2017, for a wider variety of uses, underpinned by a preference for the mother tongue,” Google said.

Going local

With the digital expansion in the country, there has also been a significant upsurge in demand and consumption of online content in local languages.

“The theme ‘Local first’ highlights the increase in the demand and consumption of both local language content and local information,” Google said.

“Consequently, the year saw Google Translate being used over 17 Billion times to translate web pages into Indic languages,” it said.

Also read: Google blocked over 99 million Covid-19 related ads in 2020

Apart from this, over 90 per cent of YouTube users preferred to watch content in Indic languages. 4 out of 5 most searched video series in 2020 online were Indian content.

The year also witnessed a spike in demand for “local news.” Furthermore, 1/3rd of Google Assistant users in India are using it in an Indic language.

Learning online

There is a significant upsurge in queries for “learn”, which were up more than 30 per cent YoY (Year on Year).

“This, ‘Learning anything, anywhere’, is one amongst the three major changes in user behaviour that have emerged based on search trends spanning Search and YouTube in 2020”,” the tech giant said.

There has been an increase of 85 per cent YoY in searches for “online course”, compared to flat growth in the previous YoY. Google searchers for “certificate course” went up over 50 per cent YoY. There has been a 14x YoY increase in YouTube searches for “ऑनलाइन क्लास” (online class).

The report further added that 70 per cent of parents interested in online children’s courses are also willing to pay for them if they find them useful.

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Apart from learning, Indians are also turning to Google search for finding jobs and upskilling for professional development as people were mandated to work from home amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The searches from across India for “work from home jobs” witnessed a 140 per cent growth over 2019. Notably, there has also been over 65 per cent YoY growth in searches for “how to sell online.”

Buying online

Additionally, the report also calls out a “re-evaluation of what Indians considered essential giving rise to a new definition of ‘Value’.”

“With health becoming a foremost concern, Indians adopted a new willingness to try new things online with “online doctor consultations” searches growing at 300 per cent growth in the last one year led by Manipur, Bihar and Karnataka,” as per the report.

The data also indicated a major spike in the on-demand economy going beyond the established categories and extending to cars, motorbikes, and Smart TVs.

As per the report, demand for connected devices saw a massive surge with ‘second-hand laptops’ recording over than 60 per cent increase in Search queries YoY.

“These user behaviours were coupled with their increasing comfort with transacting online with more than 60 per cent YoY in searches for “how to pay online”, compared to being flat last year,” the report said.

The searches for “second-hand car” witnessed a 30 per cent YoY growth in 2020. Similar trends were seen in the auto segment with 50 per cent of auto consumers — for both 4-wheelers and 2-wheelers willing to consider “buying online” if given an option.

Also read: Google rolls out Live Caption feature for Chrome users: Report

There has been over 45 per cent YoY growth in searches for “Online store”, compared to flat growth in the previous year.

Sanjay Gupta, Country Head & VP, Google India, said, “2020 was a year of disruption, resilience, and adaptation, both for businesses and users. It has also been a catalyst for massive changes, both in consumer behaviours online and in how businesses have pivoted to digital. The momentum has now been set for expanding and deepening this transformation, and to rethink our business models, approach, solutions, marketing, and distribution to keep pace with India’s fast growing digital users.”

Sapna Chadha, Senior Director of Marketing, Google India & Southeast Asia, said, “Our report is headlined by the fact that the Indian online user’s embrace of technology in 2020 has changed their behaviour, priorities and intent as consumers. Businesses too have needed to adapt to these cues. Going forward they will need to reshape their approaches and boundaries for customer engagement in order to build a consistent and positive brand experience both online and offline.”

“Consumers are looking to meet more and more of their demands online, in their preferred languages, and amidst their individual areas of interests and needs, with brands supporting them in their search for a better tomorrow,” Chadha added.

Published on March 26, 2021

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