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Google is giving retailers and marketers deeper insights into the fastest-growing product categories on Google Search.

With billions of consumers around the world forced into lockdown over the past few months, consumer activity has adapted — people are buying more things online, virtual education has surged, and jigsaw puzzle sales have gone through the roof. As lockdown enforcements begin to ease, we could recover some semblance of normality, but anything resembling a pre-pandemic way of life is likely a long way off. And studies have suggested that consumer habits will change permanently as a result of COVID-19.

We simply don’t know how consumer behavior will evolve as a result of the pandemic, except that there will likely be turbulence for years. This is what Google is looking to address with its new rising retail categories tool — available now via Think with Google.

While Google Trends already allows anyone to analyze search trends, rising retail categories was designed specifically around product searches that are rapidly gaining in popularity, which may change from day to day or month to month, depending on the region and current government advice.

The data is updated daily, and it can be filtered by category, country (U.S, U.K., and Australia, for now), and time frame (weekly, monthly, or yearly). It’s also possible to drill down into each broad category and see exactly what people are searching for. For example, a sports equipment retailer could observe that searches for “volleyball nets” have grown by 60% in the past week and that within those searches “crossnet” is of particular interest.

Above: Google: Rising retail categories

It’s also possible to see which regions within a country are experiencing the greatest demand.

Above: Google: Relative volume of volleyball net searches by state

This data might inform retailers marketing campaigns on a week-to-week basis or help them stock up on specific goods to cope with anticipated demand.

It’s not clear whether rising retail categories will become a permanent tool for marketers, but as government advice evolves in the coming months, consumer demand will likely fluctuate accordingly. So while “candle making kits” might be a trend in spring, “sneeze guards” could surge as winter approaches.

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