When it comes to the Covid-19 coronavirus, sentiment over the potential for a global pandemic is in many ways just as important as the actual outbreak itself.  After all, if consumers fear an imminent outbreak they will be more likely to curtail activity even before the onset of any spread. To that end, tracking search activity can provide a decent read into where sentiment regarding the coronavirus is now versus where it has been in the past.  If people are worried about the coronavirus, they will be more likely to search for news and information on it.

On a global basis, search trends for ‘coronavirus’ peaked at the end of January and trended lower throughout February, but with recent news over the spread of the virus outside China, search activity began to rocket higher over the weekend and has been rising ever since. Just today, search trends topped their highs from late January, indicating that people are increasingly on edge.

One of the primary drivers for the increased concerns over the coronavirus was the spread in Italy over the weekend, and search data for the term in Italy really went parabolic in the last four days (second chart). While global searches for the term are only slightly above their January peak, searches in Italy are four times greater than they were at the end of January.

In the US, search trends for ‘coronavirus’ (third chart) have also started to move higher in the last few days.  While search trends in Italy are more than four times the level they were at in late January, search trends in the US are still less than half of the level they were in late January.  Now, if the US starts to see an increase in the number of confirmed cases in the coming days/weeks (not unlikely), it is highly likely that search volume here will also surge, but at this point, Americans have been relatively sanguine.  Only time will tell if that is the right attitude or not.  Get Bespoke’s most actionable ideas and analysis with a Bespoke Premium membership.  Click here to start a two-week free trial.

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