Our new age of big data may send shivers down this spines of many civil libertarians, but it also reveals fascinating insights that were previously hidden.
Using Google Trends software, we looked at the relative number of searches from within Australia for the three biggest bike brands over the past year, followed by four bicycle categories.
The numbers are not absolute but relative, so on peak day is given an index of 100, and every other search is shown relative to that day’s total.
All of this data needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt. It is only showing the results for three specific search terms. In the case of the first chart: ‘Giant Bike’, ‘Trek Bike’ and ‘Specialized Bike’. There are a host of other search terms people could use to reach those respective companies. For example, a female looking for a Giant might search ‘Liv’, their women’s brand. A roadie looking for a Trek might search ‘Madone’ or ‘S-Works’ for a Specialized and so on.
But with that caveat in mind, the first apparent trend from the bike brand search chart is that Giant consistently gets the most searches, followed by Trek, followed by Specialized.
But the most startling result is what happened in March/April/May when Covid-19 hit Australia.
Searches for ‘Giant Bike’ grew from an index of 22 for the week of 1st – 7th March to 100 on week of 12th -18th April. That’s an increase of 454%.
‘Trek Bike’ grew from 14 on the week of 15th – 22nd March to 63 on the week of 10th -16th May, an increase of 450%.
‘Specialized Bike’ grew from 5 on the week of 22nd to 28th March to 27 on week of 12th – 18th April and increase of 540%.
Meanwhile looking at the second graph showing more generic search terms, reveals that the peak week for bicycle searches was the week of 12th – 18th April, the first week of school holidays for most states, with the kids at home and lock down in full swing.
Searches for ‘Bicycle’ doubled from the week of 15th-21st March to the week of 12th-18th April.
‘Mountain Bike’ searches increased from 27 for the week of 15th to 21st March to 75 for the week of 19th to 25th April, an increase of 277%.
Searches for ‘Kids Bikes’ and ‘Electric Bike’ have been smaller but percentage wise, kids bike searches had the biggest growth of all, 454% between the week of 15th – 21st March and the week of 19th -25th April – the second week of school holidays, by which time Mum and Dad had run out of Valium and were standing upon 1.5 metre spaced taped ‘X’s in the queue on the footpath outside their nearest bike shop.
‘Electric Bike’ saw the smallest rise, but also the flattest curve, with as yet, no significant downside after the peak.