Cost of living crisis fuels UK searches, while people look for aid to get on the property ladder and travel still high on the agenda

‘Cheap’ make-up and ‘package holidays’ see a rise in search, and a special report from MediaVision shows interest in second-hand fashion climb this year at the expense of ‘fast fashion’ stalwarts.

Fashion, beauty and travel are the markets that have seen a growth in search demand, but the cost of living crisis in the UK has meant rises in search for ‘cheap’ – particularly in those areas where we may treat ourselves or plan ahead to get that all important purchase. Within the beauty sector, ‘cheap make-up’ as a search term is up 77%, and ‘cheap package holidays’ continue to climb by 715%.

Meanwhile, as house prices rocket, ‘shared ownership’ across a number of UK cities and towns – in reference to schemes such as Help to Buy, to help people get on the property ladder, has grown in demand – while conversely more direct ‘property for sale’ searches have fallen. ‘Disposable income’ is clearly on the minds of consumers as they consider affordability, with searches for ‘what is disposable income’ up 183% and ‘average disposable income’ climbing 153%. 

Your regular digital demand update from Performance Marketing World – powered by MediaVision’s Digital Demand Tracker – tracks online search trends to determine what’s in demand. And in a special report from MediaVision, the first half of 2022 has seen interest in ‘fast fashion’ fall dramatically, as consumers look to more sustainable options despite the pinch on purses.

Here’s what the market demand data for various sectors shows for 5 to 18 June 2022, compared to the same time in 2021.

Sephora and Charlotte Tilbury see searches climb

Sephora saw a surge in demand in the period compared to 2021, with searches climbing 89% while Charlotte Tilbury expands its reach with a host of new products and sees a rise of 74%. The trend to retailers that stock a number of beauty brands is evident with Space NK up 34%, Lookfantastic up 21% and The Perfume Shop climbing 22%. 

FeelUnique – a Sephora stablemate – saw a continued decline in search, down 45%, while traditional British brands also saw a dip in search, including The Body Shop (28%), Neals Yard (33%) and Crabtree & Evelyn (58%).

Within travel, many airlines continue to see searches grow, fuelled by both news of strikes across Europe and calls from the UK Government that airlines cancel flights in advance in a bid to curb the chaos seen over the busy summer months. 

Searches for Etihad were up 659%, but Ryanair, Esayjet and British Airways, those most rocked by cancellation problems were up only 171%, 278% and 131% respectively. Travel marketplaces also saw growth including Loveholidays (365%), Skyscanner (242%) and Expedia (87%).

Shein bucks trend of fast fashion falls in June

Despite research from MediaVision showing a steep fall in fast fashion over the past six months, more immediately, Shein climbed in June 2022 by 105%. The established marketplace model for fashion did not fare so well for other well-known brands, with ASOS down 3%, and Boohoo down 2% – though its menswear counterpart Boohooman grew 17%.

Partywear label Lavish Alice continues to be a search winner, with searches up 78% compared to June 2021, and casual footwear label New Balance, perhaps owing to new product launches, climbed 77%. In the lingerie wars, Ann Summers won out, with searches up 25%, compared to falls for Agent Provocateur (-30%) and Victoria’s Secret (-37%). Meanwhile, as the cost of living crisis bites, Net-a-Porter and Anya Hindmarch – regular growers in PMW’s Digital Demand Tracker – fell 37% and 26% respectively.

Property crunch means searches for affordability

Despite an overall 8% decline in searches across the market, ‘shared ownership’ searches across a number of major UK cities surged – though not inside the capital, suggesting the trend to move away from London seen at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing. ‘Shared ownership’ in Brighton was up 102%, Southampton up 106% and Plymouth up 129%. While concentration was heavily in the south of England, Northampton searches for shared ownership climbed 70%, and Birmingham rocketed by 198%.

‘Disposable income’ is clearly on the minds of UK consumers as they seek to understand how affordable it is for them to assess their living situations. The term itself was up 167% in June 2022 compared to 2021, while searches for ‘average disposable income’ climbed 153% and ‘what is disposable income’ up 183%.

Destination searches fuel interest in travel

June 2022 saw a number of increases in search for a combination of key holiday destinations and major European cities, and suggests that interest in going further afield remains high. Amsterdam has soared in popularity over the fortnight, with ‘flights to Amsterdam’ up in search demand by 480%, while ‘Rome holidays’ jumped 689%. 

Further afield, Vietnam is on the list for would-be travellers, with searches rising by 680% compared to 2021, and Egypt seeing a resurgence, with ‘Egypt holiday’ searches jumping 564%.

Travel demand continues to reign in other markets, with travel insurance demand continuing to rise in significant demand, up by 368%, while within fashion, ‘hand luggage’ searches are up by more than 1,100% and ‘flight bags’ grew by 384% as travellers look for ways to save on baggage restrictions imposed by airlines.

“Fast fashion” turns off in favour of independence and sustainability

Meanwhile, MediaVision data for the past six months has shown that UK shoppers are losing interest in online ‘fast fashion’ brands. The brands that were once prime destinations for either a quick-fix treat or to top up your wardrobe cheaply and quickly with the latest trends are falling out of favour in light of concerns for sustainability and the surging trend towards ‘pre-loved’ and ‘pre-worn’ fashion as people consider where their money is going.

Over the past six months, second hand clothing retailer Preworn saw search demand hike up by 344%, while resale marketplace Vinted (a stalwart of TV advertising) jumped 62% – as both would-be buyers and sellers are attracted to the commission-free structure. Vestiaire Collective, often a place to buy and sell more luxury and designer second-hand items saw searches grow by 17%.

This comes at the expense of established ‘cheaper’ fashion brands. Topshop (now sold on ASOS after Arcadia Group’s demise in late 2020) saw searches fall by more than half (down by 60%), while MissPap fell by 45%. Missguided – which fell into administration in late spring saw volume drop by a fifth since the start of 2022.

Other winners in the past six months were independent fashion brands: searches for partywear label ‘Lavish Alice’ soared by 182%, with search volumes also rising for ‘Never Fully Dressed’ (up 72%) and ‘Revolve’ (up 71%). 

Among designer fashion brands, Coach and Net-a-Porter saw increased demand, though more recently this has tailed off for the latter according to our fortnightly report. In the first half of the year, searches for Net-a-Porter climbed 23%, while Brand Alley conversely was down 36%. As cost of living concerns continue, designer fashion may stoop in demand in the latter half of the year.

All data is sourced by MediaVision’s Digital Demand Tracker