Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Google Trend review of popularity of tea

Is tea becoming more popular?  In some sense, surely so.  Consumption of tea statistics show increase (at least as they are commonly cited), but these usually also reference bottled tea as the main source and increase in sales. 

In "tea circles" it's a given that awareness of better tea is also increasing (loose tea, higher grade from a single source, etc.), with the understanding that Starbucks purchase of Teavana is both a sign of this and a likely driver of further increase.

I've reviewed this using Google Trends, a tool that summarizes searches and publications references of terms.  Of course researching tea on-line and drinking tea are two different things, so this would just be one indicator.  Consumption statistics (perhaps not so easy to come by broken down by tea grade) and growing numbers of tea shops might be better.

Trends charts for "tea"

The following trend search seems to clearly show modest increase of tea popularity over time:

Google Trend data for "tea" over 9 years

Reviewing a graph over just two years seems to show the longer gradual increase as flat over this time:

Trend data for "tea" over two years

I had expected an increase related to either the Teavana purchase or NYC shop opening, but it didn't clearly show up, or wasn't that significant if it did.  The letters on the charts are example headlines, serving as possible explanations for the spikes, but there is no mention of Teavana in any.

Since related searches like "tea party" can throw off this data I checked a search of "oolong" to compare.  The search page does show data related to searches for combined terms were searched for, giving an idea of the relative frequency of searches relating to subjects like "tea party" and "green tea":



Trend data for "oolong"

Results seemed comparable; minor increase over time.  The spike at letter "G" identifies a headline that oolong tea can promote weight loss, although it isn't certain that theme is really the main reason for that spike since the headline samples were compiled automatically.

Next it seemed interesting to compare a check of "coffee:"

Google Trend data for searches of "coffee"

Maybe an even slightly more pronounced increase in popularity over the last few years--odd.  There is that one new kind of coffee brewing capsule people use now but the Starbucks-promoted increase in coffee consumption happened a long time ago.

You can also review the changes by region in one part of these pages and for both coffee and tea they show the same general trend:  consistent search volume in America with most increases in different countries, some seemingly random, but the most pronounced trends in Asian countries.  At a guess this could relate to increases in access to the internet instead of popularity of these subjects there.  It's also possible the delayed entry of influences like Starbucks into foreign markets could account for both the relatively recent increase and the pronounced search trend increase elsewhere.

It seemed a check on a "booming" trending subject would distinguish what a real jump would look like, so I checked "goji berry."

Google Trend "goji berry"

Much more pronounced, but I really thought that increase would have turned up earlier.  My wife had me eating goji berries to improve my eyesight and whatever else a half dozen years ago.

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