Analysing the search terms used through search engines has become an important tool in gauging the interest in in products and the effect of media campaigns.
Google analytics have tracked the interest in various search permutations of olive oil since 2004 with interesting results. The interest is measured on a scale of 0-100. The worldwide search for 'olive oil' remained flat around the 80 mark until mid-2008 and since then has climbed steadily to around 95.
The searches are also divided into categories; for olive oil the most important categories are Food and Drink (50-75%), Health (10-25%) and Beauty and Personal Care (10-25%). The percentage indicates the perceptions of uses according to the searchers. With the emphasis on the health aspects of olive oil, it is surprising that this category does not rate higher.
The search for 'extra virgin olive oil' followed the same pattern with a score of 60 from 2004 with a steady rise from early 2008 to the current 90. Significantly, the Health category only recorded 0-10% interest, less than for olive oil. This could be interpreted as the consumer not getting the message about the health attributes of extra virgin olive oil.
The analysis of the regional interest shown in extra virgin over the last 5 years has Singapore top with a score of 100, USA second with 98 and Australia third with 74. New Zealand ranks number 8 with a score of 54.
Australian and New Zealand Searches
In Australia, the search for 'extra virgin olive oil' showed a steady decline from when it first registered with adequate traffic in late 2004 with a score of 80. The steady decline continued to late 2007 when it hit a low of just above 20. During 2008, traffic increased with a spike reaching 100 at the time of the publicity surrounding supermarket olive oils in October. Since then interest has abated to just above 60, 20 below the 2004 level.
Analysis of the searches by State shows the highest interest is in Victoria with a rating of 100, then New South Wales at 80 and Queensland with 57. The other States did not rate - probably a reflection of their smaller populations.
New Zealanders don't search enough for 'extra virgin olive oil' to register a score. 'Olive oil' does register and, following wild fluctuations in 2004 and 2005, has settled to a steady 50. There is a spike to 70 in early 2009, probably related to coverage given to the judging of the 2008 Olives NZ olive oil competition. The main interest comes from Wellington with a score of 100, then Auckland 95, Taranaki 86 and Canterbury 81.
The internet search analytics are a useful tool to gauge the impact of promotions and industry publicity - both positive and negative. Having lifted the interest back to 2004 levels, the challenge for the Australian industry is to commit the resources to sustain the renewed interest. For New Zealand, the challenge is to generate more traffic searching for olive oil.