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Online Search Patterns: Supply Risk, Procurement Jobs, and Cost Savings

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by Sakthi Prasad , Content Director
28 June 2020

2020 is the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Perhaps for the first time in human history, people all over the globe simultaneously experienced lockdowns, social distancing, and economic distress.

As millions stayed indoors, digital life saw a huge uptick. An important question then is what did people search for on the Internet during the lockdown? The search patterns revealed by Google can help gauge the mood and sentiment of a community or even a country. These patterns can even aid market intelligence.

Beroe did a preliminary analysis on certain keywords that are associated with the world of procurement and supply chain in an endeavor to provide the readers a different viewpoint on what happened in the intervening months of February to May 2020.

Coronavirus versus the Rest

The term “coronavirus” was hardly searched for before the outbreak of the pandemic. However, as soon as the virus first appeared in the city of Wuhan in China, search interest for the term topped that of many other popular terms such as “music,” “netflix,” “food recipe,” and “zoom.”

Search interest for the term “coronavirus” topped by touching 100 as opposed to the other popular search strings in the above chart.

Numbers in the y-axis represent search interest worldwide over the past 12 months relative to the highest point on the chart. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term; a value of 50 means the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.

Search terms such as “coronavirus stimulus” and “coronavirus stimulus check” were labeled as Breakout by Google as the popularity of these terms saw a tremendous increase. This is probably because these topics are new and had few (if any) prior searches.

Category Strategy

The search terms “category strategy” and “category management strategy” shot through the roof in March 2020, just when the pandemic was beginning to hold sway over Europe, North America, and large parts of Asia. After a period of waning interest, the search term “category strategy” picked up again from the end of May 2020. This could be because, as economies emerge out of strict lockdowns, procurement teams are reworking some of their plans.

Category Strategy

Category Management Strategy

Interestingly, search interest for the term “Chief procurement officer” peaked in March 2020 as opposed to “procurement strategy.” This shows that a large number of people were looking up toward procurement leadership to manage the situation, especially during the severe period of the pandemic.

Procurement Strategy vs Chief Procurement Officer

Commodity Prices

Besides the pandemic, another highlight during the first five months of this year is the negative crude oil prices. The lockdowns announced by the governments across the globe took its toll on commodity prices. Predictably, search interest for the term “commodity prices” peaked in March and April 2020.

Commodity Prices

Interestingly, when compared against “category strategy,” the search interest for “commodity prices” follows a reverse pattern. The interest in commodity prices has waned—understandably so because the markets have stabilized since May 2020—but the interest for “category strategy” is beginning to go up.

Category Strategy vs Commodity Prices

Job Search

Search interest for the term “procurement jobs” peaked in February 2020 but began to slow down in the subsequent months.

Procurement Jobs

The search pattern reveals that, over the past five years, the term appears to peak between the months of January and April. This could be a cyclical phenomenon.

Meanwhile, search interest for the terms “chief procurement officer jobs” and “head of procurement jobs” saw a huge spike of 250 percent and 160 percent, respectively, between the months of February and May 2020.

Chief Procurement Officer Jobs

Head of Procurement Jobs

Supply Chain Risk

Unsurprisingly, search interest for the term “supply chain risk” peaked thrice between February and April 2020. This can be attributed to the locking down of major countries across the globe that halted global trade.

Supply Chain Risk

Supply Chain Risk Management

Interestingly, terms such as “reverse factoring,” “governance, risk management, and compliance,” “operational risk,” and “risk matrix” saw tremendous interest and were all termed as Breakout by Google because these topics probably had few (if any) prior searches. France and Italy had a disproportionate interest in “reverse factoring” as compared to other countries.

Cost Savings and Negotiation

The Covid-19 pandemic has put the focus back on cost savings like never before. The search interest peaked in late January 2020 and spiked further in March and April. This is not surprising given the focus on cost savings in the backdrop of weak economies across the globe. This also shows the potential key role procurement would play in the coming days.

Procurement Cost Savings

Search interest for the term “negotiation” peaked in late January 2020 and, subsequently, saw a gradual decrease. However, it is still holding good.



The search pattern reveals that the procurement and supply chain communities, in general, were actively looking for critical information and market intelligence during the severe phase of the pandemic. Interest continues to be strong for many of the search terms; this means the access to critical bits of data and information is important now more than ever.

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