Dr Google: Getting under the skin of prebiotics

By Nikki Hancocks contact

- Last updated on GMT

getty | AndreiDavid
getty | AndreiDavid

Related tags: Probiotics, Prebiotics, Women, Immunity, Skin

The interest in probiotics for immunity has passed its peak but a 24-month rise in internet searches for prebiotics and skin health is more than a passing trend, according to new insights from Lumina Intelligence.

The online market analysts at Lumina have added ‘prebiotics’ to the list of keywords tracked in their microbiome search trends analysis dashboard named Dr Google​, revealing how internet users are searching for this trending ingredien​t. 

The interactive dashboard tracks search data from Google Ads Keyword Planner for nearly 900 keywords in the probiotics (and now prebiotics) space.

This month’s report (September 2018-2020) reveals that the keywords most regularly associated with prebiotics in the last 24 months include: kids, dogs, IBS, women’s health, constipation, weight loss, baby, and skin.

Another keyword regularly searched is ‘what’, with regularly searched phrases including ‘what are prebiotics for’, and ‘what to look for in a prebiotic’.

Lumina’s Digital Marketing Manager Zoe Coleman says creating good content that answers these broader queries can help brands get in front of consumers before competitors, by targeting them during the early stages of their online research.

Blog posts or articles that robustly address these common questions are more likely to appear near the top of the search results page on Google when a potential new customer types them into the search bar​.”

When drilling down specifically into keywords most frequently searched alongside ‘women’s health’, the stats show that key areas of concern are: yeast infection, pregnancy and bacterial vaginosis.

Doing the same drill for ‘skin’, the data shows that key areas of interest are acne and eczema.

Coleman points out that it’s also important to get a view of the macro trends by looking at the 24-month stats. These figures reveal that ‘skin’ has shown the highest percentage growth over the last two years in the prebiotics group.

 “The boost in searches around prebiotics and skin health mirrors the rising level of publicity for the skin microbiome we’ve seen in the last two years, for example in mainstream brands’ advertising on TV and on packaging. Consumers want to understand more about the role prebiotics have in products and their efficacy on chronic skin concerns like acne or eczema.”

Lumina Intelligence's data collected in January 2020 from 25 countries found 352 products from 186 global brand owners targeted at the skin microbiome – comprising 254 topical and 107 ingestible products. 23 of these products pertained to acne, 34 to eczema, and 343 to skin health generally.

In a recent blog post​ on the of skin microbiome focused probiotics, Lumina notes that the probiotic cosmetics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 12% during 2020 – 2030 (Fact.MR​).

Immunity loses momentum

Looking at probiotic related trends, the Dr Google tool reveals the rising interest in probiotics for immunity is still apparent but it has been knocked from the top spot (where it sat in last months report) in terms of percentage growth.

Instead, digestion has taken its place in poll position as the area of health with the highest year-on-year percentage growth, at 73% (September 2019-2020).

Coleman explains that real-world events often impact Google searches: “When comparing last month’s annual report to this month’s, it’s interesting to see that ‘immunity’ and ‘digestion’ have swapped places in terms of year-on-year growth.

"However, given that “immunity probiotic” searches experienced a huge peak in March as COVID-19 unravelled it’s not surprising that six months afterwards we are starting to see this inflated YOY growth settle down.”

It’s vital to put any findings on search volume growth into context. Seasonality, for example, can have a big impact on the number of searches in the supplements sector – so looking at YOY data rather than changes over a few months will help you see the real deal. 

“Online search data is an extremely useful resource for market research but it’s just one part of the puzzle. Putting it into context with other data like consumer reviews will give you the most accurate picture of how things are evolving in the probiotics market.”

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