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Consumer behavior is more predictable around the New Year, when resolutions about self-improvement are especially top-of-mind. But are marketers targeting these opportunities effectively?

Now that it’s January, here we go again with that perennial push among consumers for firmer bodies, better diets, healthier habits. It’s that wonderful time of the year when everybody asks for gluten-free food or invests in aids to quit smoking or diet pills, all while eagerly filling the gyms with good intentions.

These consumer behaviors are very predictable by now, but are marketers using this predictable behavior to their advantage? No!

Year after year I see a lot of brands fail to tap into this pool of marketing possibilities, and I often wonder why. After all, in today’s digitized and data-driven world, we know exactly when and where people will search and shop for products and services related to self-improvement. Furthermore, we can interpret their aspirations and intentions like never before.

What a lot of brands don’t realize is that almost all of the services and products they offer can be marketed and positioned with these aspirational behaviors in mind.


For those that are ready to win the hearts and minds of all those New Year resolution makers, there are a few simple questions to answer:

  1. Does this behavior apply to my consumers?
  2. What are the right keywords and themes?
  3. What days works best for my consumers?

The perfect place to find the answers is Google Trends. Let’s take a look at some of the topics and themes that fit within the consumer’s self-improvement pattern, as displayed in Google Trends:

Stop smoking

Stop smoking graph

While the relative volume has reduced over the years, you can clearly see there is a large uptick in searches around “stop smoking” each December and January.

Hitting the gym

Gym graph

Interest in workouts and (Read more...) memberships continue to rise as an overall topic.

However, you can clearly see the uptick that occurs at the turn of each year, as well as a smaller uptick each September.

Healthy eating

Healthy eating graph

Healthy eating habits is an interesting trend; it peaks at the turn of the year but slowly fades away as the months go by.

Learning a new language

Learn language graph

Learning a new language does not have as significant peaks as some of the other themes, but there is still a 10 percent increase at the turn of each year. In addition to that, purchase-related terms see a 20 percent increase.

Saving money

There are many industries and businesses that can benefit from the increase in people’s desire to make the next year better than the last, as exhibited in the Google Trends data above.

In fact, you can take almost any kind of business and apply it to this betterment model – even something like finance can have positive ambition attached to it. This graph shows searches for savings accounts:

Save money graph

As you can see, everyone suddenly wants to improve how they manage their money around the New Year.

What are the opportunities around consumer behavior?

Now that New Year’s Eve has come and gone and we’re officially in January, you may be wondering if marketers that didn’t begin preparing earlier have already missed the boat, or if the opportunity to capture new customers or increase sales is still available.

Fortunately, the good news is that there’s still time to capitalize on some of this very predictable behavior.

Below is a selection of approximately 80 keywords grouped by topic. You will notice a clear uptick every December – the start of the self-improvement searches – but the more meaningful activity and purchasing does not actually happen until January. So, good intentions happen in December; acting on them occurs in January.

Keyword chart

Now that we see there’s still time to boost market share among those aspirational consumers, what’s the next step?

I recommend using Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to check your industry for potential opportunities.

Google Trends will yield insights about past behavior patterns, and Google Keyword Planner will help you find relevant keywords associated with what consumers are hoping to improve this month or year. In Google Trends, make sure you select your region (country and state).

After you’ve identified some opportunities, start with some simple paid search campaigns and cash in on this exciting trend. And once that’s all done, it’s your turn to go to your new gym, buy that smoothie blender, and stock up on organic food.

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