Where do your fingertips take you to shop?
Buying online is second nature. When your phone dies, a hot video game lands, or you develop an urgent need for a three-way plug extender, your first stop is usually the Google search box. Muscle memory leads the way, and before you know it, you’re on a popular online marketplace buying a familiar brand of product.
For better or worse, these platforms and brands are likeable and/or reliable enough to seduce the world’s consumers again and again. And, in a world where retailers encounter consumers as a series of clicks, consumers are coming to see themselves as a sum total of their brand choices.
Even Amazon – the most searched consumer brand for the second year running – lives and dies on its brand identity: easy-to-use, cost-effective, and convenient. Amazon’s ideal user sees themselves as web literate, up for a good deal, and terribly busy. Guess what? Everybody thinks they’re terribly busy – especially when sitting in front of the internet with infinite three-way plug extenders to choose from.
Last year, analysts at BusinessFinancing.co.uk revealed the most popular brand in every country, using Google search data as the metric. Now, it’s time for an update. Here are the most searched brands in every country and U.S. state in 2022 and the most popular brands in six key categories.
- Netflix is the most searched brand in the highest number of countries (92).
- However, Amazon is the most searched brand by volume (335.4m monthly searches).
- Starbucks is the most popular brand in 143 countries, making it the most dominant brand in any one sector (coffee shops).
- Heineken is the world’s most popular beer, with the highest search volume in 77 countries.
Amazon and Netflix Are the Most Popular Brands in the World in 2022
Search-for-search, the retail and streaming giant Amazon is the most popular brand in the world – with 335,400,000 (335.4m) searches per month. The lion’s share of these searches (103.4m) is made in the U.S., which is a tad more than the next three countries (Germany, Italy, and France) put together. The biggest national search volume for any other brand is in Brazil, where Netflix gets 16.3m searches per month.
Amazon outsold Walmart in 2021, thanks to pandemic shopping patterns and is now the world’s largest retailer outside China. However, it is the most searched brand in only 42 countries, coming second to Netflix, which is number one in 92 countries, including Mexico and China. Netflix is number two by search volume, with users Googling it 140.2m times per month – just under half as often as Amazon.
Netflix is Top Brand in Europe… For Now
IKEA expanded its popularity in Europe to become the most searched brand in 14 European countries (up from ten in 2021), including Russia. However, the Bauhaus-influenced Danish design brand has lost its top spot in Finland to Netflix, which dominates in 15 countries – more than any other brand in Europe. As subscriber levels fall, Netflix faces a new rival in a Swedish streamer, Viaplay, which is launching beyond its Nordic base and boasts a particularly European roster of Scandi drama, soccer, and darts.
Amazon Dominates North America Search Patterns
Amazon has taken over from Walmart as the most searched brand in Canada, leaving Walmart as number one in just two countries: Dominica and Grenada. Amazon has also got into the ‘actual grocery store’ business lately, although its unfortunate pre-pandemic timing may have been a step too soon. The brand’s domination of bricks-and-mortar shopping is set to continue out of site, as Amazon provides point of sale systems to other stores rather than expand its own premises.
Chinese Search Giant Appears on South America Map
Amazon and Netflix dominate South America’s search patterns, with one exception: Baidu has overtaken Netflix to become the most popular brand in Chile. The ‘Chinese Google,’ Baidu has expanded into Latin American markets in recent years, and China’s long-standing relationship with Chile has blossomed in the wake of the U.S.-China tariff disputes.
BMW Among Favourite Brands in the Middle East & Central Asia
As with last year’s results, there are three ‘most popular’ brands in this region. But this year, the third most popular (eBay) has been replaced by BMW, which is the most searched brand in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The brand is evidently a status symbol in Tajikistan, where 93 stolen BMWs were found to be driven by “friends, relatives and business associates of Tajikistan’s president” in 2013.
Rest of Asia & Oceania: Netflix Searches Peak in China
Curiously, streaming giant Netflix has replaced Baidu as the most popular brand in China. Netflix has not launched in China, but it isn’t blocked. This means that searchers are most likely looking for something to watch via VPN – particularly since Netflix continues to invest in Mandarin-language content.
Popular Digital Services Face Fair Taxes in Africa
Huge digital brands dominate Africa’s search history, with Netflix (27 countries), Amazon (9), and Chinese vendor Alibaba (4) the most common first choices in 2022. In Kenya, where Paypal has taken over from Netflix as the most searched brand, the tax on digital services is doubling in 2022 – responding to a global movement to get multinational companies to contribute to the markets from which they profit.
The World’s Most Popular Consumer Brands by Industry
Just 11 brands make it to the top spot of any of the 167 countries with sufficient search data available, which reflects the pyramid shape of brand dominance in today’s business landscape. BUT narrowing the focus to one brand category at a time gives a clearer image of national tastes and preferences.
Heineken is World’s Most Popular Beer
Beer brands have a strong association with the country from which they originated but aren’t always most popular in their homeland. Guinness is most popular in 20 countries, making it the second most common top search – but Ireland, where it is from, is more likely to search for a Scottish brand, Brew Dog.
Starbucks is Most Searched for Coffee Shop in Nine Out of Ten Countries
Starbucks dominates the café brand map, as the most searched in 88.2% of countries with available data. That leaves only dregs for international rivals Costa and Pret, with local alternatives such as Espresso House (the largest Nordic café chain) dominating Scandinavia. The Israeli ‘fixed price’ chain Cofix is the most searched in Belarus, where – with 29 branches – it is also the largest coffee shop brand.
KFC Overtakes McDonald’s As World’s Most Searched Fast Food Brand
The big news in fast food is that KFC has leapfrogged McDonald’s to become the most popular brand in the most countries. McDonald’s has fallen from 75 to 39 countries since last year’s report, with KFC climbing from 65 to 83. The American multinational pizza joint Little Caesars is a new entrant as the most searched fast-food brand in Mexico.
Epic Games Dominates Global Gaming Searches
Epic Games remains the world’s go-to search for gaming, although the developer has ceded a few territories to Nintendo after last year’s near-blanket domination. The French video game publisher Gameloft makes an impressive show, dominating in four countries, including the African states of Gabon, Madagascar, and Nigeria. Gameloft looks set to capitalise on international interest by leaping from mobile to PC and console via its new Disney collaboration, a “life simulation adventure game” called Dreamlight Valley.
Consumer Interest in Apple Grows
Apple goes from strength to strength, adding 14 countries to its 2021 figure, for a total of 141. The effect is particularly noticeable in Latin America, where a raft of countries, including Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia, have switched to Apple as their most searched phone brand in 2022. Latin America has led a 15% global surge in the refurbished phone market – alongside India, which has also switched its top search to Apple (from Vivo.)
State by State, Most Brand Searches Are For Retail Platforms
For our U.S. states map, we have identified the brand with the most searches in a given state compared to its share of search volume in the whole country to give every state’s most ‘uniquely popular’ brand. It’s grocery and general shopping platforms all the way, with the exception of Massachusetts, where search users default to CVS Pharmacy – which was founded in Massachusetts in 1964. However, it is now headquartered in Rhode Island with branches across the U.S.
Big Fish, Little Fish
The brands in our study are mostly the Hollywood stars of globalisation: reliable, familiar the world over, homogenising culture at the expense of local talent. But while there’s much to be said for building a giant brand that earns consumer trust en masse, more and more consumers identify themselves with shopping small and shopping local – hence the disingenuously friendly, artisanal character that the biggest brands are adopting.
Through difficult times, the big digital winners in our study are those ‘go-to’ brands that you needn’t leave the house to go to. There are lessons for small businesses to learn from these (and vice versa), to be sure – but with excellent character and excellent SEO, plucky local firms can more than rival the world’s biggest companies in service and in search results.
For a full look at what you’re up against, check out our full data in the interactive table below.
METHODOLOGY AND SOURCES
We gathered a list of consumer brands from Forbes, the Financial Times, GameDeisnging.org, BrandDirectory, ICT Buzz, FashionUnited. WorldAtlas, and Interbrand, as well as industry publications and reports. We then shortlisted the final list of consumer brands, focusing on those that represent products and services. We excluded the likes of Google and Facebook.
We then used Google Ads API to extract search volume data, gathering the monthly average of searches over the last 12 months for brands alone (e.g. “Nike”) and brands with the corresponding sector appended to a keyword (“Nike clothing”) to account for the skew in search volume figures for generic terms and expressions, such as “Apple,” “Amazon,” etc. We did this for every country in the world with data available as well as every state within the U.S.
For the United States, the most popular brand was taken as the brand with the highest share of search volume in a given state within its category compared to the share of search volume in the whole of the United States.
The data was gathered in March 2022.
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