With people spending more time at home, search engines are becoming their window into the world outside.
Coinciding with the movement control order (MCO) and the holy month of Ramadan is a report by Google, “Rethinking Ramadan In Times Of Uncertainty” which analysed search trends.
Google product marketing manager Dina Barakat said that there was an increase in search for shopping and cooking for Ramadan, and companies are adjusting their services to address the needs of customers staying at home.
Consumers are also turning to delivery services, resulting in a 1.8x increase in searches for such services worldwide between March and April, with Malaysia ranking fourth, behind the Philippines, Singapore and Britain.
Recipes saw a similar spike in search in the same period.
Searches directly related to Ramadan started to spike starting mid-April, similar to last year.
Dina said people were turning to simple recipes and fun communal activities such as online cook-alongs.
The top three most popular recipe searches in Malaysia since the start of Ramadan are for air katira, roti john and seri muka, all staples at bazaars.
Search interest in air katira and roti john went up by 450%, and seri muka by 250%.
Air Katira – a drink made of pandan, dates, milk and almonds – was particularly popular during the fasting month, due to it being attributed as a cooling and nutritious drink, and having an unusual vibrant green colour.
Other queries related to Ramadan were on Ramadan bazaars in Selangor, local telemovie Ramadan Berteduh Syawal and “Spongebob Ramadan” for memes based on the popular TV show for kids.
Search for puasa (fasting) and zakat fitrah (tithe) also spiked, as most wanted to know the time for the start and break of fast, as well as locations and online options for paying zakat.