This article looks at the changes in popularity of certain piano-related search terms. To do so we’ve used Google Trends to analyse various words and phrases entered into the Google search engine.
This is undoubtedly a simplistic approach to determining whether the piano is as popular as it once was. However, it does throw up a few interesting points to consider.
For the past 15 years, Google has recorded details of every search entered into its search engine. And the company provides access to this information, albeit in a reduced form.
All the data below refers to the number of searches made for the specified term worldwide. Each point of the graph is adjusted to reflect the total number of Google searches made at that time — this, therefore, takes into account the increasing popularity of Google. The graph is also scaled so that the period with the most number of searches is set to 100.
Unfortunately, virtually no data from China is included here, despite the country buying more pianos than any other — and the numbers are increasing. The search results take into account the different languages used around the world, but this can lead to inconsistencies.
Search Term: Piano
Here we see that the maximum number of searches (when the graphs peaks at 100) was made at the end of 2004.
Over the subsequent years, the number of searches has fallen to around 60%, however, more recently the decline has almost flattened out.
The regular peaks in the graph are for the month of December. Someone’s getting a piano for Christmas!
The search term is most popular (when compared to the total number of searches in that area) in: Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Search Term: Piano Tuner
Initially, the figures are fairly erratic (not sure why), but when they settle down after 2007 they do show quite a steady decline from approximately 60 to 30. The 2010 film “The Piano Tuner” and the novel of the same name by Daniel Mason (2002), may have skewed the figures, but only very slightly.
Most interest in: Finland, Netherlands, and Norway.
Search Term: Grand Piano
Here the graph shows a gentle decline, but with less regular December peaks. More detailed analysis shows that the increase in interest from 2016 onwards seems to be driven by Russia and other Eastern European countries. However, this may be caused by changes made in the way Google collects data.
Most interest in: Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
Search Term: Acoustic Piano
The term appears to have peaked in May 2010. This could be due to the fact that “acoustic piano” increased in popularity to distinguish it from “digital piano”. There is no regular December peak.
Most interest in: Philippines, Singapore, and Australia
Search Term: Digital Piano
The trend is similar to that of the search term “piano”, although the graph has remained fairly flat since 2011. There appears to be a slight upturn from the end of 2018.
Again the regular December maximum can be up to 50% higher than the mid-summer low.
Most interest in: Argentina, Japan, and Uruguay.
Search Term: Electric Piano
The graph declines slightly until 2013, then interest flips, and the term enjoys a slight upturn. This could be due to the increasing popularity of software models/samples of vintage electric pianos such as the Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer.
Most interest in: Taiwan, Finland and Denmark
Search Term: Pianos for Sale
The search term here is “pianos for sale” (plural), although the results are fairly similar when “piano for sale” is used. It was chosen to see if people are searching for pianos to buy online.
Again there is a lot of volatility prior to the peak of November 2009. After this, there is a marked decline, with possibly a small recent upturn. The December peaks are not that pronounced. All this would tend to suggest that there is still a decline in the market, albeit less than it was 6-7 years ago.
Most interest in: Ireland, United Kingdon, United States.
Search Term: Best Piano
The number of people using the internet to find the “best piano” rose up until 2010 and has remained more or less constant ever since. It would suggest that people have turned to the internet when wanting advice as to which piano to purchase.
Again there is a very pronounced increase in the run-up to Christmas.
Most interest in: Singapore, Canada, and Australia.
Relative Search Numbers
This bar-chart illustrates the relative number of searches for each term. There will be some overlap. It shows that there were approximately four times more searches for “piano” than “digital piano”.
The above graphs should not be taken too seriously, they are simply rough guidelines as to how people’s search habits are changing over time. However, they do tend to suggest that (outside of China) interest in the piano has dropped, which isn’t that surprising.
But it’s not all bad news. Most of the graphs seem to be levelling off. And the December peaks show that people still consider giving a piano as a gift.
Manufacturing and sales statistics offer more accurate trends, but hopefully the above is still of interest. If you want to undertake your own investigations do visit Google Trends. And please share what you find in the comments below.
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