The VICE Guide to Right Now

Filipinos Have Been Searching for Beer More Since Lockdown Started

A study found that there was a 68.7 percent increase in Google searches for beer from February to March, when the Philippines first went under lockdown.
August 11, 2020, 9:03am

The pandemic has been a stressful time for many. And while some have found a way to relax through hobbies, TV, and exercise, it looks like people have also been thirstier for beer. In the Philippines, in particular, one study found that there was a 68.7 percent increase in Google searches for the drink from February to March, when the country was first placed under lockdown.

E-commerce aggregator iPrice Group found this after recording the number of times “beer” and its corresponding term in the local language were searched on Google, in several Asian countries and territories, from January to June. The study included six countries in Southeast Asia, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Among all the countries, the Philippines had the highest jump in searches when the outbreak was first declared a pandemic in March. While the number of searches for beer in the Philippines slightly decreased after that month, there’s still been a sizable increase in searches compared to pre-pandemic life. Those in the country entered “beer” and “serbesa” 88.3 percent more from January to June 2020, compared to the same time last year.

“We can't really conclude anything from this, but our hypothesis is…since it's just the start of lockdown, people may have been stocking up the most at the beginning,” iPrice Group Content Marketing Executive Isabelle Romualdez, told VICE.

Many parts of the Philippines, including Metro Manila, were first placed on lockdown in mid-March. With people advised to stay how and many stores closed, many turned to online shopping. Soon after, cities established liquor bans that prevented anyone from selling or buying alcohol. This led some to bulk-buy booze before the ban officially started.

The bans were eventually lifted but many cities are reimposing the policy since the government established strict lockdown restrictions again earlier this month. The Philippines has had one of the strictest and longest lockdown periods in the world and had 136,638 COVID-19 cases and 2,294 deaths as of press time.

iPrice found that Google searches for beer in the Philippines corresponded to 3.3 percent of the country’s “reach,” or the number of users who search when logged in to Google.

But it looks like Filipinos weren’t the thirstiest for beer, at least based on this data alone, which ranks it at third. Singapore topped the list of most beer searches, with 3.9 percent of the country’s reach. Hong Kong, meanwhile, came in second with 3.6 percent.

In fourth place was Malaysia, with 2.6 percent, and Taiwan came close at fifth with 2.3 percent. Thailand and Vietnam ranked low on the list, at sixth (1.7 percent) and seventh (1.4 percent), respectively. Indonesia was last, with only 0.56 percent of the country’s reach searching for beer.

But what kind of beer are people looking for? iPrice found that Heineken was the most searched in the region, followed by Asahi. Hoegaarden, Carlsberg, and Budweiser shared third place. Singapore’s Tiger beer is tied with Guinness at fourth place, Filipino brands San Miguel and Red Horse were fifth and sixth. Taiwan Beer and Saigon Beer tied at seventh, while the Japanese beer Sapporo came in at eighth. Sunmai, Chang, and Singha tied at ninth place, and Anchor made the cut at 10th.

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