Hitwise Study Finds Paid Search Clicks Have Overtaken Organic In Three of Four Summer-Related Industries

Inplace #2

Hitwise, a marketing intelligence company, recently looked at changes in searches in four major Home & Garden categories and found that in three–Furniture, Appliances, and Garden–clicks from paid searches have overtaken clicks from organic searches in the last year and even with DIY, which maintains a slight organic lead, paid clicks are closing in.    


“As the housing market continues to thrive in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, competition amongst home goods retailers has become more intense. Young people are taking longer to purchase homes, but a Home Depot study actually found that 57% of millennial renters see home ownership as an important goal,” says Rochelle Bailis, Global Director of Content at Hitwise (pictured top left). “These up-and-coming home owners are reshaping the Home & Garden industry by taking an active part in home decoration and repair, and by demanding seamless retail experiences, online and off.”

Furniture Highlights:

When Hitwise looked at the websites pulling the largest percentage of clicks from furniture searches, Wayfair and Amazon emerge in the lead. All five top sites have increased their share of search clicks from 2016 to 2017, with Amazon showing the most growth since last year.

All top five furniture players pulled over half their traffic from paid search this year, up dramatically from 2016. It appears that paid search has become the most pivotal channel for staying competitive in furniture sales. Hitwise also found that women 25-34 are 33% more likely to search for furniture online and that searches for furniture increased 19% YOY since May 2016.

Hitwise sees ceiling fans rise in search popularity. Searches around bedroom products also shot up in May, including smaller products (like bed covers) and big-ticket items (mattresses, beds):

“The furniture industry has been transformed in recent years by e-commerce brands like Wayfair and Overstock. The FBIC Centre on Global Retailing predicts the furniture market will grow to $111 Billion in 2019, and e-commerce will continue to play a large role in that growth,” says Ms. Bailis.

DIY Highlights:

It’s worth noting that paid clicks in DIY will likely overtake organic within the next year, as paid clicks were up 85% this May compared to the same period last year.

Unlike other Home & Garden categories, the third downstream website for DIY searches is YouTube, which hosts popular home repair vlogs and channels. This could also be the result of tab switching; as consumers research tools and DIY products, they simultaneously look up how to use and install them.

Fast-rising DIY searches during the month of May included saws and router bits, power washers, and most predominantly wallpaper. In fact, the DIY audience is 3,773% more likely than the average American to search for wallpaper. Home Depot pulls the most overall clicks according to Hitwise, but it also spends relatively less on paid search than other websites, such as Build and Build Direct (which rely solely on e-commerce). YouTube’s traffic remains almost wholly organic.

“Because home ownership in the US remains costly due to inflation and gentrification, many Millennials are opting to purchase and revive ‘fixer-uppers.’ Interestingly, however, DIY and home repair searches have remained fairly stagnant over the last two years,” says Ms. Bailis. “This is the only Home & Garden category where organic search still drives most of the traffic, thanks in part to how-to content and YouTube. It’s worth noting, however, that paid clicks will likely overtake organic within the next year, as paid clicks were up 85% this May compared to the same period last year.”

Appliances Highlights

Paid clicks surpassed organic for all five major appliance players in 2017, suggesting search has become an integral part of appliance purchasing — even in cases when it remains part of a multi-touch journey.

Hitwise found several peaks for appliance searches throughout the year, both during the summer and (to a lesser extent) during the holidays. Appliances – Search Clicks YOY

Fast-rising appliance searches in the month of May include summer specific products, such as grills and portable air conditioners.

Although it’s not perceived as the go-to site for home appliances, Amazon pulls the majority of clicks from appliance searches. Best Buy and Wal-Mart saw an even larger jump in clicks this year compared to last.

“According to PwC, most consumers (59%) still purchase their appliances at brick-and-mortar locations rather than online (29%) — however, this gap creeps closer every year,” says Ms. Bailis. “As with furniture, paid clicks surpassed organic traffic for all five major online appliance sellers in 2017, suggesting search has become an integral part of appliance purchasing — even in cases when it remains part of a multi-touch journey.”

Garden Highlights:

Similarly to the furniture industry, Hitwise sees Amazon dominating downstream traffic for garden product searches.

Amazon also more than doubled their paid clicks since May of last year. Their organic rate (along with Walmart’s) remains higher than niche brands like Wayfair and Hayneedle. This suggests broader retailers may have an organic leg-up against more specific brands.

There is always growth in garden searches leading up to summer; this May, terms around outdoor furniture and garden care have jumped. Another popular term which doesn’t quite fall under garden products is “tiny houses.” Garden searchers are 5,374% more likely to search for tiny houses than average, although it’s unclear whether it’s for living in or sheer curiosity.

“As we move into summer, we see a lot of the more classic summer purchases for backyard home projects, like outdoor furniture, lawn mowers and pergolas. On a wider scale, we see signs of a growing cultural interest in gardening amongst young people; as the National Gardening Survey reported, five of the six million consumers who started gardening in 2015 were Millennials,” adds Ms. Bailis. “Many of these young gardeners turn to social media to help fuel their inspiration, and are looking at flexible ways to garden, grow and thrive in urban and limited spaces.”

Fast-rising searches measured over 4 weeks ending 5/20/2017. YOY search clicks and paid click rate measures over 52 weeks in Hitwise Intelligence.