Research by Havas Worldwide Digital Matrix, which has a base in Leeds’s Queen Square but works around the world, shows that the number of online searches for electronic cigarettes has doubled in the past year, as people look for new ways to reduce their smoking habits.
The research was carried out using the company’s ReputeMe software, an online conversation “listening” tool which analyses searches and trends to establish what people are searching for online – including which related phrases and keywords they use the most.
Havas Worldwide Digital Matrix CEO Ravi Shanka said when looking into trends such as e-cigarettes, search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media should be used together as they both show what interests a target audience using words they have used.
“At Havas Matrix, our SEO specialists work closely with our social media team. They each use different tools, but because they are working alongside each other they can develop a better understanding of the keywords that people are using for different topics.
“Electronic cigarettes use vapour to take nicotine into the lungs, meaning smokers have their cravings satisfied without inhaling the toxins associated with normal cigarettes.
“Electronic cigarettes are relatively new to the market, but these figures show they are becoming increasingly popular.
“People search for them online using different phrases, such as ‘e-cigarette’ and ‘e-liquid’, but all of the different terms have shown a significant increase in interest over the last year.”
The number of people in the UK using electronic cigarettes more than doubled between 2010 and 2012 to around 650,000 last summer. By the end of 2012, six per cent of UK smokers were thought to have switched to electronic cigarettes and the number using them could now be as high as 800,000.
Havas Worldwide Digital Matrix’s research shows that the number of people in the UK searching online for electronic cigarettes every month is more than 300,000, while those searching for ways to give up smoking is around half that number.
Mr Shankar added:
“What was most surprising was that people in northern cities such as Newcastle, Leeds and Liverpool were searching online for electronic cigarettes in greater numbers than those in the south.
“However, London was one of the places where a lot of people were searching for terms relating to ways to give up smoking. That suggests that although people in the south are keen to stop smoking, they are behind those in the north when it comes to catching on to the electronic cigarette trend.”
Meanwhile, the number searches for terms relating to electronic cigarettes, including “e-cigarette” and “buy electronic cigarette” rose dramatically in the last week of 2012 and first week of 2013, indicating that new year’s resolutions were a strong factor in people’s interest in electronic cigarettes.
However, it did not fall again to the average levels of 2012, instead staying high for the first four months of 2013, indicating the trend is continuing to grow.