Has everyone who wants a digital camera got one?

After Google released the new Checkout Trends tool (I heard via SEL), I couldn't resist having a bit of a play.

It might not surprise some of you to know that we care about the market for sofas, so the chart comparing bed and sofa sales was interesting (especially the huge spike in sofa sales in November 2007).

More interesting, though was the search for digital camera (click for fullsize version):

Digital camera trend chart

Can that really be true? Did that many more people buy digital cameras in the 2006 holiday season than the same period in 2007? It is possible - obviously the attraction of any kind of gadget declines a little once you have one (see the ipod chart), but I would still have guessed (off the top of my head) that the 2007 holiday period would see more online digital camera sales than the same period in 2006. I could be wrong though, so I decided to look at the query volumes for digital camera:

Digital camera search trends

That seems to show that there actually might have been 1.5x as many sales over Christmas 2006 as Christmas 2007 - the search volume does look as though it was higher (and even higher the previous two years).

Is this actually a decline, or is it showing searchers becoming more savvy and using longer search phrases / more descriptive searches? None of our clients are consumer electronics people, so I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has data to share about this.

It is possible, however, that there is some kind of skew in the Checkout Trends data. The chart below compares digital camera sales (blue line) and book sales (red line) (click for fullsize version):

Digital camera vs. book trend

This chart confuses me on many levels. I am not sure the book market can have declined like that (even the books sold through Checkout, which would stop some of the leading players in the market being counted). I'm also not convinced by the equivalence between digital camera and book sales - I would have estimated that the book market would be many times the size of the camera market. Although cameras are more expensive, they're the kind of thing most people only have one of - whereas most people buy many books.

Jordan over at Marketing Pilgrim has also written about weird Checkout trends.

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About the author
Will Critchlow

Will Critchlow

Will founded Distilled with Duncan in 2005. Since then, he has consulted with some of the world’s largest organisations and most famous websites, spoken at most major industry events and regularly appeared in local and national press. For the...   read more