Thanks to mild winters and associations with older generations it’s a garment that hasn’t been mentioned over the last few years, but dare I say, long johns in the UK are back? My anecdotal evidence for this is that I’ve heard the term used a few times over the last week in various circumstances, and of course it is rather cold.
But what evidence online can be found to back up this idea?
Type this garment into Google.co.uk and you instantly, and unexpectedly, find that the AdWord competition over this phrase is fierce. Who would have thought there were so many retailers of this long legged, close fitting item?
This doesn’t indicate a trend per se. However, trying to determine using other tools whether a trend is occurring beyond the typical seasonal interest and that an increase over previous years in the UK is occurring, is quite hard. Most free trend tools out there show global data and often only go back 3-12 months. In this situation it often helps if the term is unique to the country being analysed, but in this instance the term used across the English speaking world. Care also needs to be taken as the term could also be used in association with Long John Silver. Deeper search results also reveal a band using the name.
However, bearing these issues in mind there are a few tools that may help.
Google Trends is the obvious first contender, as filters can be placed on the data including geographical and time. The graph below shows searches for “long johns” compared with “thermal underwear” in the UK since 2004.
As can be seen, the searches for “long johns” have increased since the end of last year, after entering briefly (no pun intended) at the end of 2007.
December 2008 saw almost a 85 percent rise in the number of searches against the average volume, for the search term “long johns”, and the CPC price is currently a not too unreasonable £0.71. By comparison “thermal underwear” saw an even more dramatic increase in December 2008, with roughly 74,000 searches against an average monthly volume of 33,100.
Facebook Lexicon also offers us some insights over time for phrases used by users, where we see a similar pattern:
However the tool doesn’t enable users to drill into geographical usage of the phrase.
Finally, can we learn anything from the blogging and microblogging world?
This is where things do get difficult, as I’ve yet to find free tools that
filter country data, however results from Nielsen’s BlogPulse service do show an increase in the term over the last six months:
Interestingly, this trend does not correspond with the “thermal underwear” results, which does seem to go against findings elsewhere but does seem to slightly more reflect the results of Twist, a Twitter trending tool (below).
Whilst this was partly a just-for-fun exercise, it does seem to indicate that long johns are on the rise in the UK. How many people will admit to buying and wearing them is quite another matter, hence this lovely poll: