December 21, 2020
Looking Back at the 20 Biggest Trends of 2020
Oh, what a year it has been. What started with a two-week stint to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 pandemic turned into months of quarantining, social distancing, and diminished public events. But, there have been a few things that brought positivity to people during 2020.
Whether it’s a docuseries or fascination with bread, I think it’s fair to say 2020 has brought a strange sequence of trends that are unlike any other year.
After scouring the internet, we’ve highlighted the top 20 trends that, we feel, define 2020 so far. Our trends were verified using Google Trends’ “interest over time” search metric, which as implied, gives you insights on the popularity of a topic or search term over time. While trends are generally subjective, each of the trends we included were either created in 2020 or saw significant search volume spikes from previous years.
As we dove head-first into our first month of quarantine there was something novel and exciting about finding new ways to stay entertained and in touch with the world. Attractions and businesses that rely heavily on tourism and foot traffic had to get creative. By March 15th, virtual museum tours went viral online and provided people in quarantine with something new to do from the comfort of their own homes. It’s not just the small-scale exhibits going virtual, either. You can take an online tour of the MoMA and the Smithsonian today from your couch.:
Unfortunately, as March came to a close, a new reality set in. So, what does any bored person do with their diet let-downs? Make bread! Come March 22nd, people began sharing banana bread recipes all over the internet. Practically every time you opened Instagram, someone else was sharing a new banana bread. It’s hard to say for sure why banana bread specifically had such a moment in 2020, but the inevitable brown bananas from that initial panic-fueled grocery run may have had something to do with the movement.
Need to take your mind off the chaos of 2020? There are cute animals for that. While COVID-19 has been nothing to take lightly, the popular Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing has been calming people everywhere. Now, if only we could escape to the fictional world and land on bright and colorful islands in 2021. Here’s to hoping!
By late March, we had all scrolled through our entire Instagram feed and were getting desperate to designate our time to something non-virtual. On March 29th, jigsaw puzzles saw record high interest and sales. From movie themes to “impossible” clear puzzles, no matter your interests pre-quarantine, puzzles were a hobby we all had in common.
Apparently, our banana bread went stale and our plans of learning to cook dried up after a while. With restaurant dining rooms closed, online food delivery took the lead. Whether restaurant businesses were founded on the idea of to-go food or just trying to keep their doors open, it seemed like almost every restaurant found a way to deliver or offer curbside pickup. Even leaving the bar with your cocktail was no longer illegal in some places. As we individually navigated our new normal, there was always one thing to bring us back together— food.
If our lives hadn’t become odd enough due to the pandemic, our jobs and social lives were about to take a futuristic turn. As companies needed to keep operations running and families were longing to see one another, Zoom became a universal hub for people all over the world to safely come together. Millions of people began to utilize Zoom’s video conferencing services to stay connected. The platform quickly saw success in providing free 40-minute video calls.
While we can’t say the same for the people involved in the true story, the docuseries TV show, Tiger King, hit the jackpot with its streaming debut. Thanks to the most bizarre cast of characters and a perfectly timed Netflix release, Tiger King quickly became a highlight of 2020. Over 64 million households tuned into the big-cat story and finished the series with billions of questions.
Even our most basic pleasures got a little boring in 2020, including the consistency of our morning coffee. The increasing popularity of TikTok is likely to credit for this new phenomenon, but instant coffee made a new name for itself. Dalgona, or whipped coffee, went viral thanks to content in the app and people all over the world began to try this caffeinated trend from South Korea. The beverage is made by whipping instant coffee, hot water, and sugar together until you get the desired consistency. It is typically served over milk. While the trend was booming due to boredom and a need to switch things up, it seems as though most people have since returned to their regular cup of joe.
We all know there are some things better left to the professionals, but when you’re on lockdown and desperate for a trim, a DIY haircut seems like a good decision. Our favorite barbers had to stay home, too, after all! The hashtag #CoronaCuts houses more than 5,000 posts on Instagram, and most are not worthy of a photoshoot. While beauty experts took to social media and even video conferencing with clients to share tips and tricks, it's clear many of us just don’t have the same talent as our stylists.
By month two of quarantine, the newness wore off and some people got a bit lonely. Having extra time at home felt like the perfect opportunity to adopt a new best friend. By the end of April, pet adoptions skyrocketed and some animal shelters cleared out all their available pets as people, especially those living alone, wanted companionship. Because of the soaring demand, finding a furry friend to adopt has become much more difficult. Zoom has even been utilized to connect lonely people with a therapeutic set of paws. While it’s a scary time around the world, COVID-19 has had some life-saving effects on animals.
Need to get out? Well, you can’t go too far when you’re on lockdown. By the end of spring, people across the country found themselves spending more time in their gardens. Not only was it a safe way to enjoy the outdoors, but growing your own food helped fill time and provided a few extra groceries. The activity also provided a way to pass time during the lockdown and is said to have a positive effect on your health.
Did we spend too much time looking at that room we’ve always hated? Or do we think we’re all going to become the next faces of a home decorating TV series? Either way, home improvement became a hot topic during the 2020 pandemic as people everywhere decided to finally get after those repairs. We weren’t surprised to see that outdoor areas were actually the most popular space to spruce up during quarantine. Like the gardening trend, this suggests that people clearly wanted to spend a little more time outdoors.
Several instances of police brutality brought racial inequality to the forefront of social media and society. These events resulted in protests all over the country. Whether you were looking to join the cause or hoping to avoid the protest crowds on your way to work, the phrase “protests near me” hit an all-time-high search on May 31st.
The beginning of quarantine and social distancing recommendations caused the cancellation of thousands of weddings. With no end in sight by June, some brides and grooms decided they couldn’t wait any longer to find a new date and went ahead with their nuptials the 2020 way — via live-stream weddings . Virtual weddings were a hot search by the summer and couples were gathering their closest family and friends via video conferencing as they said, “I do.” While this may not have been what every bride or groom had in mind, there was one big benefit to this new way to wed— no need to cover dinner!
1960s, is that you? A psychedelic trend found its way back to the top in 2020, and there are a couple of reasons that could be. For starters, creating a new tie dye outfit can be a fun activity for your extra time at home. DIY kits can be found in large retailers all over the US and many places online. All you need is a white item of clothing! If DIY isn’t the route for you, it seems to be having its moment with loungewear everywhere. When your couch becomes the hottest club of the year, your sweat collection grows exponentially. If you’re 2020 chic, you better believe you’re ending this year with a matching tie dye set.
Unfortunately, endless scrolling through our phones didn’t lose its appeal in 2020. Instead of giving it up, we found a new app to binge. TikTok has been around since 2017, but 2020’s demand for content brought the app to the top by July. With consumers spending more time at home, the 15-second video platform became more popular than ever. Not only does the app allow you to scroll endlessly for hours, but the dances and trends give you the chance to participate in the challenges yourself, giving you another new hobby for your isolation to-do list.
Whether because our apartment walls all felt a little thinner during the lockdown or we saw record low mortgage rates, the housing market took an unexpected upward turn during the 2020 pandemic. Perhaps the desire for additional living space became hard to ignore as families and roommates found themselves quarantining together. By the end of July, millions of people were searching for their next big move.
Restrictions on group gatherings? Not online! By August, Fall Guys, a multiplayer online game that allows up to 60 people to participate, became a new way to get the gang back together. The battle royale-style gameplay is made family-friendly with jellybean-like characters. The rise in streamer views could be credited for the increase in popularity, but one thing is for sure, more time at home will always lead to more time online for gamers.
2020 hasn’t been all bad, right? Some encouraging trends have risen to the surface during this time of solitude. Whether we see eye-to-eye politically or not, we can all agree that voting is our civic responsibility. To cap off an eventful year, the Presidential election took place November 3rd and voters everywhere showed up to make their voices heard. Mid-September offered a pre-cursor to this surge with a huge increase in registration amongst young people who have had the opportunity to be more involved over the past few months. By election day, voter turnout numbers had already surpassed 160 million, a record-breaking number of ballots.
Similar to Fall Guys, Among Us is an online multiplayer game that found popularity during the pandemic. As streamers spent more time online with stay-at-home orders and viewers had more time to tune in, this game was quickly discovered by the end of the summer. Among Us allows friends and family to join one another safely online. The goal of the game is to complete tasks while trying to discover who may be the imposter aboard a ship in a space-themed setting. Not only did the game become popular, but it also created a whole new trend in online memes. Whether it was as serious as registering to vote and joining a protest or as simple as tie-dying, the trends of 2020 have been unlike any other year. It’s safe to say that a pandemic and an election year are the perfect recipe for a wild 12-month ride. With only a few weeks left, we can all agree that we have absolutely no idea what’s coming next.