March 7, 2021

Whisky or Whiskey? - Keyword Engagement Around the World

Dr Peter Mowforth

Is it ‘whisky’ or is it ‘whiskey’? The answer can depend on:

  • Where you are.
  • Your background and tradition.
  • The brand association.
  • Context.

Let’s start by considering the first of these. The tool we will use is Google trends - just type ‘trends’ into Google to find it. What this shows is how often a particular search-term is entered when searching Google sites and applications relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world. The following results show the relative search volumes for the word ‘whisky’ and for ‘whiskey':

What this tells us is that the word ‘whiskey’ has a stronger communication engagement worldwide than does the word ‘whisky’.The second thing it tells us is that the product is strongly seasonal globally with the main peak being around the Christmas/New Year period. However, one thing that can be seen within the data is that the term ‘whiskey’ appears to have secondary peaks at other times of the year. These secondary peaks do not show up for ‘whisky’ searches. To gain a bit more insight into what is going on we ran four insight queries looking at ‘scotch whiskey’, ‘irish whisky’, ‘irish whiskey’ and ‘scotch whisky’:

The most interesting result here is that the term ‘irish whiskey’ features a double peak while the others do not. Interestingly, with ‘irish whisky’ it’s the second peak that shows the largest search volume. It didn’t take long to figure out that the second peak coincided with festivities surrounding St Patrick's Day. Given that this second peak will correspond with many millions of sales, it might suggest that Scotland might do well to promote St Andrew's day as a moment when you should be dusting off your quaich and buying a bottle to toast the Nation’s saint.The final item of analysis was to get some insight into where the search volumes were taking place. Using the last set of results, we looked to see where each of the four search terms was most popular with results shown below:

We had expected that the data was simply going to show was the schism in the world between those of Irish heritage who add an ‘e’ and those of Scottish heritage that don’t. Instead, the results were much more interesting.As expected, no part of the world has a dominant search volume for ‘Scotch whiskey’ which, for those in the know is something of an oxymoron. There is then only one part of the world where ‘Irish whiskey’ dominates and there is no surprise that that is for the country of Ireland. What is fascinating though is that the rest of the planet has a dominant favourite tipple of Scotch. However, while it’s the Scottish product that dominates, there is a clear split between the yellows and the reds with the yellows spelling it the way that the Scots intended and the reds that want to buy Scotch but spell the product the Irish way. While the marketing department may need to do more to help educate the market, the sales department probably doesn’t care. For them, they are just as happy selling to customers who know how to spell correctly than those that don’t.

Latest Posts from the Ecommerce Excellence blog

Want to be informed of upcoming webinars & events?