The most searched-for terms across 2021 have been revealed, offering new insights into the cultural trends and consumer demand that defined the year.

License Global

December 9, 2021

4 Min Read

Trends may be more transient than ever, but the world’s appetite for information will always offer an unprecedented insight into the daily lives of the consumer.  

In January, the (now famous) image of Bernie Sanders perched in the cold saw consumer searches for “Mittens” skyrocket. Skate parks reached a five-year high for search terms, and road trips saw people across the U.S. yearn to escape and exercise following lockdown. Sustainability and conservation were also searched for more than ever before as the global community looks to increase its awareness of ethical living.  

In the same vein, these global consumer-driven searches can shed light on the most anticipated movie titles, the games we loved the most across the year and the events that made 2021 a little more palatable worldwide. 


Led by the browser game of a cat making funny noises (aren’t all modern trends led in a similar fashion?) the video game searches of 2021 saw huge uptick in interest for “FIFA 22,” the upcoming “Battlefield 2042” first-person online shooter, “Monster Hunter Rise” and the best-selling Capcom survival horror, “Resident Evil Village.” Capcom itself saw huge second quarter profits as players bought over 5 million copies of “Resident Evil Village” to become its most popular edition in the franchise (source: IGN). “Call of Duty: Vanguard” also saw increased searches as Activision Blizzard released the latest edition in its hugely successful shooter franchise.  


Marvel’s “Eternals” led the most searched for movies across the world, with “Black Widow” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” following behind as a new phase of Disney superhero movies reached both cinema and Disney+. Remakes of “Dune,” “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Mortal Kombat” drove fans wild as those who loved the books and die-hard nostalgia gamers clung closely to leaks and reveals of the modern adaptations of retro properties. “Red Notice” became Netflix’s most watched new launch in the history of the streaming platform as it continued its globally-loved originals portfolio with titles such as “Army of the Dead.” 


TV Shows 

“Squid Game” has become one of the most watched shows on Netflix worldwide, and a huge bolster for Korean intellectual property. Whether or not the controversy of the show or the huge influence “Squid Game” had on the virtual water cooler was behind the searches, this Netflix property has become a smash-hit with licensed consumer products and has since been confirmed for a second series. Disney+ continued to be a core part of our annual search trends, with “Wandavision” and “Loki” flying the Marvel flag across the content market. “Cobra Kai,” “Bridgerton” and “Lupin” became the underdog properties that also won our hearts in lockdown, which saw huge opportunities in the consumer goods market.   


Sports Teams 

Sports were a huge part of the year worldwide, as most countries saw the return of spectator sports following the sector’s pivot to digital with esports during lockdown. The Euros became the fifth most searched for term across the year as European football teams fought for the first time in four years, which led Europe’s return to the sport in general. Cricket also had a huge impact on our search terms in 2021, as “Australia vs. India” and “India vs. England” were at the very top of the global rankings.  

Among the most searched for terms across the world, “Squid Game,” “DMX” and “NBA” led a strange cocktail of television, movies and games as well as sports and global events that shaped our cultural needs in 2021. What we search for in 2022 depends entirely on the landscape of intellectual property, brand and celebrity activity, not forgetting the shifting sands of lockdowns, quarantines and consumer behavior that will undoubtedly provide another interesting year for cultural trends. 

About the Author(s)

License Global

License Global is the leading news source for the brand licensing industry, delivering award-winning editorial content including news, trends, analysis, and special reports about the global consumer product and retail marketplace.

Through its print edition, website, daily e-newsletter and event publications, License Global reaches more than 150,000 executives and professionals in all major markets. The magazine also serves as the official publication for the sector’s trade events, which include Licensing Expo, Brand Licensing Europe, Licensing Expo Japan, Licensing Expo Shanghai and the Licensing Leadership Summit.

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