Kombucha in California: Part 2 of 4

Changing consumer interests benefit brands that focus on wellness over health

This is a continuation of the four-part series of posts looking at the kombucha category and consumers in California. 

In Part 1, we shared data from a Searchabull report on the California kombucha category over four years. The report showed that California is the heart of kombucha in the US, and while overall search volume declined when COVID hit, this has since stabilized. We also shared a list of the top 20 California companies by number of Instagram followers and showed how this mapped onto a list of the top 20 brands by search volume.

In Part 2, we take a more granular look at consumers’ specific interests, note a potential trend away from ‘medicinal’ or strictly health-related searches toward overall wellness, and highlight the seasonal nature of interest in kombucha.

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Search Groups

Search ‘Groups’ represent categories of consumer search words that describe needs or behaviors that can change over time. Each group is an aggregation of many thousands of individual search queries.

Many search phrases (people rarely type single words into Google) fall into these eight groups. The report examines trends within each group.

Here, for example, are the top 10 search terms. The change in volume over the past three years is shown on the right. The steep decline in searches for SCOBY is part of lessening interest in home brewing, which will be examined in more detail in Part 3. Most noticeably, generic ‘kombucha’ searches dominate these top search queries, suggesting low consumer category knowledge and the need for further category education.

Looking at all groups over the past three years, we see most are declining; however, health and sub-brand searches are holding relatively steady. The search for specific Retailers, although small, is increasing. We will do a deeper dive into retail channels in Part 4.

There are indications that consumer interests are moving away from general ‘Health or medicinal benefits’ concerns to more specific terms like ‘Gut Health,’ ‘Diet and weight loss,’ and asking if kombucha is ‘Good (or bad) for me.’ Brands might consider placing less emphasis on ‘medicinal’ elements in their messaging and more on overall wellness.


Generally, in the northern hemisphere, kombucha searches follow seasonal patterns, including summer highs and autumn/winter lows. We can expect the reverse pattern in the southern hemisphere.

On a more granular level, a notable spike in overall category interest (i.e., not explicitly related to kombucha) for ‘no alcohol’ and ‘wellness’ maps to the growing interest in a ‘Dry January.’ These macro consumer trends are relevant to a kombucha marketing approach that balances proactive health, wellness, and taste.

Note that in the Spring of 2020 — when the pandemic hit – there was a marked spike in searchers for Wellness. This can be seen by breaking out each of the past four years:


Looking at consumer interests revealed by these Google searches at a granular level shows trends brands might consider when developing their messaging. Many Californians who turn to Google are still searching for generic information on ‘kombucha.’ This would probably be even more true in other regions.

People are looking less for the ‘medicinal’ benefits of kombucha than for Wellness-related topics such as “Is kombucha good for me?” and “What is the effect on gut health?”

As most brands know, there is a marked seasonal cycle to demand. The upcoming ‘Dry January’ period follows the decline in demand as the weather cools. Production runs should be timed to coincide with this cycle.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll look at the changing flavor preferences and the indications of a decline in interest in home brewing.

Tune in next week for Part 3!


The content of this article is accurate to the best of our knowledge and is presented for general informational purposes only. We have no financial interest in Searchabull and make no recommendation about their products. All data (except where noted) is from Searchabull. The opinions are those of the editor.

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