Cupcakes – not just a fad

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that London being taken over by cupcakes? There’s a cupcake shop on Goodge St that I walk past on my way to work which specialises in these sweet treats and it never seems to have a dull moment. Every morning there’s a sheeple snaking out of the door waiting for the privilege of paying up to £5 for one hit. What is it about pint-sized cakes? Is it really a fad? And what has happened to good old fairy cakes?

Google Insights for Search suggests that interest in “cupcakes” has grown by 400% over the last 3 years, compared to interest in “fairy cakes” which has grown by just 50% in the same period.

Source: Google Insights for Search

I did a couple of individual searches and got some interesting results. Technically, there’s no difference between cupcakes and fairy cakes– the Americans use the former, whilst the Brits the latter – for what is essentially a cake in a small cup. They do however differ in commercial intent.
With the growth in cupcake interest so has the investment in paid search advertising, with M&S encouraging us to indulge in these delights, which you can order online and pick up in store whilst the specialists will create bespoke ones for you, gift wrap them in decadent satin boxes complete with a matching bow and deliver them to your door step. You can even book classes to perfect the art of making them yourself at home.
Nationally interest is highest in England and Wales, the English, Scottish & Irish more likely to search for cupcakes and Welsh for fairy cakes.
National Search Interest

Data Source: Google Insights for Search

Love is highest in the South East. Poplar leads cupcake love; perhaps the Canary Wharf-type has a sweet tooth and likes to either locate the nearest establishment to purchase a few or have them delivered to their desk.

Data Source: Google Insights for Search

Farnborough leads the fairy cake love; perhaps the Home Counties homemaker is more traditional, prefers to use the British term and is possibly looking for Delia’s latest recipe or shopping for ingredients at Ocado.

Data Source: Google Insights for Search

Looking at high interest keywords for cupcakes, we are most likely looking for the different types we can buy and where to buy them, and when it comes to fairy cakes, we are investigating ways to create these delights.
Top “cupcake” and “fairy cake” search interest keywords

Data Source: Google Insights for Search

Data Source: Google Insights for Search


And if you thought it was just us Brits who have fallen for this cupcake craze, take comfort in one knowing that this is a global phenomenon. Our cousins across the pond lead the way with reports in the Wall Street Journal of fortunes made, Lenovo laptop sales pitches in Manhattan and blogs awash with tattooed arms. There’s even an Android CupcakeThe Business Insider does not see the cupcake bubble bursting (yet) and justifies this by saying, “Even when shared with friends, cupcakes are less socially taxing than ordinary cakes. A full sized cake must be cut up and placed on plates, served individually. With cupcakes, you just plop down a tray and walk away.” Comfort food in times of recession? This isn’t just a fad. I think these are symbols of post-noughties society preferring go at it alone. Theatre booking for one, table for one at a restaurant and tailored holidays for the lone traveller are no longer uncommon. The cupcake fits this mould perfectly. Also, constantly pressed for time, who really wants to faff about with big cakes, knives, side plates and the politics surrounding the biggest slice? For convenience sake, this is dessert innovation: made for one and you don’t even have to share it!
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4 responses to “Cupcakes – not just a fad

  1. Enjoyed the post, but made me hungry with all pictures of cupcakes, sorry, fairy cakes. Lot’s of fun to be had with search insights.

  2. Awesome article – seriously that makes PPC way more entertaining. On another note, check out manly cupcakes: http://www.butchbakery.com

  3. Sweet post (pun intended) you are right cupcakes are all the rage at the moment! Ever since I read your post I’ve seen them everywhere, even in as a lip gloss flavour in H&M! Ha ha!

  4. It’s insane. Everyone talks about cupcakes. They’re the new wedding cakes as well it seems. I know that shop you talk of, and to be fair the cupcakes they make are pretttty stellar. My girlfriend is also obsessed with cupcakes: http://www.veggiedelish.com/easy-peasy-chocolate-cupcakes/

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