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Beard Vs Mo: The Battle Royale

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Introduction

November is a glorious time in Australia (and other parts of the world) as men unite for a common cause – to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer and depression through Movember. A great development is that now women can now also be involved as Mo’ Sistas through the move challenge initiative. Yellow Octopus will be getting behind Movember just as we were behind Pink Ribbon day last year with 5% of profits for the month of November going to the Movember.

But it does beg the question, how popular is the moustache these days? Long gone are the roaring mo’ days of the 70s where it was commonplace to wear a moustache. Everyone was doing it. Will the moustache stand the test of time? Or will it be ovhermingly swamped by increasingly popular beard?

The following data draws a comparison between the moustache and the beard and their popularity across time. How has facial hair changed in Australia and the US from 2004 until today? Which countries are beard countries and which favour the moustache? We’ve crunched the Google Trends numbers to find out. The data shows that after many years of jostling for poll position, the beard is widening it’s gap over the moustache and pulling away in the popularity ranks.

Contents:

Most Searched Facial Hair by Australian State 2004-2016

Western Australia revealed itself as the beard capital of the nation (100/100 popularity score) whilst South Australia (95/100) and Western Australia (94/100) were not far behind. Surprisingly, the hipster capital of Australia, Victoria, only managed 4th spot (92/100). Beards were least popular in the Northern Territory (71/100) whilst Tasmania (90/100) and New South Wales (86/100) finished middle of the table.

Moustaches were most popular in Victoria where Movember began (100/100), Queensland and South Australia (98/100) proved they’re just big fans of facial hair in general and Western Australia (96/100), New South Wales (94/100) and Tasmania rounded out the top 5.

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Facial Hair Search Prevalence Graph - Australia

Australia-Search-Graph-Moustache-Beard

Over the past 13 years it is the beard that has reigned supreme in Australia, being marginally more popular than the moustache across all states. The search popularity of the term “beard” has registered an average popularity of 28 out of 100 versus 25 out of 100 for moustache compared against all other searches nation wide.

The “moustache” line shows the seasonal spikes in November from 2006 six onwards as the social movement gained traction peaking in 2012. The year 2015 saw the first time where the beard became so popular that it eclipsed even the November moustache spike.

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Most Searched Facial Hair by American State 2004-2016

The trend in the United States was almost identical with beards becoming more popular across time when compared with moustaches. Again, beard was most popular across the 13 year period (32 vs 29). Unlike Australia, however, where all states favoured the beard, in a handful of US states the moustache was comparatively more popular. From January 2004 to October 2016 the moutache was more popular than the beard in Washington, California, Montana, Minnesota, Utah, Colorado and Hawaii when compared to overall national interest.

The beard is most popular in West Virginia (100), Kentucky (95), Oklahoma (93) whilst the moustache is most popular in Utah (100), Montana (93) and Washington (90).

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Facial Hair Global Popularity Map

Moustache-Beard-Global-Popularity

Global trends were the same as those exhibited by Australia and the United States with beards being more popular that moustaches (32 vs 30). The popularity of moustaches and beards was evenly spread across the globe.

When the data for beards and moustaches is combined we find that facial hair in general is most popular in Lebanon followed by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

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The Top 20 Beard and Moustache Countries Globally

Global-Popularity-Moustache-Graph

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Global-Popularity-Beard-Graph

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Conclusion

It’s clear that for now the beard has a strangle hold on the moustache when it comes to facial hair. But what does the future hold? Will the mo bounce back? In 10, 20, 100 years from now, what will men have adorning their face?

Regardless, Movember is an extremely important cause that we can all get behind. In fact, we should get Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to grow a Mo for Movember. Sign this petition to make it happen!

Methodology and Fair Use

The information presented in this work is generated from Google Trends, which tells users the relative popularity over time of searches for up to five different search phrases. Google Trends gives a score for “interest over time”, the maximum score being 100 and the lowest being 0, which corresponds to search volume.

It does not put units on this figure; this makes only relative and not absolute comparisons possible. This is because the data is standardised.

Example: If there are 10 searches for beard in May and 100 total searches for that period then in june there are 20 searches for beard and 300 total searches, whilst the absolute search volume for beard has increased, the popularity has decreased.

Google Trends explains the process as this:

Search results are proportionate to the time and location of a query:

Each data point is divided by the total searches of the geography and time range it represents, to compare relative popularity. Otherwise places with the most search volume would always be ranked highest.

The resulting numbers are then scaled on a range of 0 to 100 based on a topic’s proportion to all searches on all topics.

Different regions that show the same number of searches for a term will not always have the same total search volumes.

In the Australia Map and USA maps (animated .gifs), we determined the most searched type of facial hair (either moustache or beard) in each state for every month since January 2004 by limiting the view in Google Trends to that state, then manually recorded which term or phrase with the highest score for each month. If the scores were equal, a tie was recorded. For certain months and geographic locations there was insufficient data, which is depicted by the grey shading.

It must also be noted that Google Trends allows for data to be restricted by category. This was implemented for data collection with all results narrowed to the ‘Beauty & Fitness’ category. This gives a more accurate reflection of facial hair searches directly relating to personal grooming and eliminates outliers that may occur through spikes in popularity from pop-culture such as movies or news events.

The term moustache has been used summarily in this work, however data was recorded using both spellings combined using a search modifier (both the English spelling moustache and the American spelling mustache). This accounts for geographic differences in linguistics.

For the global map, data was not recorded on a country-by-country basis, rather Google Trends makes a comparison on a global scale. The data of each country is standardized against global search popularity for the time period.
For more information on methodology see the Google Trends help page.

YellowOctopus.com.au encourages the use of any of these results and the image assets found on this page. While the use of the images on this page is encouraged, we ask that a link to YellowOctopus.Com.au and this individual page be included so that viewers may be fully aware of the methodology and have access to all assets and resources that are available.

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