It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has sent the world’s finances into complete freefall. With only workers deemed essential being allowed to continue working as normal in most parts of the world, many industries have ground to a halt. The United States, for example, has seen nearly a third of its entire population being impacted in financial or employment terms, leading to record claims in unemployment benefits. As a result, many nations are seeing economic slumps far worse than the one which hit the markets a little over a decade ago.
But, through all of this. there is a glimmer of hope. Some businesses, whether by pivoting their services or already being conveniently positioned to continue operating as normal, have been able to cater to customers’ changing needs and priorities during this crisis. At a time which has left no business unaffected in one way or another, here are five industries who have found a way to prosper.
1. Food delivery companies
As restaurants were ordered to shut as the magnitude of the crisis became apparent, many restaurants pivoted to a takeout-only model as a way of staying afloat, retaining staff and helping to feed the public. But beyond takeout, meal delivery and recipe boxes have also seen a surge in popularity. Not only have such services provided relief for supermarkets struggling to stem the panic buying of items, but they’ve also eliminated the need to make trips to the grocery store, helping to reduce the rate of transmission in the process.
Bloomberg recently pointed out HelloFresh’s stock market success, with shares in the company up by almost 60%. And while brands like HelloFresh and Blue Apron pride themselves on their diversity, companies who specialize in one specific type of meal are also thriving. Take Pasta Evangelists, who deliver fresh pasta and sauces from an ever-changing roster of recipes direct to customers’ doors. In response to COVID-19, the recipe box provider teamed up with Age UK to create pasta care packages that could be sent to the elderly and other loved ones who could not risk food shopping during the crisis.
2. Digital entertainment
It comes as no surprise that, with cinemas and theatres shuttered, and almost all live music events cancelled until 2021, people on lockdown are relying on online services to get their entertainment fix. Netflix, for example, reported 16 million new global users in the first three months of 2020 — including the first month of lockdown — while Disney+, launched at the start of the year, nearly doubled its subscriber base after stay-in-place measures were enforced.
Whether or not these subscribers will remain full-time users after lockdown restrictions are lifted remains to be seen. One week after its launch, Google saw four times more people searching for how to cancel their Disney+ subscriptions after the initial week’s free trial than for cancelling their Netflix trials. However, other platforms are aware of these sorts of shortcomings, and accommodating users appropriately. In the hope of converting long-time users, the streaming platform Mubi, which specialises in independent and arthouse cinema, not only offered users a three-month trial as the pandemic hit, but put its entire library up to view.
Much like the entertainment industry, live sports have also taken a huge hit in the wake of the pandemic. And while there are some interesting alternatives being promoted to scratch viewers’ itch for competition — satirist John Oliver’s recent sponsorship of a Dutch marble racing league being a prime example — one of the biggest beneficiaries is eSports.
Video gaming at a competitive level was already starting to become a big deal, with mass-attended tournaments regularly packing stadiums in recent years, and major money starting to find itself on the table for players and bettors. However, as Sports Intel has noted, “While almost every bet-able sport has been off the table for some time, eSports will march on,” with games “basically running around the clock, 365 days a year.”
4. EdTech companies to facilitate online learning
Online education has, in most countries, become the only method for children to continue their studies during the pandemic. The EdTech industry is, as such, experiencing something of a boom, as they establish or refine their e-learning capabilities and broaden their services. The World Economic Forum has noted that the sector was already being heavily invested in — over $18.5 billion last year alone. But with all levels of educational establishments impacted by the pandemic, companies like have been quick to adapt, from broadcasting lectures to quickly devising accessible learning content across a spectrum of ages.
NoCamels have noted that Chinese companies are particularly benefiting, with TAL Education offering free online lessons to stream as part of a team-up with over 300 schools in the country. In the United Kingdom, the government is providing some schools with up to $181,300 to improve their EdTech support systems, including access to training and webinars.
5. Video conferencing to facilitate remote working
Although video conferencing was beneficial before the full extent of the pandemic became apparent, it has never been more useful. Share prices in Zoom have skyrocketed, and Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Skype are all experiencing huge surges in usage. To meet demand, and encourage people to sign up, many are also temporarily waiving fees and lifting time limits for their professional packages, in the hopes that these new users will stay once restrictions have been lifted.
And just as big tech companies have led the way in so many other situations, we may end up even more reliant on video conferencing for day-to-day working tasks as flexible working becomes commonplace, even after lockdowns are lifted. Google, Facebook and Twitter have all announced their intention to “aggressively open up remote hiring” (in Mark Zuckerberg’s words), with the latter releasing a statement saying they would let staff “continue to [work from home] forever” if their personal circumstances require it. This has only been made possible by having video conferencing measures widely available and, with this increased popularity and usage, the increased income will also give companies like Zoom the money to further improve their servers and services.
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