Since the Coronavirus outbreak, businesses have had to drastically adapt to keep in line with social distancing measures and government restrictions. Remote working for many is now mandatory, resulting in lifestyle changes that have negatively and positively impacted industries globally.
Here are the sectors thriving right now:
The food industry has faced mounting pressure to keep up with the increased volume in home deliveries. Interestingly, data from Apptopia suggests the number of app downloads for US fast food delivery has actually declined between mid-February and mid-March, despite companies being transparent about the precautions they are taking to limit Coronavirus spread. This is due to the expense of prepared meals, as well as knowing the food around the table is safely prepared in the home environment. Because of these factors, the biggest growth in app downloads for delivery globally is supermarket brands.
A report from Nielsen tracking US CPG shopping behaviour stated that ‘In the two weeks ended March 21, upwards of 35% more people had shopped online for CPG items compared with a typical week. While grocery was a leading driver the week ended March 14, non-consumable items have carried the mantle the following week.’ Total sales (both offline and online) increased by $8.5 billion during the two weeks ended March 21st. That’s 15x the average rate of change for a typical two-week period.
The UK frequently made headlines in late February for being the panic buying region. Nielsen documented UK supermarket intaking’s growing by more than 20% between the 24th of February and 21st of March. The week ending the 21st of March saw almost double the sales compared to the weeks prior (43%). UK food delivery service Ocado had to temporarily go offline to get on top of their increased order surge.
In China, Alibaba has opened up the live-streaming platform Taobao Live to farmers for free. The foodie channel (with 41 million followers) aims to keep business going with local farmers so produce isn’t wasted during the Coronavirus crisis. 15 million kg of food was sold during the first three days and has been promoting farm produce since early February.
Video Conferencing and Social Media Hangouts
Thanks to enforced social distancing, apps like Zoom have grown in popularity. Zoom’s share price has jumped 50% this year to a valuation of £23.5 billion. Despite Zoom’s increased success, the app has come under scrutiny regarding data handling and security. In Taiwan, government agencies were instructed to cease the use of Zoom. Australia has also enforced the ban on parliamentarians and senators that previously used the app, as well as SpaceX, NASA and the New York City department of education.
Other notable apps are social media hangouts such as San Francisco based Houseparty. It is currently number one in the Apple app store in 17 countries, including the UK, Spain and Italy. This app has been around since 2016 but has arguably seen the sharpest growth in app downloads for video call software. This is likely down to features such as in-app gaming being favourable to the Millennial and Gen-Z demographic.
Social distancing and lockdown restrictions are boosting remote start-ups like Helsinki based Smarp (an employee communications platform. Co-founder and Chief Executive Roope Heinilä commented that Smarp’s inbound pipeline has grown 110% compared to Q1 of 2019. As the global crisis goes on, the growth should continue.
Apptopia and Braze’s 2020 streaming report states that the pandemic is already changing streaming behaviours. In March, there was a 30.7% increase in international entertainment and streaming sessions. The launch of Disney+ in November 2019 amassed 28 million subscribers in just five countries. They have since expanded to seven European countries in March.
This hike in consumer streaming habits has put pressure on the likes of Netflix and Disney+ to operate more efficiently. They are aiming to reduce their overall bandwidth with internet providers by 25%. In normal circumstances, Netflix has many streams for a single title that offer a different resolution. In Europe, the highest bandwidth streams have been removed for 30 days. Consumers will only see a very slight decrease in the quality of what they are watching.
Much like streaming services, gaming has seen a major boost in consumer attention. According to data from App Annie, the mobile gaming industry in China has recorded 222 million downloads of games and apps from Apple’s app store since February 2nd. Compared to 2019, that’s a 40% increase on average weekly downloads.
In North America, online gaming has increased by 75% during peak hours.
In Italy, the number of hours watched for live-streamed gaming content has increased by 66%.
The week ending March 28th in the UK saw sales of games and computer software reach a 193.5% increase. Audio-visual sales jumped by 46%.
Health and Wellbeing
Arguably the most prominent sector in these uncertain times is Healthcare. Now more than ever, consumers are putting their faith in technology to aid their health and wellbeing amidst Coronavirus fears. From 3D printed medical equipment to the usage of AI for treatment development, the demand for these services is at its peak. One of the most positive outcomes from the pandemic is this sense of community and helping one another. This is no more apparent than in mental health applications. In the EU alone, there are countless start-ups providing apps and services that help to reduce stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions. The mindfulness app Headspace is one of many companies offering its premium package service to nurses, doctors and healthcare providers for free.
Telehealth has seen a huge escalation in usage throughout the pandemic, due to the nature of the industry. Healthcare providers can safely diagnose patients whilst maintaining social distancing. It has also proven valuable in hospitals that are suffering from a lack of PPE. The Techcrunch article ‘Why telehealth can’t significantly flatten the coronavirus curve – yet’ featured some eye-opening stats on the state of US Telehealth. The largest virtual-care provider in the US is Teladoc. They are conducting over 100,000 online appointments weekly. Start-ups like RapidSOS are changing the healthcare landscape as we know it, providing a unique, life-saving solution by connecting IoT devices to 911 and first responders. Remote working for doctors is now happening in India, since the release of telemedicine guidelines on the 25th of March. As we look forwards, this implementation could change the healthcare environment permanently.
The fitness industry is also benefitting from the pandemic right now, despite mass gym closures. The Peloton app had up to five times more downloads in March than February. The exercise equipment company also extended the free trial of their app to 90 days.
As the World Economic Forum puts it, a ‘heightened dependency on digital infrastructure raises the cost of failure’. Moving confidential documents online exposes businesses and posts a security risk. As well as this, ‘inadvertently risky behaviour increases with more time spent online.’ Consumers will fall victim to malware and phishing scams the more time they spend online.
You can expect an increase in measures taken to protect sensitive data amongst governments and industries such as banking and healthcare. McKinsey sums up the huge undertaking of the cybersecurity industry: ‘The overarching challenge for chief information-security officers (CISOs) and cybersecurity teams will be protecting their institutions while enabling operations to go on without interruption. For example, cybersecurity teams at companies that provide web-based services to consumers must adjust their security programs to match scaled-up operations while securing a massive shift to work-from-home tools. At the same time, CISOs must make it possible for security-team members to look after themselves and their families during a health crisis.’
It’s important you personally take action for your security. Make sure you are vigilant on verification. If you’re installing new apps, are they coming from a trusted source? Check that any services you’ve applied for are legitimate and verify where your e-mails are coming from too.
What does Coronavirus mean for businesses?
No matter the industry, almost all of us are undergoing drastic changes in both our work and personal lives. Right now we must hold onto positive news and support each other. Where possible, we should extend a hand to the businesses that need our help. This crisis is unlike anything any of us have experienced in our lifetime, and hopefully, we will not encounter again. McKinsey’s article ‘Beyond Coronavirus: the path to the next normal’ details their take on how we can proactively reach the ‘new normal’ through this pandemic that whether we like it or not, will change everything.
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