Black swan events such as economic recessions and pandemics (or in the case of Covid-19, both) fundamentally alter the way businesses operate. Covid-19 has already hit industry hard and changed the way consumers and businesses behave. However, in the midst of major economic disruption, a few industries are thriving during Covid-19.
Past epidemics like SARS in 2003 boosted the growth of ecommerce companies like Alibaba and Amazon due to self-imposed and enforced restrictions on travel and human contact. Post the 2008 financial crisis, Airbnb and Uber grew in popularity as people realized the benefit of sharing their assets, be it rooms or cars.
Here’s a list of some of the industries that thriving during Covid-19.
1. Online Education
There has been a rapid transition towards online learning due to the current global crisis. Education technology (edtech) companies are at the forefront of this rapid shift due to school and college closures.
These edtech companies have taken proactive measures in order to ensure that the students’ education is not hampered during the crisis. Some of the measures they have taken include:
1. Offering free or discounted live classes
2. Conducting large online mock tests
3. Making question banks available online
4. Digitalising admission process
5. Helping other offline providers transition online
Starting in March, Byju’s – a unicorn in the Indian edtech sector – offered free access to courses for students from class 1 to 12, until the end of April. According to Business Insider, in the space of 7 days, Byju’s witnessed a 60% increase in the number of new users. That’s close to 6 million new users in 7 days – almost unthinkable just a couple of months ago.
Closure of the University of Maryland, for instance, affected the education of 41,000 students. The university has gradually adopted the online class model and now ensures that live content reaches all its students.
2. Online Retail
Buying behavior is changing to bulk-buying and online shopping. Some digital shopping habits built during the outbreak will stick—especially if brands raise their game in terms of offering a larger variety of products, better user experience and more effective digital marketing.
According to the Economic Times, online grocers like BigBasket and Grofers have seen demand rise by 3-5x. However, shortage of manpower and supply constraints have restricted them to operating at just 60-70% capacity. That’s millions of cancelled orders combined.
BigBasket is planning to hire 10,000 people for its warehouse and last-mile delivery. Grofers is clocking over 1.2 million daily active users on its app despite no available delivery slots. Apart from giving the regular pay the company is also giving essential goods to their employee, as added incentive, at the end of each day.
Once they can sort out their back-end and supply chain problems, they will be primed to take advantage of the increased demand.
3. Online Entertainment & Gaming
Platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ have all reported increased viewership. Netflix, at the behest of the EU, famously announced that it will cut video quality to reduce the burden on internet networks.
Online gaming platforms are also experiencing record traffic. Paytm First Games, Mobile-based online gaming platform, has seen a 200% jump in its user base in March with 75,000 new members. Some platforms are even offering games like PUBG Mobile for free in an effort to support the common cause.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has stepped in to encourage people to stay at home and play video games. A global campaign #PlayApartTogether, an initiative by WHO and gaming companies together with an objective to inform and encourage gamers to follow health guidelines of WHO by organising online events, offering rewards and promotions within their game platforms and on social media networks.
4. Digital Healthcare
Teleconsultations and digital healthcare are the need of an hour. The volume of tele-consults has gone up by several notches since the pandemic broke. MedCords, a healthtech start-up now caters to more than 20 lakh telehealth users looking for virtual consultations and prescriptions. Other healthtech startups like Practo, Dozee and Medlife, among others, are seeing a surge in demand with behavioural and mental health complaints rising.
A New Normal
Covid-19 has irrevocably changed the way businesses will compete over the next decade and possibly longer. Businesses have had to change strategies and evolve in order to keep up.
In spite of major economic disruption, there is a silver lining as some industries such as those mentioned above, have emerged stronger. A common thread is the requirement for companies and industries to strengthen their digital footprint to reach their customer. All the above industries have done just that and are thriving during Covid-19.