The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21 has been a massive blow to human existence. Millions of people have lost their lives or their jobs, and it has fundamentally reshaped the way we see life. However, in perilous times such as these, some business sectors have been crucial for the rest of us to maintain some semblance of normal times inside our homes. People working in these industries saw their business blossom as the flow of life moved away from the streets. In this article, we shall discuss positive impact of covid-19 on businesses by looking at top-5 business sectors accelerated by covid-19 pandemic.
Software and E-Learning
One of the immediate effects of the pandemic was felt in the job sector. As more and more people started working from home, it became necessary to facilitate a workflow similar to that of offices. This need boosted the software industry and certain tools rose in popularity seemingly overnight.
Perhaps the most breakout success is that of Zoom. This previously unknown video conferencing platform skyrocketed to popularity worldwide because of its ability to include a large number of users in one session. Prior to the pandemic, Zoom witnessed a modest growth between January 2018 and 2020, going from 25,800 to 81,900 active users. In April, this number rose to 265,400 and has since doubled again as of January 2021 with a reported 465,100 users actively using the platform now.
E-Learning is another sector of software that has seen impressive gains throughout 2020. As COVID spread fast, the first group of people to be moved inside were school and college students. For the first few months, most major examinations around the world were rescheduled or postponed indefinitely. This caused a lot of distress for students who were supposed to transition between degrees in that year.
While schools and colleges struggled to figure out a way to restart classes, E-Learning companies expanded their offerings. As of 2020, there were approximately 6 million students worldwide who were pursuing higher education through online courses. This shift in how education is imparted also coincided with the rising demand for coding, modern business skills, and digital design within the job sector. Such skills were imparted more efficiently by E-Learning companies.
In 2020, a large number of university admissions accepted online certifications as their usual methods of admission got hung up. The 2020 boost to the E-Learning sector is only set to drive it higher as several students have reported learning better using the internet than in the traditional classroom. As a result, Forbes predicts E-Learning to become a $325 Billion industry by 2025, as compared to $107 Billion in 2015.
The gaming industry was progressing well before the pandemic hit but reached otherworldly levels of demand as lock-downs were instituted in various parts of the world. A survey of the number of concurrently active users on Steam (an online marketplace for games) showed a 31% increase from 16.27 million to 23.59 million between January and April 2020. While the momentum slightly tapered off in the middle of the year, the numbers never fell to January levels and rose again towards the end.
When it comes to individual choice of games, multiplayer and battle royale, titles saw the sharpest increase in users. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which is a multiplayer first-person-shooter title and one of the oldest of the bunch still in active play, saw 1 million concurrent players in-game for the first time ever on March 14, 2020. Other games such as Valorant, League of Legends, and Dota 2 also witnessed massive growth in player participation.
This rise in popularity of gaming trickled down to the streaming industry, the unequivocal hub of which is Twitch. Data obtained from the platform shows a whopping 60% increase in the number of hours of content streamed between March and April 2020. From 1 billion hours of collective content watched, the figures rose to 1.6 billion hours as the first wave of the pandemic hit.
Similar figures can also be seen for Facebook Gaming. Prior to COVID, Facebook Gaming watch hours were steadily on the decline since the beginning of 2020. However, April saw a massive jump to around 285 million hours from around 150 million in March.
In the case of both these streaming platforms, watch hours have never fallen back to pre-pandemic levels, with Twitch hitting even higher records in October. So overall, we can confidently say that the gaming industry certainly received a significant boost due to COVID.
Food/Grocery Delivery Industry
The industry with most positive impact of COVID-19 was Food industry with a massive blow for restaurants and eateries that relied on footfalls to drive business. As a whole, the travel and tourism industry suffered, a major part of which is the business of food. With mass cancellations in flights, trains, and even public transport, the only way for a lot of people to get their daily rations was to have them delivered to their doorstep.
However, due to logistical delays, fresh produce wasn’t always readily available. Consequently, more people than ever turned to food delivery apps to get their lunch and dinner. This shift in consumer behavior was felt throughout the food delivery industry. During their second quarter’s earnings call, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called Uber Eats “a second Uber” that was “built in under three years.”
The numbers clearly reflected Khosrowshahi’s bullish sentiments. Over the third quarter of 2020, the number of orders on UberEats rose 135% year over year, and the company’s revenue grew by 125% to $1.45 billion. Q2 2020 also saw Uber Eats surpass the company’s transport service in terms of revenue for the first time.
Other major players in the space also saw significant gains in revenue. Grubhub reportedly served 30 million customers in Q3 2020, which is a 41% increase from Q3 2019. The total revenue generated by the Chicago-based company grew to $493.9 million within the same time period, which was 53% greater than the previous year.
Fitness Equipment and Telehealth Service
As the pandemic spread like wildfire across developed nations, places, where people could congregate, were swiftly closed down. This included gyms, swimming pools, and even some healthcare facilities. Whilst inside, people gradually realized the importance of keeping themselves fit. It soon became common knowledge that the virus is more likely to affect people who were above a certain age and immunocompromised.
Consequently, Yoga Mats became by far the most searched fitness equipment on Amazon and even ranked among the e-tailer’s best-selling products. Over just a week in March 2020, Yoga Mats rose from 32 to 18 in the Amazon category rank. Alongside it, Resistance Bands also started gaining popularity. Usually, a product that drops in sales at the beginning of summer, 2020 proved to be a completely upside-down year for Resistance Bands and other indoor exercise equipment.
Alongside fitness, the telehealth sector gained a lot of traction during COVID. Before the pandemic, the industry’s growth was slow. Cost, availability, and personal relationships with their doctors played a large part in whether an individual chose to obtain medical health online. With outdoor activity becoming restricted, most people had no choice but to opt for tele-medicines and with some push from the government, the sector flourished.
According to a report by Forrester Research at the start of the pandemic, virtual healthcare interactions were projected to cross 1 billion by the end of 2020, with over 900 million of them being COVID related. Just in the month of March, telehealth visits rose by 50% according to a survey conducted by Frost and Sullivan consultants. Providers such as Teladoc reported receiving over 15,000 requests per day for online video consultations.
The closure of entertainment avenues like cinema halls and theatres turned people towards OTT services. With good internet connection and home theatre systems becoming relatively commonplace, people found the convenience of watching a movie inside their homes very lucrative.
Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+ made substantial additions to their subscriber base over 2020. Netflix added a record-breaking 37 million paid subscribers in 2020, which is their highest since 2018’s 28.6 million. As of January 2021, the company has over 200 million subscribers.
Disney’s business followed closely in Netflix’s footsteps as the new service added 86 million subscribers within its first year of existence. According to a Nielsen report, Disney+ had seven of the top ten most-streamed movies in 2020, in terms of hours spent watching.
While Netflix’s customer base is mostly centered in America, with 74 million subscribers being residents of the US and Canada, it’s not like other countries didn’t see a revolution in their OTT services. India, for example, witnessed a tremendous rise of homegrown platforms like Hungama and Hotstar, while also seeing a wide range of Indian language releases on international stages. The latter was largely fueled by the shift in consumer demand due to which several prolific TV and movie directors and actors turned their attention towards producing content for OTT platforms.
The pandemic has altered our lives in ways that no one saw coming. While some of the changes that COVID made are temporary, others are gaining permanency. As business trends show, companies that got their jump starts during the pandemic are continuing to excel even as restrictions ease worldwide. Such statistics demonstrate how quickly people have adopted this alternate lifestyle and are sticking to it. But there is still a lot to be seen.
In any case, the only thing that we can say for sure as we emerge into this changed world is that things will never be exactly the same as before.