// 05.18.2020

COVID-19: the businesses set to boom.

COVID-19 is reshaping the business world as we know it. Catastrophic shifts to supply chains, consumer behaviors and working habits have happened within a fleeting timeline. And whilst some trends such as the astounding surge in baking are likely to diminish, others will not. Even when lockdowns ease, people will retain some of the long-term impacts of this time. Many will have more anxieties about their health, some will be more proactive towards their mental health. Others will be wary of foreign products, opt to buy local food or choose to only shop online.

When the world settles into its new state of normal, whatever that may be, there will be those businesses who suffer and those who thrive. New ways of thinking, buying and living mean new opportunities, ideas and markets. Here are five businesses set to boom after COVID-19.

1. Digital streaming

Online streaming is erupting. Netflix reported a record 16 million new subscribers in the first three months of 2020. And it’s no surprise. People are stuck inside; they can’t go to cinemas, football matches or events. Streaming services are now the world’s entertainment, replacing normal ways of consuming films, television, theatre, news and gaming. Musicians are even starting to stream concerts. Some of this demand will exhale as lockdowns soften, but the pandemic is demonstrating the capability of streaming loud and clear.

And it’s not only the entertainment industry that is experiencing the streaming boom. As online content becomes the dominant way for consumers to interact with businesses, and businesses themselves adopt remote working, streaming is being integrated into day-to-day operations.

In April, Zoom alone racked up 300 million daily meeting participants. Seminars, meetings, workshops, presentations, product launches and international events can now all happen online, and businesses are using streaming to avoid losing customers whilst also finding new audiences. The world is experiencing what digital streaming can do, and that realization won’t go away.

2. Mental health

In a sobering Guardian article, clinical psychologist Steven Taylor states that mental health issues connected to COVID-19 – such as anxiety and stress – may cause up to 10% of those affected to develop long-term psychological disorders. Isolation, social distancing, uncertainty about the future and fear of unemployment are contributing to a society that is now acutely aware of mental health. Individuals are more concerned about their own wellbeing as well as those around them, and businesses are feeling the weight of workforces who may well be suffering.

Coronavirus is a turning point for the mental health industry. It's reinforcing the need for meaningful products and services driven by purpose, and combined with the quickening digital transformation, there are new opportunities to help more people.

Demand has spiked, with leaders such as Headspace reporting a nineteen-fold rise in downloads of stress-relieving meditations and a fourteen-fold increase of meditations for relieving anxiety. And during the last week of March, there were 750,000 downloads of mindfulness apps, a 25% increase on the weekly average from the first two months of the year. Unlike trends tied to lockdown conditions, the renewed awareness towards mental health is likely to stay. Now is the chance for companies to create real positive change.

3. Grocery delivery

Lockdown measures and heightened sensitivity to safety have resulted in the online grocery market booming. Instacart – an online grocery delivery startup started in San Francisco – took on 300,000 workers in eight weeks in an attempt to meet demand, and is on track to reach $35 billion in grocery sales this year. Whilst Instacart has their fair share of worries from scaling so fast, they’re emblematic of what’s likely to come for the grocery delivery industry, and many are reporting order volumes that were originally forecasted for several years away.

Some argue that this acceleration will slow down and that supermarkets will be amongst the first places people venture to. This may be somewhat true, but the growth of the online grocery market was already there. And whilst the mammoth increase in customers will put pressure on companies to improve the user experience or risk being left behind, it’s also forced millions to test online grocery shopping for the first time, and that’s promising for the future.

4. Gaming

It’s no surprise gaming is set for great things amid COVID-19 and beyond. In fifty European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries, 2.74 million games from sixteen major game companies were downloaded between March 16 and March 22, a 52.9% increase from the previous week. That same week, digital downloads in France jumped by more than 180% and Italy has seen dramatic surges in internet use, citing games such as Fortnite as a primary cause.

Gaming has long been perceived by the public as an addictive, childish pursuit, but coronavirus is reshaping that view. Now gaming is an escape, a community, a space for connection, an opportunity for social interaction and a legitimate sports arena. You can meet and make friends online.

And as live sports events are canceled across the world, sports enthusiasts are turning to gaming to relieve their itchy feet. Like what the outbreak has done for grocery deliveries, COVID-19 is prompting a global testing ground that may lead to exponential adoption rates. And If you’re still not convinced by this misunderstood industry, 900,000 people watched the first ever eNASCAR race.

5. Fitness

Home is the gym, for the time being. Once fitness centers started to shut down, demand for equipment enabling effective home workouts rose in colossal fashion. Peleton reported a 66% increase in quarterly sales and a 94% increase in subscribers compared to this time last year. Mirror– the futuristic virtual fitness system that looks like its name – has seen sales doubled.

Fitness is not what it used to be, and COVID-19 seems to have shaken the industry from its traditions even more. Classes are now streamed, Instagram is being used by fitness influencers as their primary platform and fitness apps are being downloaded at record rates. Digital technologies are primed for the current turn to personalized, distanced health, and whilst people will inevitably go back to gyms, the tailored, convenient routines established at home will remain a compelling option.


Next read: 5 startups devoted to your business' wellness.