Covid-19 has plunged the world into a recession that experts believe is going to be far worse than the 2008 depression. With the global economy brought to a standstill, several pre-pandemic thriving industries find themselves in deep waters with uncertain future. The global car industry which was preparing to make a transition to electric cars is seeing nonexistent demand. Cruise ships which were known as the best way to spend retirement money are now viewed as disease filled vessels. With most countries shutting entry from foreign nations, coupled with the nearly nonexistent desire for people to travel in this situation, the airlines industry is in an unprecedented slum. Businesses that called for social gatherings such as saloons, gyms, movie theatres are seeing grim days unlike ever before. Most businesses have faced negative consequences, as people are not moving or gathering. However, this unique situation has set up the perfect ecosystem for some industries to thrive.
Social media such as Facebook, Instagram etc. were used extensively before but have recorded increased user engagement during the pandemic. Streaming giant Netflix with a subscription-based revenue model has seen its subscribers in its country of origin, the US rise after a slight decline previously. All cancelled subscriptions together with new subscriptions are being made. Increased subscriptions are also seen in Bangladesh where streaming is viewed as a luxury. Besides self-entertainment, the use of these platforms also extends to necessary activities. Students all over the world have turned to online meeting platforms like Zoom, WebEx, and others. Education is continuing through a virtual modality resulting in these platforms to experience unprecedented increases in their stock price. These applications are also used to work from home, a modality most white-collar jobs have now adopted. To give a perspective, Zoom recently hit 300 million daily meeting participants, which came as a 100 million increase in just three weeks. At the end of 2019 this number was 10 million which was built over the span of nine years.
Since outdoor physical activities and gyms are closed, apps that provide live stream workout sessions or workout tutorials and plans have also become exponentially popular. For instance, Peloton, an app of American origin just hosted the largest live exercise class with 23,000 candidates. The stock price of these apps has also shot up in a time when the overall stock exchange indexes are all sinking rapidly.
Covid-19 comes as the perfect storm for e-commerce operators. With brick and mortar stores being closed for the most part, consumers are in a way forced to adopt the e-commerce alternatives. Despite essential stores like groceries and pharmacies being open in lockdowns, those who can afford to, are opting for food and medicine purchases online. From a local perspective, it has become harder than ever to get an order slot on ChalDal or Shwapno online or Meena bazaar online. Pathao has also introduced new services such as Pathao Tong to deliver groceries and other departmental store products and Pathao Pharma to deliver medicines and other pharmaceutical products. And looking at this from a global perspective, Amazon has grown so much that it needed to hire 75,000 more staff to cope with its increased demand. Restaurant food delivery services have also experienced an increase in demand as people are meeting any of their restaurant food craving through platforms like FoodPanda.
Esports is an industry not many people would know about. It is basically video game competitions where players duel against each other in games like FIFA, League of Legends, Fortnite among others. This particular industry was growing in the past but now that all real sports are cancelled, a sudden exponential growth of viewers can be seen. Esports also featured players in actual spaces playing these games, but with the pandemic it has simply moved to streaming its events, something real sports could not do. Naturally, a lot of people who spent a huge chunk of their day following sports like the European football leagues now fill that void by viewing this.
Even though the current growth in viewership will not be permanent, there will be some proportion of these seasonal viewers to long term fans of Esports. In fact, French luxury goods producer LV has partnered with Riot games to sponsor the League of Legends world championship.
There were headlines made when the coronavirus was officially detected in Bangladesh, about people emptying out pharmacies and departmental stores of sanitizers, soaps and disinfectants. These consumer goods have experienced an almost unprecedented rise in demand due to the virus.
Other consumer goods such as rice, oil, lentils have been stocked by panic-stricken customers. Everyone is trying to ensure that they can go through potential periods of no food supplies. This mindset has led to the stocking of consumer goods. The same applies to perishable consumer goods. Although it is not possible to stock as much due to refrigeration capacity, people are still buying as much as they can store.
The demand for surgical face masks, N95 respirators is globally the highest recorded in history. Doctors and nurses working in environments filled with contagious patients require greater protection than just face masks, causing the demand for PPE or Personal Protective Equipment to surge. Worldwide fabric producers are trying to meet the demand for these products despite facing risks of infection outbursts within factory premises. We can also see how the garment factories of our country were opened in this situation, despite featuring tightly packed work stations.
The writer is a third-year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. He can be reached at email@example.com