As the pandemic ravaged small businesses across America, some were surprised — and conflicted — about their success. Industries such as hospitality, travel, entertainment, and food service suffered greatly. Others found ways to launch or pivot and rise to success from this unique situation. The pandemic changed the way businesses operate and how they would reach consumers and meet their new set of needs. What once worked was no longer applicable. And while most companies were already utilizing online services and platforms, the need for a robust digital presence shifted overnight. Companies had to pivot so frequently to deal with state-mandated shutdowns, new customer needs and requirements, along with pandemic safety protocols that left many unsure of what direction they were going.
With many businesses and industries creatively learning to adapt to the “new normal,” some have seen great success. Here’s a list of different business types that are seeing strong growth during the coronavirus pandemic.
As people work from home in unprecedented numbers, more consumers will incorporate new self-care practices and cleaning into their personal spaces. Companies specializing in cleaning services, products that disinfect surfaces, and medical supplies have become particularly visible due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s no surprise that professional cleaning services that sanitize offices, restaurants, and homes are equally in high demand, given the desire to keep businesses open and the spread of the virus at bay. In short, sanitation and hygiene are more important than ever. Everyone from governments, corporations, and individuals has a heightened focus on hygiene. As the economy continues to open up and more businesses resume operations, this will expand the deep cleaning and sanitation services market. It presents room for growth and space for innovation toward cleaning devices.
The alcohol industry saw an opportunity in this segment and did a quick pivot to not only join in helping the situation, but to also turn a profit. Distilleries used the machines and tools available to them and started creating sanitizing products to meet the supply and demand. It served as a way to help fight the war on the virus and generate income to keep their operations running.
Travel and outdoor adventures
While many businesses in the travel and hospitality industry went downhill, with Covid-19 cases rising and new restrictions in place, individuals, couples, and families sought out ways to continue traveling while practicing social distancing. With limitations in place that required people to socialize within their household, hotels cut back on allowing guests stays As a result, boating and RVing became two of the best ways to travel while still following the CDC guidelines. Though sales faced a downfall initially, as did most industries, RV and boat rentals and purchases surged by summer. It was a safer alternative and loophole in the restriction guidelines that allowed people to have a little bit of normalcy and get out of the house. The desire to venture out while still social distancing drove the interest and revenue volume to a triple-digit percentage increase.
New forms of entertainment
The coronavirus pandemic triggered a sales surge for small kitchen appliances across the U.S. amid the home cooking boom. The unique circumstance inspired more people to get creative by picking up new hobbies to keep busy and seek entertainment sources. With more time at home, restaurant closures, backed up delivery orders, people took to the kitchen to start cooking more, try new recipes, test out new appliances or learn how to cook. The need to eat at home, keep busy, have a stress outlet, and find an alternative entertainment form got people excited about cooking. Specifically, social media, and TikTok in particular, inspired many to try their hand at making bread, pasta dishes, waffles, and exploring ethnic recipes. One item really took the market by storm – air fryers! While they had been around for a few years before the pandemic, with more people adopting new lifestyles and spending more time in the kitchen, the lockdown inspired many to test out the new cooking super appliance.
Cooking wasn’t the only boredom solution to being locked down at home. Our entertainment behaviors drastically changed as well. Closures and CDC restrictions greatly impacted the film industry. With most people attending school online, working from home, practicing social distancing, digital media has become the leading entertainment and comfort source. Theaters closed, film productions stopped, and movies that were scheduled to premiere were put on hold. With no end in sight for the pandemic, the entertainment industry saw an opportunity to pivot and join several other businesses with developing a new digital strategy and embracing streaming services. Due to the success of Netflix and Hulu, many entertainment companies were already moving towards subscription streaming, but the pandemic accelerated that decision, and we saw a climb in streaming apps and subscriptions. Since the consumers couldn’t get to the theaters, they had to find a way to bring the films to the consumers and the place they were spending the most time… right in their homes. Although most businesses have suffered negative impacts during the pandemic, entertainment businesses are seeing a rise in subscriptions and revenue. Instead of going to a movie, concert, or sports event, we’re more likely to stream something at home with the added convenience. As a result, nearly all Americans subscribe to a streaming service, perhaps five or more. It’s important to note that this increase in television consumption comes at the cost of a decrease in other entertainment options, such as going to the movie theaters when they fully reopen. It’s safe to say that 2020 was a pivotal year for streaming.
At-home health and wellness
The pandemic has shaken up nearly every consumer category, influencing new consumer behaviors, stifling entire industries, and inspiring growth in others, including the health sector. With COVID-19 forcing everyone to stay home, staying healthy was an additional onset challenge that drastically changed the wellness industry. With restrictions in place, business closures and stress from uncertain times, at-home fitness and digital therapy redefined health and well-being and made it accessible for all. Health has emerged as a critical focus for consumers readjusting to their “new normal” way of life without fitness studios, gyms, or easily accessible doctors’ offices.
While complying with social distancing and other restrictions, the home had now become the central hub for everything. As businesses and consumers continue to telework, home fitness has become an especially viable business opportunity. Though people continued to shelter-in-place for their physical and mental health, they also needed to keep moving. This opened a gap for businesses to directly service people in their homes. Doctor visits moved to telehealth, online and mobile apps. Fitness equipment such as Peleton, online classes and programs, were well-positioned amid the crisis. Meanwhile, other companies that operated in-person have found ways to bring business into consumer homes. Many fitness companies and trainers used the tools available to them and took to social media and streaming services to reach consumers by providing virtual classes and training sessions. This pivot presented convenience for consumers and is sure to continue to grow.
While the economy was hit hard and companies had to scramble with a plan to keep employees safe, big tech exploded and thrived. The pandemic has driven high demand for distributed, face-to-face interaction and collaboration using video communications and data sharing software. With people told to work from home and social distance, the pandemic deepened the reliance on services from the technology industry’s most prominent companies while accelerating trends that were already benefiting them. Companies had to heavily rely on these software platforms to keep their businesses up and running. Daily in-person meetings and school classrooms could now function with some consistency. It also was the safest way for family members to stay in touch as people depended on these interactions to get through the isolation. While practically everyone used some form of these communication and document sharing programs, they have now become the new normal in business and daily life operations prior to the crisis.
Moving forward in a post-pandemic world
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we have to be agile and ready for anything. Changes in consumer behavior brought on by the pandemic changed the face of business structures, strategies and services. Many occupations have had to drastically reconsider how they do business and get creative with the Internet. Every industry is taking a hard look at what was, and making adjustments for the future of what will be—at the same time, doing their best to come up with contingency plans for the unknown.
The shift to a primarily digital business model is not new, it just accelerated much faster than anyone could have anticipated. Fortunately, many apps, websites, agencies, and online payment processors make the overall impact on business a little easier to deal with.
The real question to be asking yourself in this situation is not whether your business can survive a crisis, but rather, how willing are you to quickly modify what you offer as a business in order to adapt and stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing world? Success during a crisis can be challenging, no doubt… but these industries above have proven that it is entirely possible if you are willing to adapt.