The landscape of life and business is changing rapidly as coronavirus unfolds across the world, affecting essentially everyone and everything in some way. The stock market alone, which saw historical crashes over the last month, signals a need for rapid change in an already rapidly changing consumer economy.
As everyone is ordered to work from home, conferences get canceled, and non-essential businesses forced to close, fear is causing many companies to pause marketing expenditure to survive. Conversely, companies that stand to grow during this panic are doubling down on ad spend and marketing, making sure everyone knows their product or service can help them thrive at home.
Just take a look at the Glimpse COVID-19 Consumer Impact Tracker to get an idea of the companies and products getting all the attention right now. Companies that are on the list or doubling down on marketing–and growing while other sectors drop–all have one major thing in common: They provide a valuable alternative to in-person activities.
These are the companies that investors should be paying attention to during this time because it’s likely this entire experience will create major behavioral changes. Identifying early on which behavior changes will stick long after the mayhem–and which companies are best positioned to serve those behaviors–will be crucial for investors to come out on top during this.
Since every company and school was forced to figure out and implement virtual procedures to conduct business as usual–what are the hot services growing like wildfire right now?
Working at Home
Work from home has its own abbreviation now–WFH–because it’s our new way of life. While remote work may have naturally been the future of work, it was just adopted by the masses over the span of a few weeks and is the new normal.
The obvious big players that are seeing action are Zoom, Slack, Skype, and Microsoft Teams.
At the core of work from home necessities, are the communication tools–video, chat, and team collaboration. Zoom is the market leader for video conferencing while Slack is highly regarded for connecting remote teams to work together.
Of all the events that got canceled, many will switch to a virtual event and make use of tools like Zoom for their keynotes and panels.
Learning at Home
Schools–both K-12 and universities–have closed campuses and instructed teachers and students to move all lessons online. Educators who already had online tools to complement their in-person lessons are being forced to seek out tools to connect with their students at home.
This is where some of the usual suspects come in that you would expect to see an uptick in new users — like Slack, Zoom, and Cisco Webex.
Dropbox and Trello are popular tools for cloud storage and productivity among the educator crowds. Google is always a favorite as it provides a suite of tools that make collaboration easy for many people. G Suite for Education and Google Classroom are great to drive engagement and participation virtually with students learning from home.
Sports Coaching at Home
When schools shut their doors and went virtual, so did their athletic departments. It wasn’t only the school districts but all the recreational leagues as well. Coaches and athletes in the $19 billion youth sports industry found themselves in a similar position as teachers and students.
While sports tech has seen massive innovation over the years, nothing can replace actually playing the sport in real life–but we can take the training and coaching online. Virtual coaching is an interesting space because it requires specific features and functionality to be effective so we won’t see too much usage of the usual giants like Zoom and Slack here.
Virtual coaching companies–like Techne Futbol and MaxOne— that provide technology to specifically meet the sports education, training and coaching needs of young athletes will skyrocket. MaxOne is particularly interesting considering that it is sport-agnostic, scalable, and using the latest tech like computer vision and AI.
Eating at Home
Restaurants and bars are shut down–so bye-bye dine-in and hello delivery. Food delivery can mean different things when we’re talking about eating at home.
Grocery delivery services like Amazon Fresh and Instacart are booming in usage as shoppers want to skip their visit to the supermarkets.
Meal kit delivery providers, including Blue Apron–whose shares shot up 600% in 3 days–saw a huge surge in demand and had to hire additional support staff.
For hot meals delivered from local restaurants and fast-food chains, consumers are flocking to exactly who you’d expect: Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates, and DoorDash.
It’s not just large companies that are experiencing growth–but some startups are too–like NJ-based personalized food exploration app, Palatable. Palatable’s digital menus allow users to discover dishes served by local restaurants that satisfy their diet or allergy requirements–from the comfort of the couch–and without having to talk to a server to figure out what’s gluten-free. With Tinder-like swiping features to swipe through Instagram-quality images of new dishes, users can order take-out or save the meal in favorites to try later.
Entertainment at Home
In the gaming scene, the popular communication app Discord is seeing a surge with so many people playing multiplayer online games.
It’s no doubt that this is history in the making and the impact will be profound. The true question is of all the behavioral shifts happening right now–identifying which behaviors will become the new norm is how investors can find their newest investments.