As COVID-19 spreads globally, many countries—including the United States—are mandating extreme social distancing measures. People are being urged to work remotely, schools have been canceled for weeks at a time and public gatherings are being discouraged, if not prohibited. It is increasingly likely that people will be self-quarantining in their home for weeks at a time and limiting their socialization for much longer than that.
These behavioral shifts are creating rapid changes in our economy. There will be both short-term and long-term impact as consumers and businesses are forced to change their behavior radically for weeks or months.
We are entering a new reality: the stay-home economy.
These shifts are also likely to change how people work and shop far into the future and accelerate the pace of changes already underway.
While some of the hardest hit industries such as hospitality, travel and entertainment industries are sure to come back to life, other changes might be longer lasting. Perhaps organizations will see value in remote work and allow employees to continue it after the pandemic passes. Shoppers may be less interested in going to the grocery store once they’ve grown accustomed to home delivery.
Many businesses will struggle with the shift to a stay-home economy. However, companies and content publishers looking to reposition their offersings should take note of the following 10 verticals as they are poised to thrive in this new economic normal, especially if they have a strong affiliate marketing program.
Remote work and education support
It is likely that millions of employees and students will spend significant time teleworking and participating in distance learning. As a result, there will likely be a spike in demand for items to ease this transition such as laptops, flexible cell phone plans, headsets, monitors and superior wi-fi. Businesses that provide this enabling technology and equipment can capitalize on this with special pricing and promotions.
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) and subscription-based brands
Home delivery services have been surging in the past decade, but as people are encouraged to avoid crowded supermarkets and big box retailers, you can expect direct-to-consumer providers of clothing, over-the-counter medicines, cleaning supplies, and even home decor to see an influx of new customers. It’s fair to assume many new customers will continue buying from brands with DTC and subscription-based business models long after the pandemic has passed. Consumers will be also looking for publishers and content websites that spotlight the latest deals and advise on the best products and these sites should expect a huge bump in traffic.
Physical and mental health apps
Two needs will immediately appear for many who are isolated due to COVID-19—the need to exercise at home, and the need to relieve the added stress of dealing with the pandemic. Brands like ClassPass can draw customers to their database of online yoga, pilates and HIIT classes. Meditation apps like Headspace and Calm will provide opportunities for users to unwind after a long day of solitary work or managing a household full of kids off school. Health apps like Noom will also see increased interest from people who will want to keep track of their health goals while they’re stuck at home.
Games, toys and projects
Parents, especially working parents, are scrambling to keep children entertained while they are home from school and isolated alongside their parents. You can expect to see families invest in toys, to keep their children occupied, as well as boardgames, projects and puzzles that can be done as a family in the evening and on weekends. Hasbro, which currently has five of the 10 top selling boardgames on Amazon, has major potential here.
Influencer parenting bloggers are already putting together lists of their favorites items in these categories and sharing them broadly. Your business may want to consider partnering with them.
As consumers are increasingly avoidant of public spaces, the restaurant industry will likely be hit the hardest. It’s no surprise that Dominos is the only restaurant chain whose stock is up this year.
Because people will be eating at home as often as possible, both direct to consumer meal prep companies such as Purple Carrot, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh and local delivery apps such as Instacart, Uber Eats and Caviar will have the chance to serve an increasing number of home diners. And as with direct to consumer vendors, these businesses may gain customers who try their services for the first time and stick with them well after the COVID-19 threat has dissipated.
Companies who deliver will also need recruit thousands of new delivery people in the coming months to accommodate demand, so advertisers who can help promote these opportunities will do well, and college students who are home early should be good targets to earn some extra income.
Streaming giants such as Netflix and Disney+ were already dominating the entertainment landscape, and they’ll only see demand increase. For working parents, Disney+ will help carry the burden of keeping kids entertained so parents can work during business hours, and in-home movie nights will become a leading social activity for individuals, couples, small friend groups and families.
But those aren’t the only players in the media world. Apple Music should see increased interest from people who suddenly have much more time to listen to music. And, of course, anyone who doesn’t already have Amazon Prime will also probably be enticed by its free and fast shipping, as well as a wide collection of streamable music and movies.
Audiobooks and e-books
With public social activities limited, kids and adults will need to find ways to pass the time. And while purchasing physical books may not be practical during the pandemic, consumers will find the instantaneous accessibility of eBooks and Audiobooks enticing when they are facing another weekend stuck in the house. This will be another area where Amazon will succeed with the easy access of Kindle, and audiobook vendors like Audible can thrive as well.
There’s also an opportunity for publishers who create book reviews and recommend book lists as people research what to read and listen to during their time at home.
Gaming and e-sports
Video games are a dominant market force as is, and they’re the perfect activity for both parents and kids who are isolated in their homes. Not only will game-sellers profit, but online gaming platforms such as Twitch will likely see a significant uptick in users who visit more often, and for longer periods of time. With these platforms drawing so many eyeballs, they’ll become key places for advertisers to invest in, especially to reach younger buyers.
Esports will also see a surge in popularity as well. While in-arena esports events will be cancelled, these video game leagues are prepared to move entirely online. An industry that was already tracking toward $1.5 billion in 2023 may grow even faster—and become highly valuable to advertisers.
Virtual and video tools
Even as the stock market plunged in the past two weeks, the videoconferencing leader Zoom is one of the few stocks up this year, and is earning press coverage for giving services to schools for free.
You can expect other remote software providers such as GoToMeeting, Asana and Slack to experience similar upticks in demand as more employees work remotely and government and non-profits learn how to go digital and virtual. This will speed up a transition that was already underway, and many organizations will likely continue to rely on these tools after they return to the office.
Virtual health services
Perhaps the most-dire need during the COVID-19 outbreak is for virtual health services. Individuals will be more wary than ever of sitting in a medical waiting room or standing in line at the pharmacy. Companies that either provide prescription deliveries, such as CVS, or allow virtual consultations with doctors, like Roman, will likely draw more patients that ever before.
Opportunity in the stay-home economy
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the stay-home economy that accompanies it, will change much of the world even after the threat has diminished. Many companies have an opportunity to provide vital goods and services during a stressful time—and build lasting consumer trust in the long-term.
Businesses in these industries can capitalize by creating a great initial experience for new customers. As people research products that can make isolated living easier, they will likely gravitate toward publishers and websites who have credibility showcasing products in those industries. Those publishers can make great partners for brands through affiliate marketing.
The stay-home economy will drastically change the business world. However, companies who are smart and use this time as an opportunity to innovate will look back on this as a turning point for their businesses.
Several of the brands mentioned in this post are clients of Acceleration Partners. To learn more about how we help them and other leading brands around the globe strengthen and grow their business through affiliate and partner marketing, visit our Global Services page.