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4 Sectors that are surviving or thriving during the pandemic

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4 Sectors That Are Surviving or Thriving During the Pandemic - ©iStockphoto.com/MicroStockHub

Many industries are helplessly watching their numbers plummet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as tourism, dine-in restaurants, and events to name a few. Others, however, especially sectors in the digital industry, are seeing notable spikes in activity and sales:

Streaming services

Streaming services are one of the very few industries that benefit from lockdowns as more people find themselves seeking entertainment:

  •  Gaming. Twitch’s global viewership went up 10%, while YouTube Gaming’s increased by 15% since the pandemic1
  •  TV. Netflix’s projected year-on-year subscriptions have grown since the outbreak:2
         30.9% – International
         3.8% – US and Canadian (UCAN)
  •  Music. US music streaming dropped by 7.6% during the week of March 13. However, there was an uptick in streams for the following weeks:3
               1.5% classical music
           2.9% folk music
           3.8% of children’s music

Virtual events

Virtual exhibition platform V-Ex recently shared that over 50,000 people recently visited its online trade shows, sales environments, and conferences.4 Consumers and businesses that were looking forward to attending big physical events, which were later on canceled, have shown great willingness to attend virtual events. This has encouraged many companies to shift their events online:

  • Google rebranded and shifted its Google Cloud Next physical event to Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect virtual5
  •  IBM decided to live stream its IBM Think 2020 developer's conference6
  • Apple, Microsoft, and other tech companies followed suit7

Digital media

According to eMarketer, total worldwide media ad spending is expected to reach $691.70 billion in 2020. That’s up 7% from 2019, but still down from their previous estimate of $121.13 billion.8  However, it’s still quite early in the year, so the numbers might take a turn for the worse—as more and more major events like the Olympics are postponed and advertisers continue to be cautious with their spending. Or perhaps numbers will improve, as China, the second-largest ad market and where a lot of global companies in the world trace their supply chain, is expected to lift its Wuhan lockdown on April 8, 2020.9

eMarketer also reports that they are seeing “early signs of a possible economic turnaround” and are “cautiously optimistic that a potential global economic downturn could also be short-lived, mitigating negative impacts on the worldwide ad market on a full-year basis.”10


Chinese e-commerce giant, JD.com, saw the sales of fresh food such as vegetables and common household staples, such as rice and flour quadruple during the pandemic period of January 24 to February 2, 2020 (the lockdown was imposed on January 23).11  In the US, Gordon Haskett Research Advisory surveyed consumers on March 13 and found out that one-third of them had recently bought food online.12 Among new online grocery shoppers, the retailer of choice was as follows:

  • 41% Walmart
  • 14% Amazon and Whole Foods
  • 10% Target
  • 6% Kroger
  • 4% Costco

For companies that are not in these four sectors, but that wish to emerge more competitive post-pandemic, KPMG’s Steve Bates had this to say, “You have to avoid the tendency to slash and burn your transformation and revert back to your traditional working model. There is going to be pent-up demand and when this period ends there is going to be a tidal wave of spending and you want to be in a position to take advantage of it.”13


  1. https://www.geekwire.com/2020/live-streaming-traffic-spikes-amid-social-distancing-streamers-offer-community-conversation/ 
  2. https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/is-coronavirus-boosting-netflixs-subscriber-growth-2020-03-08 
  3. https://www.nme.com/news/music/music-streaming-numbers-in-the-us-are-down-during-coronavirus-pandemic-2634037 
  4. https://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/over-50-000-visitors-turn-to-virtual-exhibition-platform-841772851.html 
  5. https://www.crn.com/news/cloud/google-cloud-next-conference-goes-virtual-over-coronavirus-fears 
  6. https://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2020/03/ibm-cancels-their-annual-ibm-think-2020-conference-but-will-hold-a-digital-version-of-it-online-with-streaming-content-se.html 
  7. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-latest-cancellations-how-the-coronavirus-is-disrupting-tech-conferences-worldwide/ 
  8. https://content-na2.emarketer.com/the-biggest-business-impacts-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic-according-to-business-insider-intelligence 
  9. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-24/china-to-lift-lockdown-over-virus-epicenter-wuhan-on-april-8 
  10. https://content-na2.emarketer.com/how-coronavirus-affects-global-ad-spending 
  11. https://www.foodnavigator-asia.com/Article/2020/02/12/JD-reports-surge-in-fresh-food-orders-in-China-during-Chinese-New-Year-and-coronavirus-outbreak#  
  12. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-17/the-nation-is-shutting-down-for-walmart-it-s-time-to-step-up 
  13. https://www.cio.com/article/3533993/doubling-down-on-digital-transformation-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic.html