Sailing through the Pandemic

By Degain Goyal

Locked inside, zero contact with strangers, interacting only through online mediums- an introvert’s dream really! Jokes apart, COVID-19 has been a tough time for all of us (well, most of us- more on that later)- everyone has had to adapt to changes in both work and lifestyle. Many people suffered both physically and mentally. Despite all this, there were many who converted crisis into opportunity and excelled in their businesses, overcoming challenges like supply shortages, operational difficulties and many other problems. The very nature of these businesses allowed them to take advantage of the existing conditions.

MEDICAL INDUSTRIES: Medical was the only field where no restrictions were applied. On the contrary, every country and every state made an effort to boost their medical facilities. Hence, this industry was expected to grow. For providing a better picture, it can further be divided into 4 sub-parts:

1. Pharmaceutical- Pharmaceutical industry covers the development and distribution of drugs, antibiotics, medicines, etc. This industry recorded a growth of 15% during the second year of the pandemic. The industry not only received a high consumer demand but also got big contracts from the government. In the United States, Phlow corp. Was handed a 354 Million USD contract to manufacture COVID-19 drugs. 

2. PPE and other equipment- The pandemic introduced the general public to masks. The demand for PPE kits and gloves skyrocketed. UN agencies alone delivered over 6.4 Million gloves and ppe kits to different countries. The world health organization has predicted a minimum of 40% growth in the global manufacturing of these kits and instruments during the pandemic.

3. Infrastructure- There was a shortage of beds, ventilators and overall support systems. The government invested heavily in this area in order to meet the requirements of the increasing number of patients. While most of the demand was subdued by temporary arrangements like converting schools, hotels, stadiums, etc. into hospitals, there was still a sizable growth in healthcare infrastructure, which is expected to touch $349.1 billion by FY2022.

4. Biotechnology- Biotechnology includes developing vaccines, COVID-19 tests, genome research, etc. The Government helped many firms through grants in order to increase research and supply of vaccines. Bharat Biotech got a grant of INR 65 crores to set up a new Covaxin production plant in Bengaluru. Because of all these developments, the industry is projected to grow by a CAGR of 16.4% byl 2025.

E-COMMERCE: Since physical stores were closed, people relied on e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. for shopping. These retailers also adopted, introducing no contact deliveries, entering new product markets, etc. Helped by the pandemic, this industry is expected to grow by 84% till 2024. However, this is only one side of the coin. E-commerce has also helped many small businesses by providing them a platform to continue business during this time. According to Amazon’s claims, in the past two years, 4.5 Lakh sellers have registered with them, 90% of which are small and medium businesses.

FOOD DELIVERY: Food delivery platforms like Zomato, Swiggy and doorstep grocery providers like Big Basket, Grofers, etc. grew leaps and bounds during this time. Even though they come under e-commerce, their rise deserves to be talked about separately. After lockdowns were eased, deliveries were allowed to be resumed but restaurants still remained closed. As a result, people started ordering online. Also, many restaurants have started adopting the cloud kitchen model, i.e. – establishing restaurants without dine in, with the sole purpose of serving through deliveries. Zomato’s revenue from operations doubled in 2021, after lockdowns due to the second wave were eased. The e-grocery market also doubled its value in 2020, reaching $3.3 billion. These businesses also provided jobs to many people who lost their livelihood during lockdown. Swiggy had 55,000 partners in 2018, a number that has now crossed 2,00,000. Besides providing employment to delivery partners, these apps also saved many restaurants from investing heavily in establishing their own delivery infrastructure.

ED-TECH: When schools shifted online, many parents also opted for buying specialized ed-tech services from companies like Byju’s, Unacademy, etc. for their children. Some did so because of concerns regarding the quality of education which teachers could provide online, while some did so just to keep their child busy. Whatever may the reason be, ed-tech truly grew during these times. Many ed-tech companies have doubled their customer base compared to the pre pandemic time, both in paid and free segments. Their growth is projected to continue even after the pandemic ends, expecting an increase of 6.3 times in the market size, in a time frame of 1 year. This was about the school level education market. Even the higher education market is expected to grow 3.7 times during the same timeframe. Undoubtedly, these platforms acted as big facilitators in online education. They helped over 90 million students in getting better education, ensuring that this aspect does not suffer due to COVID-19

However, these are not the only success stories. There are many other businesses that came out of their comfort zone in order to sustain themselves in this situation. Of course, all of them cannot be covered. But the key takeaway is, if businesses adapt to the changing environment, they will be able to maximize their gains and minimize their losses. The bigger picture that can be drawn is that there is a positive side to everything and those who are able to identify and build upon it are the ones who are able to get the results they want. So next time someone mentions how the pandemic has given them a tough time, ask them to flip their coin!


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