Search, shopping and social trends can show savvy entrepreneurs where the next big business idea lies.
By: Emily Heaslip, Contributor
The combination of being forced to stay at home and losing access to “non-essential” services like plumbers and gardeners has encouraged many people to embark on home improvement projects. This is having significant market impact for hardware stores and other suppliers. “Home Depot’s shares are up 4.21%, and keyword searches for ‘how to snake a toilet’ and ‘home garden’ are both on the rise,” reported CNBC. The broader home and garden category saw a 140% increase in online page views from April to May 2020.
These shopping and search trends suggest that there will be a newfound interest in DIY or on-demand hardware and home improvement expertise. Some consumers will continue working from home, and therefore be more invested in turning their house into a personal and professional oasis. Others are more likely to swing to the opposite side of the spectrum and seek on-demand service: Think “Seamless” for plumbers.
Brands like Peloton and Daily Burn were already growing in popularity before the pandemic hit. Gym closures and social distancing orders have accelerated this growth dramatically. Statista reports that Americans downloaded over 2.6 million home workout apps in March 2020 alone.
Remote fitness is a massive category, covering everything from at-home exercise equipment to online streaming workouts to apps delivering personal training plans. Gyms are facing steep competition for customers with the advent of free online workouts that require little or no equipment. “The whole notion of a ‘virtual’ trainer will now explode into other exercise modalities,” predicted Forbes.
Meal kits and food delivery
Make-at-home meal kits from brands like Daily Harvest and Blue Apron, as well as restaurant delivery services like GrubHub, Uber Eats, DoorDash and Postmates are having their moment. Data showed that spending on meal delivery services was up 70% year-over-year in the last week of March, and order sizes were also increasing. “In the week ended March 30, the average order size was up 24% from a year ago, by far the biggest increase of the year, and the third straight week with a double-digit percentage increase,” reported Barron’s.
Even grocery delivery is on the rise. Downloads of Instacart, Walmart’s grocery app and Shipt increased 218%, 160% and 124% respectively. Convenience in the food category is a trend with the power to last. A 2017 report from the USDA found that “Americans aged 25 to 40 spend 55 minutes less per week, on average, cooking and washing-up than Gen X adults.” Meal planning is not a priority for younger consumers, and it’s unlikely that this pandemic has changed that trend.
Services for remote workers
Most experts agree that remote work is here to stay, yet the development of services specifically designed for remote workers lags behind. Freelancers and contract workers have different needs than traditional, in-office employees. Independent health insurance, accounting for 1099 workers, invoicing software and cybersecurity for remote employees are all going to see a rise in demand over the next decade.
“Many large and small companies will need to learn how to adapt their processes and systems to this new environment, and you can be the one who does that for them (for a nice fee),” wrote one expert. Help companies design a file-sharing system for remote workers, or offer tax advice to 1099 contractors on what expenses they can deduct from their tax return. Remote work may seem like a niche area of expertise at the moment, but it will soon be something about which every company needs to learn.
Home health and beauty
Like home improvement projects, consumers are becoming more comfortable managing their skincare and haircare routines from home. Hair clipper sales have soared 200% in the wake of salon and barbershop shutdowns. Investing in the beauty industry is generally thought to be a safe bet: The lipstick effect is the theory that in an economic recession, consumers are more willing to buy less costly luxury goods (i.e., lipstick, as opposed to an expensive handbag). Companies that offer beauty products, as well as education around how to use those products, will do well in the post-pandemic world.