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6 Business Models That Thrived During the Pandemic That We Can Learn From

No aspect of normal life has gone untouched by COVID-19. The pandemic has hit the American economy particularly hard, with previously solid stocks undergoing massive fluctuations and unemployment hitting record highs. Not all businesses, however, are being impacted by COVID-19 the same way.

While the recent economic downturn has forced many offices to close and some operations to shutter permanently, some companies are emerging from the rubble stronger than ever. The coronavirus crisis is far from over, so taking a hard look at what made these businesses succeed can help others understand how they can do the same.

If you’re hoping to make through a potential second wave intact, you’d better brace for it now. Here are six business models that can help you do so:

1. Telehealth

After having been slowly on the rise over the past few years, telehealth has suddenly become one of the country’s most explosive sectors. Telehealth’s growth falls into the same category as many of the business models on this list: People are looking for ways to get essential care without leaving the house, and telehealth is the perfect way to do so.

When you hear “telehealth,” you might just be thinking of Zoom calls with your doctor, but it’s actually much more than that. Web-based distributors that specialize in a particular line of products or services, such as Nurx with its at-home birth control and sexual health services, are helping patients across the country get the healthcare they need without putting themselves at risk. Any company that can eliminate the need to take additional trips outside the house is proving to be exceptionally COVID-19-resistant, and telehealth firms are at the forefront of that field. 

2. Home Office Gear

Almost overnight, half of all Americans began to work from home, and many weren’t fully prepared to do so. Most offices have cutting-edge software, hefty computing power, and lightning-fast Wi-Fi to support the work being done there. When transitioning out of the office, it can be difficult to adjust to the sudden lack of digital infrastructure, leading many workers to start decking out their home offices themselves. 

First on the lists of many workers were better desks, withstanding options from firms like Fully or Vari leading the pack. While other comforts, such as chairs or laptop stands, have also been successful, high-fidelity webcams have quickly become a key purchase for many. As meetings are increasingly held over Zoom, employees everywhere are looking for ways to come across as clearly as possible. Any business that can provide for a homebound employee is a business set up for success during the pandemic. 

3. Direct-to-Consumer 

It’s a simple principle: Consumers are now hesitant to leave their homes, so they’d rather have the goods they need to be delivered directly to their doors. Brick-and-mortar big-box stores have turned from staples of American life into potential hotspots for transmission, allowing companies like Amazon to swoop in and make a killing.

Companies offering specialized products sent straight to people’s homes are finding new ways to attract consumers, with many of them looking like they’ll stick around for good. Glasses provider Warby Parker is allowing customers to order up to five frames to try on at home before choosing which one to put their prescription into. Services like these are helping people maintain the experience of an in-person store without incurring the risk.

4. Digital Entertainment 

Another fact that shouldn’t surprise anyone stuck at home: People are looking for ways to keep themselves entertained when many of their previous options have been shut down. Whether it’s video games or streaming services, any platform that can provide at-home entertainment on demand is one designed for success in times like these. 

Netflix alone added more than double its expected number of new subscribers in the first quarter of 2020. Video game companies aren’t far behind, with many posting growth numbers at or above 35 percent. Previously in-person venues, like independent movie theaters, have started offering some of their films to stream at home, and mainstream chains are likely to follow. People are looking for something to distract themselves, and businesses that can provide that are poised for survival in tough times.

5. At-Home Fitness

After a disastrous 2019 ad campaign, it seemed like nothing could save Peloton’s line of stationary bikes — until COVID-19 struck. With people looking for ways to stay active without leaving the house, companies like Peloton that provide fully realized at-home fitness classes are seeing unprecedented levels of users. Whether that bump will last is another question.

As summer weather arrives and gyms begin to reopen across the country, it’s unclear what will happen to subscription-based home fitness systems along the way. Whereas some of the other entries on this list will likely prove to be evergreen examples of success, firms like Peloton will be forced to navigate a hot summer and a nationwide reopening before they can be christened genuine successes. 

6. Food Subscriptions 

COVID-19 hasn’t killed traditional grocery stores — in fact, demand at many stores has increased by a factor of nearly a third — but it has created a new type of store alternative. Food subscriptions are different from other direct-to-consumer services insofar as they will likely become a regular part of a household’s spending instead of irregular or one-off purchase. 

Services such as FreshDirect offer a wide range of products for their customers to choose from, oftentimes greatly expanding on the options found in local grocery stores. While the processing and delivery fees can be steep, the added benefit of additional choice — and not having to leave the house — will likely prove to be extremely persuasive. Food subscriptions might be an alien concept to some, but those who adopt it are unlikely to give it up once the dust settles. 

COVID-19 has brought an onslaught of unknowns, but a few businesses appear to have weathered the storm so far. By looking at what the most successful firms have done, you can get a sense of how your company can handle what’s coming next — and thrive alongside them.

News Reporter

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