The Online Activity Boom: Gaming, Sex and Zoom
With most of us homebound due to the Coronavirus pandemic, South Africans have been spending significantly more time online, leading to an online activity boom promoting social connection and intimacy.
The virus has forced us to rapidly discover new ways to navigate our daily lives, including remote working, connecting with friends and family, staying in shape, and keeping ourselves entertained, transforming the internet overnight from being a ‘nice-to-have’ to a vital lifeline, enabling us to remain connected to the rest of the world while being shut indoors.
This has led to a marked shift in consumer behaviour and will most likely permanently change the way we live, work, socialize and shop. Video conferencing tools like Zoom have become the new way to conduct business and send our kids to school, video streaming services like Netflix have become absolute essentials in keeping us entertained, while apps like House Party and online gaming, have become the new way for friends to hang out.
While most industries globally have been adversely impacted by the crisis, business is booming in certain sectors with the pandemic triggering a surge in demand for their products. Some of these sectors include:
Exponential demand for video conferencing
The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to find an alternative to the face-to-face meeting. Downloads of video conferencing apps such as Zoom have soared since the outbreak of the virus as businesses pivot to virtual meetings, classrooms go online and exercise classes are done from the living room. During the week of March 14 to 21, business conferencing apps topped 62 million downloads. And with remote working set to play a key role in the global workplace going forward, video conferencing apps are anticipated to play an integral role in the way we work going forward.
Online gaming soars
Thousands are connecting via the world of online gaming. US telecoms company Verizon has reported a 75% increase in gaming traffic since the outbreak of the virus, and the World Health Organisation has endorsed video games as a recommended interim therapy, introducing its #PlayApartTogether campaign, with multiple organisations to promote responsible social distancing strategies from the comfort of your couch. Interactive online games don’t just provide a way of connecting with friends, they also an opportunity to escape to alternate universes where anxiety and stress around the pandemic can be briefly forgotten. This is especially important at a time when people are feeling increasingly isolated, lonely and anxious.
Sex toys sell out
With bars and clubs shut and tinder dates cancelled for the foreseeable future, the Coronavirus is transforming the dating landscape and has caused a significant and unexpected spike in global sex toy sales. New Zealand, the UK, Denmark, Colombia, Canada, Germany, Italy and the US have all reported an increase in sex toy sales since the outbreak of the pandemic. Ann Summers, a british sex toy and lingerie retailer, has seen a 27% increase in sales of sex toys compared to this time last year, while German Sex toy brand Womanizer has reported sales figures more than 50% above what it had originally forecast for the period running from 1 January to 6 March. With social distancing set to be the new norm for the next few months, experts anticipate a permanent shift in how people connect, date and interact.
Cash no longer king
The number of cashless transactions is rising as the Coronavirus pandemic limits the use of physical cash, making digital payments a necessity. This has forced many traditional financial institutions to fast-track digital innovation efforts. FNB and Absa have reported an uptick in their mobile payments as consumers look to avoid potential hygiene issues around handling banknotes. Online payment solutions like Payflex, who aim to simplify the payments process for both merchants and consumers, are leading the way in the adoption of innovative payment capabilities. All businesses in the eCommerce space need to ensure they incorporate digital payment methods that offer consumers convenient and flexible payment options into their websites.
While the Coronavirus has significantly damaged the South African economy, it isn’t all doom and gloom, particularly for the eCommerce sector. This global consumer behavioural shift and increased reliance on eCommerce to conduct their day-to-day lives is set to result in a permanent behavioural shift and preference towards online shopping. By investing in opportunities for growth and strategically tapping into the opportunities offered by the COVID-19 crisis, eCommerce sites have an opportunity to thrive.
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