Impact of Coronavirus on different industries: Neha Kulwal, Country Manager, Admitad India

Having reached the shores of over 120+ countries so far, the dreaded Corona Virus is making businesses face unique challenges in the interest of consumers writes Neha Kulwal.


The global outbreak of Novel Coronavirus has the world leaders coming together to fight the pandemic, introducing measures to control its spread. This scenario is leaving an impact on international businesses and industries, influencing consumer behaviour.

While the precautionary social distancing is keeping everyone inside their homes for the past two weeks and may continue to do so in the coming days, impacting businesses, it is not that global markets have not been influenced by a crisis like this in the past. In 2003, the spread of the SARS virus (also originated in China) had significantly affected the retail sector in the country. Growth in retail sales in China had come down to 4.3% in May 2003 from close to 8% in the previous month. The spread & fear of COVID -19 too has caused many important industry conferences to be called off, events cancelled, travelling halted, resulting in several missed opportunities for businesses. Shaking up enterprises, the Novel Coronavirus is leading to partial or full shut down of plants and factories, marking a staggering decline in sales, particularly in the online and digital marketing sectors in categories like Travel and Tourism, in an unprecedented way.

While the beginning of a calendar year brings good business for affiliates in the marketing sectors as top brands get active aggressively with their retailing strategies, this year, the impact of the pandemic is visible with the affiliate marketing sector reporting a staggering 84% decline in Food Delivery in the month-end sales of January, 63% drop in Apparel and Shoes, and 52% dip in Tourism and Furniture each. Goods from China record a 49% decline while the category of Mobile Offers marks a 22% decline in the period, as Admitad India’s report reveals.

Having reached the shores of over 120+ countries so far, the dreaded Corona Virus is making businesses face unique challenges in the interest of consumers. For the digital and online marketing industry, most of the target audience is online at home but the initial outbreak of the pandemic has massively affected the consumer confidence, resulting in people putting their purchasing plans on hold. This is reflected in the further drop of 45.70% in sales for the category of Goods from China, impacted by export and import regulations, in the past few days in March, 2020. In just about two & a half months into the New Year 2020, Apparel & Shoes, and Online Food Delivery have shown a further drop of 46% and 66% respectively, in the past few days, as the report mentions. Interestingly, the category of Online Gaming shows a dramatic 291% increase in just a fortnight, compared to the figures from the last month.

Every socio-economic challenge introduces a change in people’s behaviour. While there has been a rise in sales in the category of Online Grocery stores by around 20%, sales in Pharmacy rose by 76% after January 2020 owing to a sudden surge in demand for hand sanitizers, masks and cleaning agents, marking a sudden shift in the consumer behaviour from a 40% rise in the previous month. Financial Offers recorded an upsurge of 49.54% from February 2020. With shopping malls, convenience & vegetable stores closing down to ensure flattening of the curve of the spread of Coronavirus, it can be safely assumed that more consumers will be opting for online modes of shopping, like Online Grocery Stores for essential items.

As more and more people will be required to stay put to break the chain of person-to-person contact, restricting all business and personal activities to their homes, it is likely that online marketing industry will see an upsurge in the demand and sales in the categories currently facing plunges, like desktops, mobile phones, and digital equipment and home appliances, which collectively saw a decline by around 45% by the end of February 2020 from previous month’s sales. The current pandemic is likely to introduce a permanent change in people’s behaviour, as they become familiar with the convenience of online shopping. It is expected that once the world has successfully made social distancing a success in order to defeat the pandemic, it will throw a big opportunity for online businesses to capture the momentum and reach out to consumers trying to adjust to the social distancing protocol. The consumer is likely to readily respond to the new shift in such a scenario. Brands with online presence and affiliates in marketing, both must prepare now for the same.

Meanwhile, with the growing concern over the virus’ spread in the past couple of days, businesses and consumers must abide by all the government protocols and advisories issued, like partial or total lockdown in cities and many districts in the country. As the industries prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead, everyone must stay indoors, order online, and sanitize. Let’s stay safe!

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