COVID-19 brought about what was quite possibly one of the biggest shifts in consumer spending habits in history. It completely redefined the retail landscape and ecommerce as a result. As you might expect, this also rocked the foundation of more than a few niches.
Some, like fashion, found themselves in what analyst McKinsey has described as a time of crisis, as people saw little use for fancy clothes during extended lockdowns. We aren’t here to talk about those niches today. Instead, we’re going to focus on the biggest winners of the pandemic — the niche markets and brands which, per CNBC, are thriving.
It’s true that when the virus goes endemic, and the crisis finally ends, things will trend towards some semblance of normalcy. However, it’s also a fact that there’s ultimately no going back to the way things were. Although flagging and failing niches may eventually recover post-pandemic, the currently successful markets will very likely remain so, even when people around the world can finally take off their masks.
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Although the fashion and apparel industries took a massive hit as a result of COVID-19, not every niche within that sector suffered. Clothing such as loungewear, lingerie, pajamas, and comfort wear collectively experienced a 226% uptick in sales, according to data collected by ecommerce platform Wix. The company attributes this to the fact that more people are working, learning, and exercising from home.
At first glance, this level of growth might seem unsustainable.
Consider, however, that for many, the pandemic served as an introduction to distributed work and distributed learning. Moving forward, even as we return to classrooms and offices, there will be a substantial percentage of students and professionals who instead choose to telecommute. Gartner, for instance, found that 70% of customer service employees want to continue working from home post-COVID, while PwC found that, in all industries that support remote work, 55% of employees want to work from home at least three days a week.
In other words, although sales of casualwear might decline slightly once everyone returns to work, this is still a very promising niche.
More people adopted pets during the pandemic than at any other point in the past several years. According to the pet sitting and dog walking network Rover, nearly a third of people in the United States adopted either a cat or dog in 2020. And these new pet parents have one thing in common with those who already owned a pet prior to COVID.
They’re pampering them like never before. Per pet expert BeChewy, American pet owners in 2019 spent $95.7 billion on pet supplies, nearly double their spending in 2019. The company mentions everything from gourmet pet food to premium toys and beds to wellness supplements and specialty medicine as examples of where pet parents are putting their money.
Meanwhile, further research from the American Pet Products Association found that the amount spent on pets hit a record $99 billion last year.
If you want to focus your niche a bit more than simply pet products, search data gathered by Sleeknote found that there’s a great deal of interest in terms related to high-quality pet food and CBD treatments for pets.
Fitness and Personal Care
In a survey by The American Psychological Association, 61% of U.S. adults experienced undesired changes in their weight since the beginning of the pandemic. Stress combined with changes in diet and activity levels not only caused considerable weight gain. Moreover, as noted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that deals with national health issues in the U.S., the pandemic’s myriad stressors have led to significant mental health issues in a large percentage of the populace, with numbers particularly pronounced amongst essential workers.
But what does any of this have to do with ecommerce?
For one, pronounced and unwanted weight gain during COVID-19 combined with quarantine measures has amplified interest in home workout equipment. This market was already experiencing considerable growth prior to the pandemic. Allied Market Research projects that its value will reach $14.8 billion by 2028, up from $11.6 billion in 2020.
Beauty and personal care products have also seen increased sales as people look to take better care of themselves, with Wix reporting a 166% growth in sales over the pandemic. Weight management and nutritional supplements are particularly popular, so that may be your best bet if you want to narrow it down to one specific corner of the niche.
Facing an Unprecedented Future
The niches described above are far from the only ones to have experienced growth during COVID-19. They aren’t necessarily even at the top of the list. Food and groceries, for instance, saw a reported 605% increase in sales, according to Wix.
With that said, the three niches described above are those that we expect have experienced the most sustainable growth. If none of the above markets are quite what you’d care to focus on, there are many others with nearly as much potential. These include, per Wix:
- Home & Garden (330% growth)
- Games & Leisure (312% growth)
- Flowers & Plants (198% growth)
- Books (151% growth)
It’s been nearly two years since COVID-19 first appeared. No one could have predicted how it would change the world, nor that, in some regions, it would remain a part of our lives for this long. The one thing we do know for sure is that this cannot last forever.
The pandemic has to come to a definitive end eventually. For many, that end is already in sight. At this point, the best thing businesses operating in the ecommerce sector can do is look towards the future.
About the Author
“Christopher Moore is the Chief Marketing Officer at Quiet Light, specializing in helping clients sell their internet-based businesses. Additionally, he founded Gadabout Media LLC to inspire, educate, and unite others by creating visually stunning content for clients.”