5 factors that will drive post-pandemic consumer behavior



If I were a budding founder building a product in early 2021, my first consideration would be timing. What will the world look like in the next 6, 12, and 24 months? Where will my product fit in the new context? Will it?

When venture capitalists decide whether or not to invest in you, timing is probably the most delicate criteria to assess. Often, the hard question is not whether a technology or a product will disrupt an industry, but when that will happen.

A key aspect here is the friction that product will face when bringing it to the market; for example: whether customers will have to substantially change their behavior to adopt that new product. With COVID-19 causing the most dramatic changes to human behavior in our lifetime, some consumer trends have been wildly accelerated, while others have emerged unexpectedly. This alone has altered the amount of time many products will need to become mainstream (or disappear).

So, if I were a founder about to build a product in early 2021, I would ask myself two questions, in this order:

  • Is this a problem that is worth a decade of my life?
  • Will the next 2-3 years be the right time to bring this solution to the market?

The second question is the most relevant in assessing the likelihood of my success. Nobody can determine exactly where we will be in a year, but there are things about consumers and the pandemic that we know for sure today. For example, that it will take a long time to develop population immunity via the vaccine, meaning many “pandemic” behaviors will continue to strengthen. Also, the process will take different lengths of time in every country, depending on their distribution capabilities and the population’s eagerness to get vaccinated.

When we project these into the future, we can understand what the markets might look like.

So here are some consumer behaviors that I expect to see happening over the next two or three years, and how founders can create products that are in harmony with those trends.

 The K-shaped recovery

The economy will especially suffer in emerging economies. The recovery has required countries to abruptly increase their debt, which will have to be repaid at some point. Regardless of whether you’re building a B2C or B2B, pay attention to the unemployment rate of the market you will target. An economy that can quickly create jobs will soon return to previous consumption levels, and it will gradually repay its debt thanks to tax collection. That will be the case in the United States. But it might not happen in other countries that have traditionally been dependent on industries that have been severely hit (and won’t immediately bounce back), like tourism. For example, in Mexico, tourism represents almost 10% of GDP. It will take some time before those countries get back to previous levels of consumption.

When it comes to consumers, we can probably expect a K-shaped recovery, where some consumers will do well and some others won’t, depending on their jobs. For instance, this crisis might be long enough to kill restaurants or hotels that had been severely hit. But at the same time, food delivery companies will be accelerating their growth; the recent success of Instacart is a good example.

 Remote work

Sir Arthur C. Clark’s prediction more than 50 years ago is finally happening: Men will no longer commute, they will communicate. If this visionary is right, cities and suburbs will be different moving forward. We are seeing a lot of buzz around founders and companies leaving Silicon Valley for Miami or Austin.

Large companies have already announced that their workers will continue to WFH beyond the rollout of the vaccine, and many people who have relocated during the pandemic won’t be rushing back to overcrowded and overly expensive cities.

This can only be good news for the startup world, as innovation is not a zero-sum game: The strength and uniqueness of Silicon Valley is compatible with new hubs popping up in other geographies, probably with a different DNA and focus.

For instance, if you are building a startup that also targets customers in Europe and Latin America, I cannot think of a better hub than Miami these days. The most determining factor when deciding where to locate your startup is usually the location of your team and your customers—but if your team is now working remote, you’ll only have to think of being within reach of your customers (and maintain good team communication).

If many jobs are no longer attached to cities, maybe socializing will be the main reason to pay high rents in the city. Business trips? I would imagine myself making less, but on average more meaningful, business trips, which means I will be willing to pay higher for those few business trips.

What does this mean for new entrepreneurs? For those looking at real estate, they’ll need to factor in future changes in the attractiveness of (former?) business districts and inner-city residential areas. For those into holidays and leisure, they may be looking at less demand but higher-paying customers. And as we spend more time at home, I expect to see a lot of innovation in this space: We are already witnessing fitness at home exploding as a new category, and gardening becoming part of our routine.

 Health

David Rubenstein, founder of legendary private equity firm Carlyle, said that he recently learned how fragile life can be. I believe the consumers in Western economies now feel more vulnerable than they did in 2019 and will pay more attention to health and prevention (for them and their loved ones).

We’ll probably start demanding more tools and services that enable us to track our health—such as wearable devices—for not just our physical but also our mental fitness. The same goes for products that connect consumers with faster, cheaper, and more accessible healthcare, virtually or in person. This includes technology that allows us to share our health data easily, facilitate diagnosis, or even improve self-diagnoses.

But don’t stop at human health: There are over 100 million cats and dogs in the United States. Don’t they also deserve some attention? There is tremendous value to be unlocked from wearables in the pet space. Now match the data coming from pet wearables with predictive analytics and you will get a whole new industry: pet’s telehealth and insurance.

Digital fluency

Digital fluency is effectively understanding and employing digital tools. Throughout the pandemic, business, schools, and people could continue their lives, at least to a certain extent, thanks to digitalization. The no-code movement is stronger than ever, allowing non-specialized users to build and launch digital products without an engineer in their founding team. I expect to see a powerful wave of innovators who previously had a barrier to launch digital products now thriving.

Technologists are more bullish than ever, as their products have proven crucial to overcome this crisis (could you imagine bitcoin replacing gold as a safe-haven asset? The world’s largest asset manager now says yes). But for such disruptive technology to achieve its full potential, we need to close the gaps in digital fluency and accessibility. That will require true access for populations who don’t have the resources, connectivity, or education to tap into the newest technologies. It also means we’ll probably pay more attention to systems and apps that can ease less familiar users—the elderly, for example—into digitalization, with easier interfaces or training tools. In the next decade, I believe we will see access to the internet become a human right.

Sustainability

It took humankind a couple of centuries to understand that there is only one planet, but in large part we finally got our head around it. However, as resources and wealth are not uniformly distributed, those economies that can afford it will probably fully embrace sustainability faster.

The shift towards a more sustainable economy is happening from both the top and the bottom of the consumption pyramid. From the demand side, consumers are already demanding companies to embrace this change. From the supply side, companies are responding.

But perhaps more importantly, those who are investing large pools of capital, such as pension funds, are demanding that money managers such as private equity firms (including venture capitalists) invest in a more sustainable economy. If you are building a digital product, my bet is that, in a few years’ time, consumers will ask you to share how much energy it takes to run it on their cell phones. The code of the future will be environmentally friendly, or it won’t last. So, if you are raising venture capital in 2021, make sure you have an impact on at least one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and you’ll increase your likelihood of getting funded.


 Andy Areitio is a partner at the early-stage fund at TheVentureCity, a new venture and acceleration model that helps diverse founders achieve global impact.




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Online sales drive JB Hi-Fi to bumper first half result


JB Hi-Fi has ridden the coronavirus-driven home tech and entertainment wave to a bumper first half profit with its online sales soaring 161 per cent during the period.

The boost in online sales to $678.8 million during the half more than offset the impact of government mandated temporary store closures over the six months to December 31.

JB Hi-Fi is one of the few Australian retailers to get a boost from lockdowns and border restrictions. Credit:Roger Stonehouse

JB Hi-Fi released a trading update on Monday flagging its preliminary unaudited results for the half. The update showed sales were up 23.7 per cent to $4.9 billion during the half. The company’s earnings before interest and tax shot up 75.9 per cent to $462 million thanks to tight margin and cost control over the period. The group flagged that its profit for the half would be 86.2 per cent.

The strong result was still some way off the sales momentum JB Hi-Fi had recorded between July and September. At its October annual general meeting, JB Hi-Fi told investors its sales growth during the first quarter had been 27.3 per cent.

JB Hi-Fi chief executive Richard Murray said the company was pleased to report the results on what he described as an “extraordinary period”.

“Our continued focus on the customers, and investments in our online business and our supply chain, have enabled us to seamlessly meet our customers increased demand both instore and online,” Mr Murray said.

More to come.

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Canberra man charged with online child sex offences after drive of child abuse material seized in raid


A 56-year-old man has been arrested and charged by ACT Policing with a number of online child sex offences.

Police carried out a search at a residence in Kambah, in Canberra’s south, yesterday as part of an ACT Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team investigation.

During the search, “an expansion drive containing video and image files depicting child abuse material” was allegedly discovered.

Police also alleged one of the videos depicted the man himself, “engaging in a sex act while viewing ‘live’ child abuse material”.

Police seized the drive, and it will undergo further digital forensic analysis.

The man was arrested and charged with one count of using a carriage service to engage in sexual activity with a child under 16 years of age, and two counts of possession of child abuse material.

He will appear before the ACT Magistrates Court today.

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India kicks off massive Covid-19 vaccination drive on Saturday, Jan. 16


Bangalore Airport workers transfer carton boxes containing vials of Covishield vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India in Bangalore, India, Jan. 12, 2021.

Stringer | Xinhua | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — India is gearing up for one of the largest mass vaccination exercises in the world starting Saturday.

The South Asian country plans to inoculate some 300 million people, or more than 20% of its 1.3 billion population, against Covid-19 in the first phase of the exercise.

Indian airlines have started delivering the first doses of vaccines to Delhi and other major cities, including Kolkata, Ahmedabad and tech hub Bengaluru, tweeted Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri earlier this week.

Priority for the shots will be given to health-care and other frontline workers — an estimated 30 million people. That would be followed by those above 50 years of age and other younger, high-risk individuals.

The rollout will involve close collaboration between the central government and states.

India has also developed a digital portal called Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System. It will provide real-time information on “vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries,” according to the health ministry.

India has a long history of immunization campaigns … and will rely on this expertise to distribute coronavirus vaccines.

“India’s expertise in vaccine manufacturing and experience with mass immunization campaigns has prepared it well for ‘phase 1’ vaccinations set to begin this weekend,” Akhil Bery, South Asia analyst at Eurasia Group, wrote in a report this week.

“India has a long history of immunization campaigns, including its Universal Immunization Program that inoculates 55 million a year, and will rely on this expertise to distribute coronavirus vaccines,” he added.

Emergency approval

India’s drug regulator has approved the restricted use of two coronavirus vaccines in emergency situations, both of which are being delivered to the various inoculation centers ahead of Saturday.

One of them is a vaccine developed by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which is being manufactured domestically by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and is known locally as Covishield.

Another vaccine, called Covaxin, was developed domestically by India’s Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research. It was granted emergency use authorization as clinical trials continue.

The approval of Covaxin was reportedly criticized by some as the regulator gave the green light shortly after asking Bharat Biotech for more analysis.

India’s health secretary on Tuesday said the Indian government has signed procurement agreements for 11 million doses of Covishield at 200 Indian rupees ($2.74) per dose and 5.5 million doses of Covaxin at an average cost of 206 rupees per shot, which is likely to be cheaper than what they will cost in the private market.

Several other candidates, including a second domestically developed vaccine by Zydus Cadila, are undergoing clinical trials.

Potential risks

India currently has more than 10.5 million reported coronavirus cases, second only to the United States. More than 151,000 people have died from Covid-19 in India, according to Johns Hopkins University data. But daily reported figures show the number of active infection cases are declining.

South Asia’s largest country is also the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer and is said to produce about 60% of all vaccines sold globally.

As such, India’s production of Covid vaccines is expected to play a major role in global immunization drives against the disease.

Eurasia Group’s Bery said that despite the government’s optimism, two important risks may potentially slow the rollout of the vaccination campaign.

“First, vaccine production capacity will be limited even in best-case scenarios,” he said, adding that if the local vaccine-makers cannot produce the 600 million doses required to inoculate the initial 300 million people, then “India’s immunization timeline — and its export of vaccines to other countries — could be significantly delayed.”

The second risk is that India’s vaccine campaign will rely heavily on state governments “whose capacities and expertise vary widely,” Bery said. “Effective coordination will be needed between the central and state governments, something that has not been (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s strong point.”

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Bryson DeChambeau, 414-yard drive, 9kg, bulked up, passed out, PGA Tour Tournament of Champions


Bryson DeChambeau is continuing to blow people’s minds with his hulking figure seeing another monster drive.

The US Open champ was playing at the US PGA Tour Tournament of Champions and landed on the green of the 431-yard 12th from the tee, another huge drive that continues to show off his impressive physique.

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DeChambeau spent about a year piling on 9kg of muscle in order to be better on the golf course.

“I’ve upped about 20 pounds (9kg),” DeChambeau said last June after unleashing his new rig. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to hit it farther, but I’ve done a lot of speed training to attain these new ball speeds.

“When I was out here I was attaining ball speeds of 193 (miles per hour, or 310km/h), 195 on certain holes, and quite honestly I can’t use it out here. There’s only a couple holes I can use it, No. 11 and No. 1 and No. 2 really.”

But DeChambeau was hitting it further, becoming the longest driver on the PGA Tour in 2020 with an average driving distance of 337.8 yards and had the seventh longest drive of the year.

This 414 yard monster would have been the third longest drive of 2020 — and it’s just a week into the year.

The drive was so big it snuck up on the group in front as they were lining up their putts.

While the monster wasn’t able to be turned into an eagle after he missed the putt, it once again got the golf world talking.

DeChambeau started the day four off the pace after a first-round 4-under 69, and stayed there after day two following a 6-under 67, in a tie for 10th.

But don’t expect the long bombs to stop any time soon with DeChambeau putting the work in to get the tee shot as long as possible.

“I spent my off-season swinging my butt off as hard as I can. There were times where everything hurt in my body and it was breaking down my whole nervous system and rebuilding it back up,” DeChambeau told PGATour.com.

“There were numerous times where I was seeing a tunnel and I had to stop. I did not blackout, but I came very close, just like (long drive champion Kyle Berkshire) did.”

Harris English currently leads the tournament by two strokes at -14

The 31-year-old American made six birdies in a bogey-free round to stand on 14-under 132 after 36 holes on the par-73 Plantation course at Kapalua, Hawaii.

“I feel good about my game right now,” English said. “I felt like I played really solid. Just didn’t hole as many putts as I did in the first round. I drove the ball really well and hit a lot of greens in regulation.

“If I keep shooting six-under it’s going to be a good score at the end of the week.”

Americans Justin Thomas, Ryan Palmer, Collin Morikawa and Daniel Berger shared second on 134 with South Korean Im Sung-jae and Americans Brendon Todd, Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele on 135.

with AFP

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Covid: The challenge in speeding up France's vaccination drive



As France seeks to speed up its coronavirus vaccination programme, it battles fear and distrust.

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Israel’s drive to vaccinate everyone by February


The Arena is one of the main hubs for Israel’s lighting-speed vaccination drive, which has already given the first of two jabs to 1.2 million people and has ordered a further 6 million doses for the 9 million-strong population.

As a number of other nations launch their own ambitious vaccinations programs, the architects of the Israeli model, the fastest in the world, know they are being watched for inspiration. The vaccine clinics are run by Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), public health bodies whose nurses and paramedics work from 8am until 10pm each day injecting the Pfizer vaccine.

People queue outside a Covid-19 mass vaccination center at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.Credit:Bloomberg

Israelis are legally required to join one of four HMOs but can switch providers, creating a major incentive to offer the best service. There is a fierce sense of competitiveness inside the stadium as Maccabi and Clalit, two HMOs running vaccine clinics, race to get doses out of refrigerated units and into the arms of their excited patients.

“At full capacity we can do 2000 vaccinations in one day,” says Naama Mantzur, an operational director at the Maccabi clinic. “We have a good system because we keep it as simple as possible. We let patients know they are eligible for a vaccine by email, and if they don’t respond we call them.”

For now, Israel is focusing on vaccinations for the over-60s and those with underlying health conditions, though relatives of frontline care workers are also eligible.

After taking a ticket at the entrance, patients are guided into one of a dozen or so tents where the jab is given. Before leaving the centre they are given the date of the second appointment in a fortnight’s time.

A woman receives a coronavirus vaccine from medical staff at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Ramat Gan, Israel.

A woman receives a coronavirus vaccine from medical staff at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Ramat Gan, Israel.Credit:AP

As the Pfizer vaccine must be used within six hours of leaving the fridge, officials have been breaking up the 1000-dose packages into smaller trays to reduce wastage. This occasionally leaves behind a surplus of a few doses, which are given to Israelis who turn up without appointments. Officials stress that those patients still need to meet the criteria for receiving a vaccine, such as pre-existing health conditions.

“There is a sense that people are making history and that they are on a mission, a national effort, to come out of this,” says Shani Luvaton, a nurse at Clalit, the other HMO at the stadium.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, has said he hopes to fully vaccinate more than 2 million Israelis with the Pfizer jab by the end of January, when a fresh batch of the Moderna jab is due to arrive.

Israel has faced some criticism for not vaccinating Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, which human rights groups say is a moral and legal obligation for the Jewish state as they are occupied territories. Israel rejects this, pointing to the 1990-era Oslo peace accords, which state that Palestinian leaders are responsible for vaccines. Israel also says it will offer surplus vaccines to Palestinian leaders, who are pursuing their own jabs via the WHO-led Covax scheme.

While many countries are eager to take the lead from Israel in their own vaccination schemes, experts say some aspects will be hard to emulate. With only 34,000 square kilometres of ground to cover, excluding settlements which are also receiving vaccines, the logistical work is fairly straightforward and assisted by Israel’s conscript army.

“Israel has experience in managing national emergencies and is used to co-ordinating the healthcare system with the army to get it to respond,” said Professor Michael Edelstein, an epidemiologist at Bar Ilan university.

But there will be new challenges on the horizon. Some Israeli analysts say the country specialises in intensive operations, whereas the vaccine drive is closer to a marathon than a sprint.

“The first tens of per cent are the easiest because you are going to attract those who really want it,” Edelstein says. “As the proportions increase, some areas will be well vaccinated and some less so, which will call for a more tailored approach.”

The Telegraph, London

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Congress: Set to begin world’s largest vaccination drive, says PM Modi


New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday praised the scientists and technicians for the two ‘Made in India’ Covid-19 vaccines approved by the government a day earlier. Meanwhile, the centre continued to lash out at the opposition for raising doubts over the vaccine developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.

“The new year has brought with it a new achievement. Indian scientists have not developed just one, but two Covid vaccines,” the PM said, addressing the National Metrology Conclave. “We are on the threshold of starting the largest vaccination programme in the world. The entire country is indebted to all scientists and technicians.”

The centre slammed opposition leaders for questioning the efficacy of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. A number of opposition leaders from the Congress, Samajwadi Party and other parties had raised concern over completion of trials and efficacy of Covaxin.

“Congress and other parties are doing petty politics over vaccines. This will badly impact the morale of the Indian scientists who have achieved his feat,” BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said at a presser in Delhi. “It’s a matter of pride that two indigenous vaccines have been given approval for clinical usage. It’s another step towards PM Modi’s AatmaNirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).”

Congress leaders such as Shashi Tharoor, Jairam Ramesh and Anand Sharma had raised concern over Covaxin, saying its phase three trial was not yet complete. SP leader Akhilesh Yadav had said he won’t take the “BJP’s vaccine”.

“Whenever India achieves something to be proud of, it has become a practice for Congress and other opposition parties to crib about the same,” said Patra. He called Congress a “mutant virus, which always tries to misguide the people of the country”.

On Sunday, the BJP’s national president JP Nadda had taken the lead in attacking the opposition over the vaccine and he was followed by a number of BJP leaders and Union ministers. “Within a year of the Covid-19 pandemic coming to India, our scientists and innovators have worked hard for a vaccine to cure this pandemic. While the entire nation is happy about this, the opposition led by the Congress is filled with anger, ridicule and disdain,” Nadda had said in a post on Twitter. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan too has sought to allay concerns over the vaccines on social media since Sunday.



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F1 2021, drive line-up: Daniel Ricciardo to McLaren, Renault, Photo shoot, Smile, Lando Norris


Daniel Ricciardo has swapped his Renault polo for a McLaren one and now it is photo time.

A smiley Ricciardo was snapped in his new team colours for the first time as he lines up alongside Lando Norris.

The two will form one of the most exciting driver line-ups of the Formula 1 next season and with plenty of reasons for optimism, it is no surprise Ricciardo is grinning.

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India holds vaccine drills ahead of mass inoculation drive


India staged nationwide drills to start one of the world’s biggest coronavirus vaccination programmes as the drug regulator prepared to approve the first vaccine.

A government panel on Friday recommended emergency use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University shot and the first injections could be given in the coming week after the Drugs Control Authority of India gives final approval.

India, which has the world’s second highest number of pandemic cases – more than 10.2 million – has set an ambitious target of inoculating 300 million of its 1.3 billion people by mid-2021.

Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine producer, has already stockpiled tens of millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s Covishield ready for the campaign and 96,000 health workers have been trained for the inoculation drive.

The drills saw 25 health workers receive dummy vaccines at each of the centres to be used across the country in a test run ahead of the launch.

Health minister Harsh Vardhan said the exercise would help build expertise “so that the upcoming vaccination drive may proceed without any glitch.” He has also called for a campaign to counter “misleading rumours” that may scare people off getting the vaccine.

India is the world’s second-hardest hit nation by the coronavirus pandemic.

AAP

While India is only second to the United States for the number of cases, its rate of infection has come down significantly from a mid-September peak of 90,000 plus cases daily and its fatality rate is lower than other badly affected countries.

Britain and Argentina this week authorised the AstraZeneca vaccine while the World Health Organization on Thursday granted emergency validation to the rival Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Covishield is expected to get more use in India as it can be stored and transported under normal refrigeration while the Pfizer shot needs ultra low temperatures for storage.

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