COVID-induced ‘new economy’: advent of outdoor camping, ready-to-cook meals, nucleic acid testing

Tourists camp at Mount Wan’an in Luoyang, central China’s Henan Province, Sept. 11, 2021. Photo: VCG

The outbreak of the pandemic has dealt a major blow to most businesses across the world. Now two years have passed, those pioneers who are innovative and enterprising in meeting consumer demands have reaped rich rewards.

In China, the world’s second-largest economy, new business opportunities are springing up, including the outdoor camping frenzy, ready-to-eat meals, smart logistics, VR/AR devices, industries related to nucleic acid testing to combat against the virus, and other sectors .

Industry players pointed out that these new trends, although emerging with the still-biting epidemic, could indicate the direction and trend of transformation after the epidemic subsides one day.

camping frenzy

During the past five-day national holiday on May Day, camping has become a silver lining for the domestic tourism industry as COVID-19 restricted most long-distance travel in the country.

Picnicking, cooking, chatting with friends, gazing at the stars while sipping coffee in a tent have become popular on social media, generating growing demand for products and services like kites, frisbees, barbecues , bonfires, outdoor movies, as well as recreational activities. vehicle travel and other outdoor recreation items.

According to Tianyancha data, as of April 16, 2022, there were 24,845 camping-related businesses, of which 19,917 were established in the past three years; 34,970 were tent-related products, and the number of enterprises established in the past three years stood at 19,917.

Investors are also chasing the trend – in March 2022, wild luxury camping “Haiking”, a brand specifically targeting family camping, received a million dollar investment. Outdoor equipment brand Nature-hike announced the completion of an investment of nearly 100 million yuan.

“At present, there are not many tourism-related investment opportunities, with camping seen as a short-term feature, and its business volume remains limited,” Global said on Tuesday. Times an industry player, who asked to remain anonymous.

The person said per capita spending on outdoor travel-related products in China only accounts for a quarter of European and American markets, although the industry has huge potential for development.

A study by Guangzhou-based research firm iiMedia Research showed that the scale of China’s camping market grew from 7.71 billion yuan ($1.16 billion) in 2014 to 29.9 billion. yuan in 2021, and that it is expected to grow by 18.6% in 2022 to reach 35.46 billion yuan.

But the camping industry still needs to develop rapidly, improving its products and services, diversifying leisure events at popular campsites, as the domestic travel sector takes advantage of pandemic restrictions that discourage tourists from traveling to the stranger, the person said.

“The pandemic tends to hit most travel and leisure businesses, but high-end personalized travel services will attract more long-term customers, betting on China’s rising middle class,” the actor added. of the sector.

Meals ready to cook

Additionally, Chinese consumers are showing a growing appetite for pre-packaged foods over the past couple of years, with ready-to-eat meals prepared by restaurants and restaurants, and delivered to homes seeing rapid growth.

Prepackaged food at a supermarket in Beijing on April 9, 2022. Photo: VCG

Prepackaged food at a supermarket in Beijing on April 9, 2022. Photo: VCG

A survey found that more than 60% of restaurants in China plan to focus on retail dining after the pandemic ends. Today, some large restaurant chains have established mature food supply chains and innovation capacity for their dishes. The reputation of their physical restaurants could help promote business, according to a report by the China Chain Store & Franchise Association.

According to a report by Shenzhen-based research firm AskCI Consulting, the current size of China’s pre-made food market is around 300 billion yuan, with the potential to expand to one trillion yuan in the next six to seven months. coming years.

Nucleic acid tests

The demand for mass nucleic acid testing is also on the rise in China, driving the development of domestic testing-related service companies.

In addition, with negative nucleic acid test results becoming the ubiquitous “pass” to enter public places, many Chinese cities have proposed building a “15-minute nucleic acid sampling service circle” to respond. to the growing needs of the public.

Freestanding nucleic acid testing facilities such as nucleic acid sampling booths, nucleic acid sampling booths, and mobile nucleic acid sampling vehicles have all become common sites in large Chinese cities.

The nucleic acid testing unit developed by Haier Biomedical in Wuxi, east China's Jiangsu Province Photo: Courtesy of Haier Biomedical

A nucleic acid testing unit developed by Haier Biomedical in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu Province Photo: Courtesy of Haier Biomedical

For example, a new type of nucleic acid testing unit developed by Chinese biotech solution provider Haier Biomedical had been deployed in more than 3,000 hospitals and community service centers in more than 200 cities as of May 5, to combat against the latest resurgence of the coronavirus, a company representative told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The unit consists of a four-square-meter operating room equipped with an air filtering system, ultraviolet disinfection ray and air conditioning, for the safety and comfort of operators. equipment, and the number of test units can be adjusted according to actual needs. The sampling process for each person takes just 30 seconds, the company said.

According to a previous report by China Business News, some Chinese companies originally involved in making mobile toilets, or eco-friendly toilets, have now entered the industry, developing acid sampling booths. nucleic acid detection and collection booths for hospitals, and other sampling workstations.

If nucleic acid testing is compulsory in all second-tier cities and above, an annual business volume of 1.7 trillion yuan is to be generated, which is 1.5% of China’s GDP. in 2021 – a cost far below the economic loss caused by the widespread lockdowns needed to stifle the spread of the virus, according to Soochow Securities.

More to explore

Wearable devices, such as VR and AR products, have also seen growing popularity as consumers turn to home entertainment. Sales of AR and VR hardware devices on increased more than sixfold year-over-year in the first two months of the year.

The global market for AR and VR headsets jumped 92.1% year-over-year in 2021, with shipments reaching 11.2 million units, according to a report by global research firm International Data Corporation market.

Meta’s Quest 2 was by far the most popular product with a 78% share of the combined AR/VR market last year, followed by DPVR, a Shanghai-based VR technology company, with a global market share of 5, 1%. ByteDance’s Pico VR products ranked third with a 4.5% market share in 2021, the report notes.

Sally J. Minick