Health, finance among top content consumption trends during the lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt many businesses a severe blow, but some categories grew and continue to do so in tough conditions. As the lockdown withdrew, some categories bounced back immediately while others are reviving slowly. With people at home, content consumption increased across categories and consumers turned to the internet to not just unwind, but survive, enhance and upskill as well. Many tried to become more aware of issues like personal finance while others leaned towards personal well-being.

Zirca Digital Solutions’ whitepaper, ‘Re-start Trends During the Pandemic’, examines key content categories that grew during the lockdown and classifies them under ‘Survival’, ‘Work +Upskill’, and ‘Money’ and ‘Unwind’. The whitepaper is part of Zirca’s ‘Ungeek’ knowledge series that simplifies facts to help businesses take better decisions and studies content consumption data and trends between Q2 FY’19 and Q4 FY’20.

Among the categories that did well was contactless payment modes and app. The reach of payment-based platforms grew from 208 million in Q2 FY’19 to 291 million in Q4 FY’20. A slight decline was observed to 288 million in Q3 FY’20, but reach was still higher than in Q2 FY’19. Among the others that worked flawlessly were health, cooking and recipe sites, upskilling and money.

Some highlights from the study:

  • The pandemic made people more conscious about health and fitness. The number of minutes spent on fitness-based platforms/apps grew 5300%, from 73 million in Q3 FY'19 to 3,917 million in Q4 FY'20
  • Total time spent of the popular recipe website surged 2110% during the period as the absence of external houses helped blurred the line dividing gender roles.
  • 61% people felt it was important to upgrade new skills in Q3 FY’20 compared to 48% in Q3’ FY’19 due to job security concerns 
  • People widened their financial acumen and actively participated in taking charge of their finances. As a result, 42% found themselves better at managing money after the lockdown.
  • More leisure time helped online gaming portals increase their reach from 80 million in Q2 FY'19 to 120 million in Q4 FY'20

Sectors like automobile, e-commerce and sports are bouncing back as the unlock phases progress.

  • 82% now prefer owning a vehicle over using public transport or shared services as they are perceived as unsafe and risky.
  • The economic slowdown lowered e-commerce as deliveries were affected during the initial period of the lockdown. Major players like Amazon and Flipkart saw a plateau in Q2 FY’20 in terms of reach, but not a real decline as dependencies were higher on E-commerce since people ventured out less.          
  • The lockdown also impacted the subcategories of E-commerce, however the focus on health & wellness, and practice of work from home leading to requirement on office essentials at home could have led to lesser impact on home furnishing and e-pharma.   
  • The reach of sports-based platforms dipped from 114 million in Q2 FY’19 to 111 million in Q4 FY’20. The last quarter saw a resurgence with the return of the cricket season.

Some sectors are still struggling to survive. The days of a thriving business in luxury, travel, navigation, eating out – as well as jobs – are a sweet memory and a hope for the future.

  • There was 38% dip in time spent on travel platforms, and 79% dip in hotels/resorts category in Q4 FY’20 compared to Q4 FY’19 as travel, tourism and hospitality appeared to be the hardest hit sector.
  • The decline of economic activity led companies to retrench their workforce. With no new job postings, the time spent on career sites reduced by 42% in Q4 FY’20 when compared to Q4 FY’19.
  • The financial crunch reduced people's interest in real estate. As a result, platforms related to the sector saw a near 30% decline in the total time spent in Q4 FY’20  

The lockdown also led to a major behavioural shift. While people worried about the technology and social media and its impact on our lives prior to the lockdown, they have also realised the boon in times like these. 46% people like to keep themselves updated with news, 41% feel social media is good for the society, and 37% people feel in control of their personal data.    

Neena Dasgupta, CEO and Director, Zirca Digital Solutions, said: “At ZIRCA, we always put our bets on knowledge, research and insights driven decisions. Our “Ungeek” series is an effort to collate business and consumer insights and translate them into actionable intelligence for the digital and marketing fraternity. ZIRCA will always strive to present the industry and consumers with insights that will help them make better business decisions. We consciously started the series with this particular topic because the past few months witnessed lots of changes across the spectrum and it is more critical now than ever to have actionable intelligence to improve recovery”.

Karan Gupta, Managing Director, Zirca, added: “Data” is fast becoming a commodity, and it is getting difficult by the day to actually filter out key insights from a mountain of easily available data. ZIRCA has uniquely positioned itself to be able to collate large amount of data and filter out key insights from them. Within “Ungeek” you will not only find the width of information but the depth of these insights as well. We hope that this series helps the readers by presenting them with more comprehensible facts and figures” the pandemic has influenced fundamental transformations in businesses, many of them driven by attitudinal changes.

The white paper can be downloaded from


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