Voice of the Industry

A look at post-COVID-19 trends driving disruption and change for consumers and brands

Monday 30 January 2023 13:40 CET | Editor: Raluca Constantinescu | Voice of the industry

Ajit Sivadasan, President and Global Head of DTC at Lenovo, discusses major trends and their implications for consumers and brands as COVID-19 moves into the background.


COVID-19 seems like a bad dream now, but our lives, both professionally and personally, are now defined by a pre- and post-COVID-19 world. The following is a view on major trends and their implications for consumers and brands as COVID-19 moves into the background. This is not an exhaustive list, but many of these are particularly relevant. 

1. Changing demographics 

The world is evolving rapidly, largely driven by significant demographic shifts, trends that are significant enough that they threaten even the balance of power between nations in the future. 

  • The move to urban intensifies (by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will be in urban areas) with the rise of the single unit homes (+32% increase in major developed countries vs -5% reduction in couple living per McKinsey Institute). Gen Zs and the subsequent generations will fundamentally redefine the ‘family’ of the future. Many are opting to not have children at all or have fewer children and lead a lifestyle that is likely going to be remarkably different than the outgoing generations. 

  • Retirement burden will rise significantly for several global markets including the US, Japan, and China. This will put significant pressure on the healthcare system and the working population with dependency age going up to 65 years. 

  • 50% of the global GDP will be generated by Asia by 2040 vs 39% in 2021. As discussed previously, urbanisation will rise substantially to the tune of +15% by 2050, creating new opportunities and challenges at the same time. 

  • Smarter cities, commercial and residential space integration, electric everything, and shared spaces will characterise the new normal. The transportation revolution is already here, driven partly by concerns about sustainability and the environment, and partly by the economics of driving. The evolution of autonomous vehicles, Gen Z’s desire not to own too many things, and the significant improvements in the world of electric vehicle technology are all driving a fundamental change in the vehicle industry. 

2. Future of work 

The debate rages on whether everyone is going back to work full-time or part-time, and what that means for office space, traffic, employee morale, work-life balance, etc. Most reasonable companies have concluded that productivity is likely optimal when the approach is balanced – working a few days a week from home and a few days at work. Most brands are moving down a path of flexible working arrangements. 

  • Digital workspaces are driving the need for better tools and capabilities to maximise employee productivity. We already saw better collaboration tools emerging in the market during COVID-19 – Teams, Zoom, Yammer, etc. 

  • Gen Zs are entering the workplace in record numbers (40% of the working population by 2030) driving significant adoption and the fine-tuning of the technology. Mobility and smarter collaboration are melding personal and work environments around us and will continue to evolve further as Gen Zs become primary decision-makers. 

3. Future of learn, play, entertainment 

Much like the future of work is changing dramatically, so is the world of education, entertainment, and gaming, among others. Millennials started gaming and online entertainment consumption at scale and Gen Zs will continue to drive its ubiquity. 

  • 90% of students believe that AR/VR makes education more interesting. Driven by COVID-19, >67% of educators now use some form of digital interface in classrooms to drive collaboration, engagement, and learning. The trend of home-bound learning has increased dramatically as parents worry about things like flexibility, cost, and mental well-being. Gamification of education is on the rise, and soon it will become a critical component of learning. 

  • Digital homes will become a reality with the emergence of ecosystems; Apple started the trend several years ago, COVID-19 made it obvious, and now Android, Chrome, and Microsoft ecosystems are catching up, making smart homes a reality that is here to stay. The digital home IoT market is sized at approximately USD 830 billion. A fully integrated home with exercise, entertainment, learning, and working will become the standard design for homes in the near future, with many new constructions already planned for this eventuality. 

4. Digital health 

Advances in health management at a personal level are at an all-time high, with many among us using smart watches/devices to keep track of our health. In 2021, USD 29 billion of venture funding was focused on digital health companies. Personalised medicine focused on genetics and health monitoring is rising. Healthcare providers are exchanging data to improve patient outcomes and overall well-being. 

  • The world of medical care is becoming more digital as we speak, and many in this space believe that the role of hospitals and hospitalists will go through a significant transformation. 55% of doctors believe that telemedicine will see significant uptake and adoption. 

  • The scope of productivity gains coming from advances in digital health initiatives will top USD 12 trillion to the GDP by 2040. The global wellness market is set to see between 10-15% CAGR, a USD 1.5 trillion market. 

All of the above trends present brands with an incredible set of opportunities in the foreseeable future, driving significant implications that are highly relevant. Here are a few key ones. 

  • As digital becomes much more ubiquitous the role of security will increase substantially. Protecting data and privacy will become even more important. Between legislation and the new order of geopolitics, consumers and brands will need to navigate several complex and difficult challenges ahead. 

  • Artificial intelligence, cloud infrastructure, XR, metaverse, implantables, advanced analytics, edge/quantum computing, etc. are some of the technologies that are growing the fastest. Each of them has significant implications for brands in terms of opportunities in their businesses, either as providers/enablers or as consumers of these technologies to run their own businesses. 

  • We are at the inflection point of a new world order, driven in part by geopolitics and in part by countries increasingly wary of their global competitiveness. Regionalisation of industries, supply chains, and core capabilities will continue to be at the centre of nation-building. Brands will need to devise appropriate strategies to best handle how they service their customers effectively given these shifts. 

Data Sources | McKinsey Global Institute, Source: Team Analysis, McKinsey Global Institute, United Nations, World Economic Forum, WorldBank, Statista 

This editorial piece was first published in The Paypers' Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report 2022–2023, which taps into the fast-growing cross-border market and provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments that are pivotal in this space, being the ultimate source of information for ecommerce businesses interested in expanding globally. 

About Ajit Sivadasan 

Ajit Sivadasan is a founding executive of Lenovo's global online strategy since 2006. Over the last 17+ years Lenovo’s global online sales expanded from 5 countries to 35+ countries and lenovo.com's footprint into 90+ countries. During the same period revenues, units, and profits have grown over 20X. Lenovo.com continues to delight its customers globally with User Experience scores at an all time high.

About Lenovo 

Lenovo delivers our vision of Smarter Technology for all through products, solutions, software, and services that individuals, communities, and businesses need to fulfil their potential. As a USD 70 billion Fortune Global 500 technology company, we leverage the diversity of more than 63,000 employees to serve customers in 180 markets.

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Keywords: COVID-19, ecommerce, retail, merchants, Gen Z, artificial intelligence, digitalisation
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Lenovo
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce


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