Online Trends During Covid-19 Krach in East Asia

Avatar for Mitsuyo Watanabe
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A few weeks have passed since the Covid-19 crisis hit our usual lives in Asia, which now resulted in a global Krach. Starting from China, the step by step spread to the neighboring countries. Especially Korea and Japan are experiencing now their finest hours. Some cities, including Wuhan in China, which has been locked down for more than six weeks, are still in a complete lock down.

The Japanese government extended the request for all the schools to close for an extra ten days, after which the schools in Japan are going to have a two week spring-holiday and will only re-start at the beginning of April.

South Korea as of now obliges all passengers from China and Japan to install the Self Diagnosis Mobile App at the arrival gate to record and report their daily health status for 14 days after arrival in the country. Under such restricted and unusual circumstances, people still need to carry on with their lives with intensive self-protecting approaches. So… what can be observed now in East Asia?

Online Business Booming in Taiwan

Obviously, same as in other areas, any kind of online business starts to boom. For example in Taiwan, where no major lock downs or shutdown are observed as Taiwan is extremely effective in containing the disease at the gate, Mei-ling Chen (Chairman of the National Development Council) stressed that the crisis leads to a turnaround. The digital economy plays a key role in fighting the epidemic and stabilizing the economy (Radio Taiwan International, 5th of March 2020). She also stated that the sales of major e-commerce platforms in February this year are estimated to increase by about 40% compared to the same period last year (source: Ministry of Finance in Taiwan), which indicates that the vigorous development of e-commerce is helping to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on retail.

Free Online Content Available – Japan

But, people who suffer from this pandemic may have negative feelings about online players who are only concentrating on making money. Indeed, we always hear tons of news like selling the masks at an online platform for 10 times higher prices than usual. However, a good sign in Japan is that some publishers and eLearning companies decided to offer a variety of online content free of charge. Benesse, the largest self-learning company in Japan (with well-known character Shimajiro) teamed up with nine other publishers and three contents studios and opened a special site to offer educational content including self-study PDFs, and more than a thousand eBooks and Videos. This free content trend is not only visible for educational content but also for some classical animations or comics. So now you can finally catch the story of One-Piece on Shueisha’s official page, if you missed it until now.  Cooking is also a popular indoor activity, thus one of the largest cooking-receipt platforms, Cookpad, is helping people, allowing access to limited content for free during this period.

Lots of my friends in Japan are literally connecting to these free sites all the time during their kids’ schools shutdown. So imagine how big of an impact can be expected in terms of brand awareness for these content providers. By saving or enriching people’s lives with free online content, they are actually gaining great reputations for their future businesses. It will be remembered.

Further, some interesting trends are observed, such as the increased sales of the family trampolines during the lock down period. Online exercises are also getting popular – one company in Japan is even streaming 15 minutes live exercise sessions every day during the lunch break for employees who are forced to work from home.   

Pray for all and More Observations to Come – China

Probably you are curious about what actually happened in Mainland China as well. We will keep an eye on it and soon publish our observations here from our Chinese colleague.

All in all, we strongly pray for all the people fighting this Covid-19 crisis and hope to get back to our usual day to day routines very soon. And, please, do not forget to keep washing hands as much as possible!

Avatar for Mitsuyo Watanabe

Region Manager for East Asia/Japan, as well as Translations project manager at Icecat.

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