Top five questions & answers from this webinar
Q: What do you think will happen to the restaurant industry in 2021?
Anwser: I think if things go according to plan - meaning by the summer the vaccine is widely distributed, there is a huge scope of people going back to dine at restaurants. In fact, we have seen not too long ago when bars and restaurants were open in some form or the other - people were dying to go back to those experiences despite knowing the risks. There's always the romance of going out and having a meal or a drink plus the fact that someone else is serving you. Even those social connections, people want to really want to go back to that. Even when we did our past study on categories that people are most likely to spend on, restaurants and travel were two sectors that people seemed really comfortable to spend on.
Q: What do travel and tourism look like in 2021?
Anwser: I think the same as above - there is a lot of hunger for people to get out and travel. When corona first hit, you could see there was a lot of interest in bringing back the 'Great American Roadtrip'. It's not like flipping over to 2021 suddenly changed everything and things were different - we will still have to wait for the vaccine. Even with that, some people want to take it, some don't, plus we have to wait and see how effective it is going to be so there's a lot of factors that need to be looked at. We will see hotels and airlines come back but there's no timeline to it. In fact, it would be very interesting to see the whole notion of cleanliness in travel and hospitality and how that is managed. While it is easy for larger brands and hotel chains to maintain that, homestays like Airbnb, etc. may struggle. We've seen a lot of business go away from hotels to Airbnb and it is definitely going to be interesting if the dynamic stays that way.
Q: Most of your predictions have rested on major companies and affluent leaders. Do you feel that there will be a rebirth of smaller businesses that have been lost due to the pandemic?
Anwser: I don't have hard data for this but I have anecdotally seen that there is a very strong desire for consumers to support small businesses. Obviously, the corona economy has been really tough for a lot of small businesses but it has been great for someone like Amazon. And even though Amazon toned down Prime Day last year, a colleague said every day since coronavirus hit has been Prime Day for Amazon. Purely because it's convenient, people don't want to go outside, superfast delivery, etc. But I think psychologically, there has been a strong desire to support small businesses. I think so many people have seen people and businesses in their community struggle, that there is a definite intention to support small businesses. So I think this is going to be a lasting effect - not just the psychological support towards small businesses but also the way that people spend their money is going to be different.
Q: Can you comment on carbon capture technology?
Anwser: Again, I don't say I have hard data but I have definitely put carbon capture on my winner’s list of the 2020 corona economy purely on the basis of what I think would happen in 2021. We've obviously seen Elon Musk come out and strongly support it. I also think the Biden administration will focus a lot more on Climate Change. Consumer behavior isn't really going to change that much to make difference in those areas. It's going to need a major technological push but I see big things for carbon capture going forward.
Q: Do you think there will be a shift in consumer behavior with the vaccine coming out?
Anwser: I think it may be 2022 before things actually get better. People are excited about the vaccine but as we've covered above, there are various aspects to even the vaccine. More importantly, though, it's not going to be like one day there's a vaccine and immediately the next day, things are back to normal and is fine. I think it's going to take much longer and there's going to be that period of transition and turmoil and uncertainty so I think it may be towards the end of 2021 or later for the consumer economy and spend to start getting better.