The events of the past year created a confluence of factors that changed the fields of commerce and technology – perhaps forever. People are spending more time at home than ever; many are even working at home. Almost everyone now thinks twice before going out, and people are increasingly deciding that those weekly trips to the restaurant or the theater really don’t feel as necessary as they once did.
Moreover, people are making wiser decisions with their money in general. Americans paid off $83 billion in credit card debt in 2020. Many of those people have carried revolving debt for most of their adult lives, and now they pay their balances off in full every month. With the economy in such a state of uncertainty, some expenditures just don’t seem as important as they once did – so those who have remained employed over the past year are now saving more money than ever and looking for ways to make their money work for them.
In short, consumer spending is now strongly influenced by the following three factors.
- Offers need to be extremely compelling in order to convince consumers to spend their money at all.
- More than ever, people want to enjoy their discretionary spending without leaving their homes.
- People are nervous that inflation could decrease the purchasing power of their cash holdings and are looking for ways to make their money grow.
With these factors in play, consumer spending is ripe for disruption like never before. These are the disruptive technologies that consumers have embraced in a big way in 2021.
New research released by King’s College London in 2021 confirms what tens of millions of people around the world have known for years: Vaping can help you quit smoking. Quitting is something that smokers have had on their minds more than ever over the past year. That’s partially because of concerns about smoking and its effect on the potential outcome in the event of contracting COVID-19. It’s also partially because people are spending more of their time these days thinking about self-improvement in general. If you’re still a smoker and haven’t tried a vape kit from a company like V2 Cigs UK yet, it’s time to give it a try and see if vaping can help you quit as well.
This year will go down in history as the year in which the phrase “short squeeze” entered the vocabularies of millions of people with a little extra money to spend. The GameStop short squeeze in 2021 erased billions of dollars from hedge funds’ ledgers while creating several new millionaires. Reading about those newly minted millionaires made people all over the world very tired of watching others grow wealthy while they sat on the sidelines, and by Spring, money was pouring into the stock market like never before.
Today’s retail trading apps offer simple interfaces, fee-free trades and fractional stock ownership, making it possible for people to put their money to work even if they don’t have a lot of investing knowledge or money to spend. Retail investing could end up being the catalyst that empowers people to end the cycle of poverty for good.
At the end of 2020, the U.S. government granted its first preliminary approvals to UPS and Amazon, finally making drone-based deliveries of consumer purchases a realistic possibility in the near future. With online shopping at an all-time high – and carriers struggling to keep up with the volume – drone deliveries have the potential to make an enormous difference in how long people wait for their packages to arrive. For online merchants such as Amazon, drone deliveries may also help to combat the rising fuel and logistics costs that hamper profitability.
In the long term, drone deliveries can potentially enhance consumers’ lives in a number of dramatic ways. Imagine ordering a pizza online and having it appear at your door a few minutes later. Imagine running out of an important medication unexpectedly and having the refill dropped at your doorstep. Once drone deliveries are proven to be safe and reliable, it’s only a matter of time until drones and tethered drones permeate every aspect of our lives.
One of the things lost in the shuffle during the 2021 GameStop short squeeze was the fact that, while financial institutions were betting heavily against the video game retailer, they were also betting against other businesses that were doing poorly during the COVID-19 pandemic and were at very real risk of failing. One of those businesses was AMC, the well-known chain of movie theaters. Although it seems unlikely that traditional movie theaters will ever go away entirely, the fact is that people need a really good excuse to leave the house for unnecessary purposes these days – and for many, going to see a movie just doesn’t cut it.
Many factors have combined to create the home theater boom of the past year. Extremely large televisions, for one, have become more affordable than ever. Many people are blessed with a greater-than-normal amount of discretionary income, and they’re very interested in compelling big-ticket purchases. For those people, a big television sounds like an extremely attractive proposition. The film studios, meanwhile, have done their best to continue producing content during the pandemic, and with movie theaters suffering from poor attendance, many studios are releasing their films directly to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Now that people can stream the newest releases without waiting, home theaters are looking more attractive than ever.
Although many people have unexpectedly become wealthy this year, the financial world still has an undercurrent of uncertainty. First-time investors are pumping money into stocks at unprecedented rates, causing an untold number of companies to reach all-time high valuations. Is the stock market overdue for a correction? The federal government is keeping families across the country afloat with stimulus checks. Is inflation going to cause the dollar to bottom out? People are looking for safe havens for their assets, and for some, the stock market simply doesn’t look safe enough. Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies – and Bitcoin in particular – only seem to move in one direction. Since Bitcoin has a finite supply, it isn’t susceptible to inflation. More merchants than ever now accept Bitcoin, and people can even buy cryptocurrencies via PayPal. In 2021, cryptocurrency has begun to look less like a vehicle for speculation and more like a legitimate store of value.