Finding meaning in the time of COVID-19 been nothing short of a struggle. However, although the pandemic whiplash has left countless scrambling to overcome their problems, it's also highlighted the power of creativity as we adapt and adjust to a new normal.

While everyone’s routines and livelihoods have been impacted in some way, creativity has helped us develop an impressive resilience.

Inventive Trends During a Crisis

While the creative industry has been adversely affected, with galleries and art fairs closed for extended periods, musicians unable to perform live, and venues from concert halls to clubs remaining shut, the WeTransfer Ideas Report 2020 has discovered that creatives have responded positively to these challenging circumstances.

Involving 35,000 people from 183 countries working in the creative industry, the report proudly states that “when the going gets tough, the tough get creative.” A third of respondents reported feeling more creative than usual; meanwhile, 61.6% who were forced to change jobs reported having more creative ideas than ever. As the report poses: “does creativity thrive outside of our comfort zones, or is it an effective coping mechanism when times get tough?”

Since the start of the pandemic, our lives have been altered in many ways. For one, people shop online more than ever. Even though this direction we were headed towards before COVID-19, the convenience and safety accorded by e-commerce meant millions making the switch. In fact, the wider Southeast Asia region welcomed 70 million new digital consumers, while Singapore alone is estimated to reach US$8 billion in online sales throughout 2021.

The media landscape has also undergone enormous changes. Print media and much of television have declined, while on-demand streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ have seen exceptional growth. Across Southeast Asia, Netflix consumption rose 115% in the early months of the pandemic, while Viu, including its Viu Premium subscription plans, also saw consumers spend 2 billion minutes on content, 274% more than pre-pandemic.

As people shift away from traditional media to YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch, these platforms have grown massively during the pandemic.

How Businesses Adapted Creatively

Practically every business panicked at the start of the pandemic. With so much uncertainty, no one really knew how business operations would look like moving forwards. As customers remained at home and businesses were forced to close their doors, adapting to life in the pandemic meant that almost everyone was learning on the fly as they trudged along.

Naturally, many of these changes involved embracing the latest technology to go digital and reach customers. For instance, yoga instructors who couldn’t hold physical classes shifted to online live streams and recorded videos. Popular YouTubers like Yoga With Adriene and Chloe Ting saw their subscriber counts explode.

As the pandemic rolls on, savvy entrepreneurs have turned to business and digital solutions, developing creative business ideas and business continuity plans to help them get through.

If you're looking to start your own venture, remember to think about how customer behaviour has changed. For example, people are now more aware of personal hygiene. More importantly, remember to leverage on easy-to-deploy digital solutions included in the Start Digital scheme made available by the Infocomm Media Development Authority to seize opportunities for growth. Get creative and showcase your business to the world!

Consumers Seek Enterprising Ideas

Just as businesses underwent major changes, consumer spending habits also shifted radically. Besides spending more on essentials, consumers also looked for businesses that offer creative solutions to their problems.

For example, fashion labels and independent designers saw an opportunity with face masks. Clothing brand Courtyard LA took to turning vintage garments and deadstock into masksand other designers Like Lirika Matoshi went further with handcrafted masks with beaded flowers and fruit, going so far as to donate 100% of the proceeds to charities in her hometown. In Singapore, designers and craftsmen tapped into the demand for face masks too. One local enterprise with creative small business ideas was The Sutajio that made waves with Japanese prints and handmade masks.

However, the most successful companies didn’t simply use this opportunity to chase profits. Young Henrys, a Sydney-based craft beer brewer, took it upon themselves to help people by working with local charities, homeless shelters and nursing homes to ensure those in need could gain access to essential products which were in short supply. The extra sales and word of mouth publicity helped the brewery avert a crisis, where they lost about 80% of revenue virtually overnight in the wake of lockdown measures.

How Individuals Found Resilience in Imagination

As the pandemic has led to restrictions on socialising and travelling, individuals have also come up with creative solutions to their predicament.

Rather than meeting up for dinner, individuals have used video conferencing tools like Zoom to organise social gatherings instead. Video gaming has also become a popular way for people to stay connected. Whether virtual meetups with friends via Discord, or by making new friends through online games, video games have provided a great escape during lockdowns. In fact, sales on consoles and games surged across Singapore, with some stores seeing demand increase by 7.8%. Meanwhile, popular platforms like Steam and Twitch have experienced record traffic.

Unsurprisingly, on-demand streaming services like Netflix have also seen a massive boost in viewership. There was an increase in Netflix subscription plans by 16 million in the first 3 months of 2020! With numerous Netflix deals, various subscription costs, and a range of new hit shows like Squid Game, it's no surprise why it's becomethe ultimate go-to entertainment for many.

Finally, social media have provided social connection, entertainment, and eventhe chance to explore one's creativity. Perhaps the most successful of the lot is TikTok, TikTok's President of Global Business Solutions, Blake Chandlee, explored the platform’s success in a recent podcast: “We had these amazing creators just tell inspiring stories all year long and that just continued, which then led to the adoption of the platform for a variety of audiences.”

The platform’s unique ability to give everyone a voice has proved remarkably successful as comedians, chefs, and musicians all started pitching in. As many of these people saw their work affected work affectedovernight, they turned to TikTok to get themselves – and their followers – through the lockdown.

Overcoming Adversity Through Creativity

COVID-19 has created hardship for individuals and businesses around the world, but countless have found strength and resilience through their creativity. As there appears to be no end to the pandemic, having modern digital technology around to maintain relationships, connect with new people, and express ourselves has been a godsend. But more importantly, by fostering your creative side and finding ways to express yourself, the toughest challenges in life are made a little easier.