What to Sell in a Coronavirus Economy: 19 Ethical Business Ideas

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, government institutions and businesses have taken important steps to save human lives. These regulations are changing the economy, consumer buying habits, and our day-to-day lives. 

A lot of people are thinking about starting a business right now, and for very different reasons. 

If you’re looking to build a business that has short-term growth potential, sells products based on fear, and runs ads that could potentially get banned on Facebook, this list is not for you. But if you’re looking to build a business that has long-term growth potential, helps people adapt to this new way of life, and practices ethical marketing practices, then read on. 

We’ll dive into 20 ethical and trending business ideas that you can start in today’s weird economy. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs add real value to people’s lives and will be critical to the way this economy goes forward, both during and post-coronavirus. 

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Hoodies and sweatshirts

What are you wearing right now? I’m personally in a hoodie and sweatpants. But they’re both more than a decade old and have plenty of holes. Not Zoom-appropriate. 

Life at home is the new norm in this economy. And comfort is key. That’s where hoodies come in – and there are probably lots of people like me with a dresser full of old sweats that aren’t so nice. Many of us need an upgrade. 

This fuzzy hoodie with bear ears is both playful and cozy.

And a pullover like this might be better suited for the working professional. 

When you do select your sweatshirts and hoodies, promote them with messaging about staying comfortable and presentable at home. 

A word of advice: This is a competitive niche. You need to be unique to be successful. Try designing your own hoodies and sweatshirts with a print-on-demand service to source hoodies and sweatshirts that have a bit of a novelty or special flair to them.

Novelty socks

What’s a cozy hoodie without equally cozy socks to match? We’re not going anywhere, so footwear is on the backburner. But we still need to keep our feet comfy. 

A special pair of socks can go a long way, delivering small moments of joy in our day-to-day routines – especially important right now. 

We’re loving these socks, with a super soft lining, perfect for colder climates (hello, southern hemisphere). 

For customers in the northern hemisphere, make it fun if not warm. These socks have personality and also make great pick-me-up gifts to send to friends and family. 

Or, take inspiration from the “if you can read this, bring me wine” sock trend and find a print-on-demand service to create your own messages. 

Regardless of whom you’re targeting, make sure you find socks that are particularly comfortable. No one wants to wear stiff, itchy socks all day. Every day. 

House slippers

Now we’re upgrading. Take the socks idea up a notch and look at full-on house slippers. Again, people don’t really need to wear nice shoes to work or out on the weekends, so they need something to move around the house in. 

House slippers are comfortable, you don’t need exact sizing for them to fit, and – kind of like socks – they can spark some joy and bring much-needed comfort into people’s lives.

These cute and cozy slippers are so tempting I might order some for myself. 

These slippers are better for an understated, “quarantined but still in business” look. 

So while everyone else is ignoring the shoe category when they’re starting their online businesses, get creative, because there’s an opportunity to really own a niche with house slippers.

Sleep and lounge

Still on trend, formal wear is out and loungewear is in. This allows for maximum relaxation. Plus, with people spending so much time at home, they might want to spruce up the way they look even when they’re dressing down for bed. 

This pink pajama set is a great example. It allows people to stay comfortable living and working from home while feeling a bit elegant and pretty. That’s the kind of copy you’re going to go for if you decide to build an online business around this kind of luxury lounge and comfort wear category.

And you don’t have to go the luxury route. Family pajama sets like this one are also popular right now. It’s a great family activity and makes being home all the time just a little more fun for the kids.

Device holders

Ok, now that we’re outfitted, it’s time to accessorize our tech. Even before stay-at-home orders, people used their phones and tablets to communicate, scroll social media, stream Netflix, and more. 

But the setup isn’t always ideal. I can’t tell you how many unflattering video chats I’ve had from bed. 

With so much more reliance on technology, people need ways to prop devices up. Enter phone holders, stands, and mounts. 

We’re not talking car phone accessories. No one is going anywhere. We’re talking at-home accessories – for the desk, the couch, the kitchen table, in bed, a nightstand, etc. 

Here’s one cool desk phone holder that’s adjustable and available in different colors. 

This mount actually props your device up next to your computer screen, ideal for folks who find themselves newly working from home. 

And this phone holder can help those in-bed FaceTimers and Netflix streamers. (BRB, ordering for myself.)

Laptop stands and lap desks 

The next trending product idea to sell in our current economy is similar, but specifically meant for working from home. Lots of folks have been forced to set up a home office with little notice, and that transition is more difficult for some than others. 

Sell laptop stands or lap desks to make working from home more feasible. This laptop stand, for example, can turn any table into a workstation. It’s also got a built-in fan for long days “at the office.” 

Within this category, you don’t have to restrict yourself to laptop stands. You can also sell laptop accessories like keyboards and mice. This office chair armrest attachment supports the forearm and wrist for a comfortable mouse setup. 

The important thing is that you sell things that are ergonomic. That signals to customers that they can use accessories like these to work from home in a way that’s good for their posture and body alignment. 

Gaming accessories

There are 2.6 billion gamers in the world. That’s a heck of an audience with a lot of opportunity. And we can only imagine that gamers are gaming more than ever. 

Gaming accessories will see more wear and tear, and ergonomics are going to become even more important. If you know this niche, look for ways to cater to the needs of people who are gaming more often. 

These thumb stick grips are a simple way to meet their needs. 

A word of warning: Make sure you know and communicate gaming system and device compatibility. Otherwise you’re going to get a ton of customer questions about whether they can use your products, or skepticism will make users bounce. It’s a safer bet to sell accessories that can fit over a wide range of different gaming consoles and accessories.

Small indulgences

We’re challenging the idea that no one is going to be buying jewelry in an economy affected by coronavirus. Less competition means more opportunity. 

Take this tiny monogram necklace for example. It’s small, but it’s a little indulgence that helps people feel like they’re taking care of and pride in themselves during this difficult time.

Home storage solutions

Home storage solutions are going to be big in this new economy because people are spending so much more time at home. And they have more stuff at home – a new workstation, the kids’ “workstations,” more groceries, etc. 

Look for products that help people organize what they already have or products that help people manage their home more efficiently. Take this over-cabinet towel hanger for example – particularly helpful in the era of extra handwashing. 

These refrigerator organizers are ideal after big grocery store hauls. 

Organization accessories for the kids are also a warm welcome, like these toy organizer cubes

This niche is going to continue to grow as people continue to buy in preparation for uncertain times. So get familiar with home storage solutions and get really creative with stores if you go in this direction.

Kitchen accessories

With restaurants and cafes closed in response to coronavirus, more people are spending time in the kitchen themselves. Whether they’re making bread from scratch, simple bagel sandwiches, or other recipes, they’re going to look for accessories that help them become better home cooks.

This juicer helps people get the juice from citrus fruits more easily.

This kitchen accessory allows you to easily create noodle-shaped veggies. I personally like to make zucchini “pasta.”

The key here is to think about things people are likely to have an excess of. Fresh produce, for example, can’t sit around for too long, so folks are going to look for creative ways to prepare fruits and vegetables.

Home decor

It’s more important than ever before to make time at home as nice and enjoyable as possible. Home projects that have been pushed to the wayside are now prioritized more highly. 

But people aren’t likely to knock down any walls or do major renovations that will cost a lot of money. Simple, small upgrades and DIY projects are what we’ll expect to see. And these projects need to be affordable. 

Look for little signs, wall decals, and other accessories like this that you can sell in your online store to help people bring that little bit of joy to their homes. These butterfly decals are a kid-friendly home improvement project that can change the entire vibe of a room. 

This might extend outside too. These house numbers are a simple but fun upgrade to the outside of the home. There are tons more styles to browse, too. 

Ergonomics

On the topic of home decor and goods, ergonomic accessories are a must. Specifically, think cushions. 

We’re all spending a lot more time on our butts – and it’s getting uncomfortable. We’re turning couches into workstations, kitchen stools into classrooms, whatever we need to adjust to this new lifestyle. Gel seat cushions (like these) make the perfect addition for anyone who’s homebound. 

Consider the amount of time people spending standing up in the kitchen, cooking more meals than they might normally. Ergonomic mats underfoot can make it a little more comfortable. 

Quiet pet toys

The animals are freaking out that humans are home so much. They’ve become the new annoying coworker. Except these coworkers do more than gossip at the water cooler. They slobber all over you, walk on your keyboard, and even cry for food when they’re hungry. 

The hype used to be about dog vests or glow-in-the-dark pet collars. But now it’s about keeping the pets at bay while the humans are busy with other things. And keeping them at bay quietly – no squeaky toys allowed. 

This dog chew toy is silent and also dispenses treats – keeping dogs distracted so people at home can focus.

At-home hobbies

Those of use without kids or animals at home might have a lot of extra time on our hands. And we’re looking to spend more time on our hobbies, or discover new ones, with that time. 

There are lots of directions you can go here. Knitting and crocheting, puzzles, painting and drawing, even woodworking. The possibilities are, quite literally, endless. 

Think of at-home hobbies that abide by the social distancing guidelines – so not something like fishing or playing volleyball.

Here’s a trendy one: 5D diamond painting. Some Google searching has revealed that this is some sort of art where you create images from rhinestone “diamonds.” It made its way into its own category on AliExpress, so it’s probably trending as a hobby.

If 5D diamond painting doesn’t do it for you, consider a niche you already know. Look for products in that niche and build your own Shopify store around that. You can always adjust the products you sell according to shifts in the economy and consumer behavior. 

Play spaces

With everyone home and on top of each other, people might be wanting to carve out their own private space in their homes. The idea here is to give people an option to separate work life from home life, even though both happen in the same environment. And kids might want their own space too. 

You can do a lot to serve parents during this time. Remember, parents are working from home, homeschooling their kids, and entertaining and feeding everyone. That’s a lot for anyone to handle. 

One technique that helps with this is having separate spaces so the kids know where they can play and where it’s mom and dad’s “office.” and maybe that improves the chance of them staying there as the parents work. That’s why I think place space mats like this one could be good for their own online store.

These play mats are the perfect visual indicator for kids that this is their space – safe to play! 

Room dividers and partitions also have their place. This bamboo one even has removable shelves for small plants and trinkets.

Note: If you want to explore other ways to sell to parents so they can entertain their children, that’s a great idea. Just be careful when sourcing products from other suppliers – don’t sell products that kids could put in their mouth and potentially choke on. It’s a liability that you don’t want to have on your plate.

Home gym

The kids have their play space, and adults need theirs too. Although working out might not be “fun” for everyone, this mostly sedentary lifestyle demands we get up and get moving. 

Gyms are closed, yoga classes are online, and boot camps happen via video chat. Workout programs are running free or discounted promos, and everyone is looking for ways to stay fit while at home. 

The demand for home gym accessories are likely to continue to rise. A quick look at Google Trends shows how searches for “home gym” have spiked to higher levels than they’ve been the past five years.

 

These resistance bands are small and easy to store at home, plus you can do a resistance band workout just about anywhere. Not to mention all the different types of exercises you can do with them. 

Other ideas? Free weights, yoga mats and props, exercise balls, and jump ropes all make good home gym accessories. Then create how-to guides and workout tutorials that people can follow at home while they use your products. 

Running accessories

Not all exercise is being done at home. Many people have taken up walking and running both as a physical fitness activity as well as a way to get out of the house and change scenery. 

You can cater to this group by selling them running accessories that makes this hobby easier. This waistband is a smart product idea because it allows people to carry their essentials with them while they go on a run. In some places, people are required to carry identification and proof of address on their person – and runners have few places to put stuff.

An armband like this can also handle the job.

Salon-at-home

While our situation isn’t exactly a staycation – it’s more like being on house arrest – any little treats we can give ourselves are welcome. Some folks might be looking to DIY spa treatments or even ongoing maintenance for hair and nail care. 

So a fantastic online business idea would be to look for products that help people maintain their self-care routines at home. Gel nail polish is one great idea. For example, my mom is really struggling with the idea that she won’t be able to get her nails done for the foreseeable future. 

Other ideas for spa self care? Diffusers for essential oils, herbal face steams, and bath pillows are just a few to get your started. 

Pro tip: Avoid sourcing products that go on skin. People could have allergic reactions, another liability that you don’t need to make yourself vulnerable to.

Home monitoring

Last but not least for trending online business ideas is home monitoring accessories. Now, we don’t need to worry about home security. We’re all home, all day, every day. Not exactly ideal circumstances for home theft. 

But what we do want to monitor is things that matter in our current circumstances: things like air quality, humidity, internet usage, etc. Consumers will look for products that help them monitor different aspects of their indoor lives. 

This home monitor allows people to gauge humidity in their apartments.

More people are starting indoor gardens, and gauging humidity is an important part of keeping plants flourishing. Look for other ways that you can help people measure humidity or temperature in their own homes in smart ways and accessories that help them to do this.

Conclusion

Entrepreneurs are in a unique position to play a critical role in helping people take care of themselves during this time period. If you can create strong customer relationships during this difficult time, you have a great chance at turning them into lifelong customers when things get back to “normal” – whatever that may look like. The most successful online entrepreneurs are nimble and know how to adapt to changes in the economy and consumer behavior. 

Which trending products are you looking to sell? 

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