COVID-19’s Impact on the Education Industry​: An Exclusive Survey

Managing Editor
state of the K-12 industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the work of the nation’s school districts, forcing companies across the K-12 market to make huge decisions about their pricing, product development, customer outreach, and overall strategy.

In an effort to enable businesses serving the school marketplace to benchmark their efforts, EdWeek Market Brief is releasing the results of a pair of exclusive surveys of more than 1,700 education company officials on what their businesses are experiencing during the era of the coronavirus, and what they think is coming next.

This special report, offered exclusively to EdWeek Market Brief members – gives education companies across the market a critical window into the state of the K-12 industry, and a view of companies’ successes and challenges trying to win over school district buyers.

The benchmark report is based on a survey of a broad cross-section of education company officials, including CEOs, other executives in the C-suite, company vice-presidents, and directors or managers in key departments.

Their companies are selling an array of products and services in the market, including supplemental and core curriculum, assessment, professional development, blended/online learning, social-emotional learning, special education, learning management and student information systems, and devices and infrastructure.

The report delivers insights on many critical issues for education companies:

• How the coronavirus has affected their current sales, near-term revenue expectations, spending plans, and staffing across a variety of departments
• What pricing strategies companies have chosen, and how long they will be running those strategies
• Companies’ timelines and successes in converting district buyers from free materials during COVID to paid offerings
• The biggest barriers vendors have faced in engaging with districts — and how they’re breaking through
• What role federal programs like the Paycheck Protection Program have played for education businesses
• And more…

More than 40 percent of companies surveyed have experienced a slowing of sales during Covid-19. One-third have seen a decline in their ability to pilot products. But the report also finds that many education providers are still pushing ahead with investments in many core aspects of their operations – from sales to marketing to product development to market research.

The data also reveal when, exactly, most K-12 companies are planning to switch districts from free use of products to paid models – at the end of the summer, or the end of the coming academic year, or beyond.

Sixty-five percent of companies that have offered free products during Covid-19 have tried to convert districts to paid, but they’re having mixed success in making that switch, the survey found.

In another section of the report, EdWeek Market Brief looks at the scope of companies’ hiring, layoffs, furloughs, and internal movements of staff within specific areas of their operations, such as sales, marketing, customer success, business development, and product development.

In addition, the report asked K-12 businesses what they’ve learned about their products/services’ shortcomings. “We need to be more nimble and fast-track some of our internal decision-making processes,” one business leader told EdWeek Market Brief. “Support services must be provided 24-7, not just during normal business hours,” another company official observed. Said a third: “We are turning all product and curriculum into seamless transition from school to home, and moving to memberships rather than sales of product.”

For other peer-to-peer insights from companies trying to navigate the Covid-19 landscape, check out the full benchmark report — or ask EdWeek Market Brief for information on how to become a member.

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