The Next Big Theme: December 2020

Dec 11, 2020

The Next Big Theme: Thematic Newsletter Global X ETFs

Video Games & Esports

Football Legends Takes on Madden NFL

The NFL announced a virtual Pro Bowl this year instead of the intended Las Vegas event at Allegiant Stadium. The plan is to have players compete live on Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL ’21 video game. The event will be a week-long with many celebrities and football legends taking part as well. The NFL hopes to reach a younger audience with this digital innovation, while also reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmissions. Successfully executing this event also brands Madden as not only a video game, but an interactive esports platform. As with many esports events around the world, there is an objective to simulate the in-person event through features such as optics to mimic the real stadium environment.1 With consumer spending on video gaming in the U.S. reaching $11.2 billion in the third quarter of 2020, up 24% year-over-year (YoY), events like these help perpetuate the growth of the video games industry.2


Shop Guilt Free with Buy Now Pay Later

Afterpay, Quadpay, Klarna, and Affirm, are just a few companies leading the emerging Fintech vertical for consumers looking to shop immediate products without immediate payments. Enter Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL.) As a consumer, making large purchases with an upfront payment of just 25% of the total price is enticing and potentially more affordable. This is evident in studies which confirm 87% of buyers ages 22 to 44 are interested in having the flexibility to break large purchases into monthly installments.3 BNPL is also a favorable option to those with poor or nonexistent credit. BNPL offers consumers no additional interest on their payment installments—rather charging the retail giants they partner with a fee. Occasionally, BNPL companies will charge a late payment fee, but flexibility in payment plans is another advantage for consumers.4 Afterpay, a pioneer in the industry with over 55,000 brands on its platform, is the only public company from the aforementioned group, and has seen its sales increase 112% YoY during the September quarter.5 On the IPO front, San Francisco-based firm Affirm, filed its IPO prospectus recently and its looking to go public before year end.6


Voters Go Green This Election

Election Day resulted in statewide approval of legalizing the use and distribution of cannabis for both medical and personal usage by adults. The consensus was overwhelmingly unanimous among a range of political affiliations. Mississippi legalized medical cannabis while Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey legalized recreational cannabis use by adults.7 South Dakota passed both the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis on the same ballot. The dual approval is the first ever for any U.S. state, paving the way for other states to adopt a similar approach. Considering only ten years ago recreational cannabis was illegal in all 50 states, these results present a nationwide push to relax cannabis’ laws. After these initiatives, 33% of the population will have access to legalized cannabis for adult use and 70% of all states have legalized cannabis for medical use.8

Social Media

Snapchat Shines the Spotlight on Top Creators

TikTok sees an unprecedented competitor in Snapchat and its new Spotlight feature. The app claims a payout of $1 million a day to creators whose videos perform the best among other users.9 It is a natural step for Snapchat in order to stay relevant amid Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok’s growing popularity with entertaining videos. The private aspect of Snapchat, which drew in users initially to the platform, is also a reason monetization and widespread interactivity have been challenging. Spotlight combats this by allowing creators to be private if they choose to.10 The launch is now available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and France and allows users to submit and view videos internationally and domestically. Each video will garner at least 100 viewers and the algorithm will boost videos with higher engagement. Snapchat hopes this new feature will also increase exposure to its preexisting features such as 3D filters, and VR tools.11


A Cure to Cancer in Genetic Manipulation

A new development in the search for a cure to cancer targets brain and ovarian cancer. Researchers at Tel Aviv University implemented the CRISPR/Cas9 system which refers to a lipid nanoparticle-based delivery. Using genetic manipulation, a messenger RNA encodes an enzyme, Cas9, which cuts the affected cells’ DNA. To test this system, researchers targeted Glioblastoma and metastatic ovarian cancer due to their aggressive nature. Treatment of the CRISPR system increased life expectancy by 30% in mice with Glioblastoma and by 80% in mice with metastatic ovarian cancer.12 The study demonstrated the effectiveness of the CRISPR/Cas9 system due to its permanence and lack of side effects.


E-commerce continues to Rise

Total U.S. retail sales for the third quarter of 2020 were around $1,468.9 billion up 12% from the second quarter and 36.7% YoY. 14.3% of total retail sales in the third quarter were attributed to e-commerce sales.13 E-commerce has been invaluable for small businesses as well—with a 110% increase in online sales during Black Friday weekend and the early holiday season.14 COVID-19 forced about 23% of small businesses to close doors.15 Shopify and Etsy, two of the platforms for individuals and small businesses to offer online sales, saw 75% and 108% revenue growth YoY during Black Friday weekend, respectively.16 The forecasted aggregate e-commerce sales growth from November to December 2020 is 30% higher than 2019’s figures during the same period due to the pandemic.17


The following charts examine returns and sales growth expectations by theme, based on their corresponding ETFs.


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To learn more about the disruptive themes changing our world, read the latest research from Global X, including:


To see individual ETF holdings and current performance across the Global X Thematic Growth Suite, click the below links:

Multi-Theme: Global X Thematic Growth ETF (GXTG)


Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no guarantee the strategies discussed will be successful. International investments may involve risk of capital loss from unfavorable fluctuation in currency values, from differences in generally accepted accounting principles or from economic or political instability in other nations. Emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors as well as increased volatility and lower trading volume. Narrowly focused investments may be subject to higher volatility. The funds are non-diversified.

Information Technology companies can be affected by rapid product obsolescence, and intense industry competition. Risks include disruption in service caused by hardware or software failure; interruptions or delays in service by third-parties; security breaches involving certain private, sensitive, proprietary and confidential information managed and transmitted; and privacy concerns and laws, evolving Internet regulation and other foreign or domestic regulations that may limit or otherwise affect the operations. Healthcare, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and Medical Device companies can be affected by government regulations, expiring patents, rapid product obsolescence, and intense industry competition. Investments in the consumer discretionary and retailing industries are subject to risks such as changes in domestic and international economies, interest rates, competition and consumer confidence; disposable household income; consumer tastes and preferences; intense competition; changing demographics; marketing and public perception; and dependence on third-party suppliers and distribution systems. The risks related to investing social media companies include disruption in service caused by hardware or software failure, interruptions or delays in service by third-parties, security breaches involving certain private, sensitive, proprietary and confidential information managed and transmitted by social media companies, and privacy concerns and laws, evolving Internet regulation and other foreign or domestic regulations that may limit or otherwise affect the operations of such companies. Video Game and Esports Companies are subject to risks associated with additional regulatory oversight with regard to privacy/cybersecurity concerns, shifting consumer preferences, and potential licensing challenges.

Investments in the cannabis industry may be susceptible to loss due to adverse occurrences affecting this industry. The cannabis industry is a very young, fast evolving industry with increased exposure to the risks associated with changes in applicable laws (including increased regulation, other rule changes, and related federal and state enforcement activities), as well as market developments, which may cause businesses to contract or close suddenly and negatively impact the value of securities held by the Fund.  Cannabis Companies are subject to various laws and regulations that may differ at the state/local, federal and international level. These laws and regulations may significantly affect a Cannabis Company’s ability to secure financing and traditional banking services, impact the market for cannabis business sales and services, and set limitations on cannabis use, production, transportation, export and storage. The possession, use and importation of marijuana remains illegal under U.S. federal law. Federal law criminalizing the use of marijuana remains enforceable notwithstanding state laws that legalize its use for medicinal and recreational purposes. This conflict creates volatility and risk for all Cannabis Companies, and any stepped-up enforcement of marijuana laws by the federal government could adversely affect the value of investments.

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