This is a 4 blog series on the role of consumer habits post lockdown.

Our planning Director, Steve Brunt has already looked at how everyday habits are formed, shaped and influenced by the enforced period of lockdown in blog 1, and explored the impact of the lockdown on consumer behaviour in blog 2. He’s also looked at the post lock down implications for brands in blog 3.

In this final blog in the series, he looks at behavioural led strategies post lockdown. How brands can plan and adapt to the new normal, and how they can lock in new habits or rebuild old ones.


The answers lie in behavioural science. Applying its scientific insights into how habits form and how they can be changed.

The brands that emerge strongest from the pandemic will be those that have observed how patterns have changed, adapted to accommodate or capitalise, and adopted behavioural-led strategies post lockdown.

Some specific goals

Building a habit loop


People plunged back into the chaos of unlockdowned society may actually appreciate having some handrails to grab onto.

Building around the steady points of our lives – location, times of day and of the week, being with work colleagues and households. Using these we can build some behavioural-led strategies post lockdown, which lock in old habits or rebuild new habits.

The Cues toolbox

Locking in a new habit

  1. Own the moment and establish regularity – eg a subscription model. Link to a persistent behaviour/cue, like a time of day/week.
  2. Use scheduling by pre-planning the return to normality: “the first thing I’ll do when I can get out again”.
  3. Tag on to the beginning or end of another pattern
  4. Use monitoring – what we measure we affect

Rebuilding an old habit

  1. Evoke/retrieve memories by playing back the story of the ritual. For coffee shops, this is the barista interactions, the chocolate sprinkle moment.
  2. Use scheduling by pre-planning the return to normality
  3. Use their data – recreate the pattern
  4. Use delayed gratification – make lockdown the wait

Easy Actions

We’re all going out of our way at the moment, compromising on time/money/effort/thought, and minimising risk and maximising community.

But it’s far too much thought to actually grocery shop this way once the artificial constraints and enablers go away.

Our lives are predictable now. We know who’s in for dinner. Everyone. We know roughly how much food the household gets through in a lockdown week now.

Our lives might be less predictable than ever after lockdown. We’ll still be risk-averse, and we’ll maintain our attitude to money.

But we’ll be a little less herd-led, and unconsciously looking for the path of least resistance, so saving time, thought and effort will appeal to our brains.

The Ease toolbox

Locking in a new habit

  1. Remove thought  – order ahead, automate it
  2. Remove effort – deliver it
  3. Remove divergence  – socialise it
  4. Use identity – the new you

Rebuilding an old habit

  1. Lower the barriers – welcome back discounts
  2. Use social proof/FOMO – everyone else is doing it
  3. Use commitment – even cost can be a lever
  4. Use familiarity – be what they know

Motivating Outcomes

Right now people will make compromises for the good of the vulnerable and key workers.

Because it feels good to be part of a community.

Because it feels safe.

Because we know we can trust the big brands/ big stores/ big deliverers.

Many of the changes towards belonging and security won’t last. All this fellow feeling is likely to fall away and we’ll go back to barely speaking to our neighbours, let alone picking up flour for them.

But brands that have been able to build this into their positioning will continue to benefit from the associations.

And it’s a breakthrough moment for D2C brands who have both convenience and ethical purpose advantages that resonate now.

The Motivations tool box

Locking in a new habit

  1. Tie in to a foundational benefit (like better sleep)
  2. Identify and own the most satisfying moment
  3. Pair with another necessary action
  4. Associate to lockdown pro-social behaviours

Rebuilding an old habit

  1. Tap into competitive/ improving mindset
  2. Bring back memory of the most satisfying moment
  3. Use a before/after contrast
  4. Use identity – this is the kind of person I am



Targeting the cue – Leveraging repeating patterns

Targeting the action – Minimising friction, maximising flow

Targeting motivation – Reinforcing intrinsic rewards

Steve Brunt Planning Director

By Steve Brunt

Planning Director