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

In the first blog our planning Director, Steve Brunt has already looked at how everyday habits are formed, shaped and influenced by the enforced period of lockdown. 

In this second blog, he goes on to explore the impact of the lockdown on consumer behaviour; how our cues, means and motivations have changed and what the new normal might look like. 


The impact of the lockdown on consumer behaviour can be measured in three dimensions:

The Moment: no cues

Many of the triggers that normally cue our behaviours aren’t available to us, like:

  • Commuting
  • School run
  • Home time
  • Wednesday wine

The Means: ease of action

  • Ability is a function of which resources are in short supply
  • We have time to wait, and space for thought
  • And even money to spend
  • But less appetite for risk or for straying from the herd

The Motivation: rewards

  • Most of the time we shop with confidence and self-interest
  • But the lockdown has brought about a rise in community spirit and also real fears about our own security
  • The mindset of shoppers has been shifted, and many brands have adapted to this too

The new routine

So we’ve quickly adapted – falling into new routines for eating, working, home-schooling, caffeinating, socialising, exercising and shopping.

  • Personal care – more WFH, less shaving, hairwashing, make-up, showering. Plus – running down the stocks?
  • Financial services – reset button, less spending opportunities so more saving? Less confidence, lost income – more credit?
  • Grocery – current impact – less shopping occasions, larger spend. Disguising multiple counter trends – less food-on-the-go, less daily, less spontaneous, more local, more planned, more spread across the week, more delivery. Lasting impact? shopping to the list, or to a schedule, reduces impulse buying. Deals look wasteful/selfish.
  • Home – having to make do, no external help available. Expect a rush to get jobs done by tradespeople, expect sprucing and liveability minor investments. Wear and tear on home appliances and furniture. Hygiene remains a priority.

Won and lost habits 

  • Lost good habits – food bank donations; using public transport
  • Lost bad habits – gambling on football; on-the-go packaged goods; smoking/drugs?
  • Gained good habits – regular exercise; mealtimes together; zooming F&F; checking in with vulnerable neighbours; better hand washing and hygiene awareness
  • Gained bad habits – daily drinking; social media overdosing; casual approach to personal care

The novelty’s yet to wear off, so it’s too early to say which of these new behaviours will stick, and which old habits we’ll snap straight back to given the chance.

The new normal

Whatever we thought a few weeks ago, it’s now apparent that the impact of the lockdown on consumer behaviour – our new habits – will be with us for some time. The implications for retail business models are profound. 

Whilst there may be aspects of life that will abruptly restart, for a lot of what we do, the return will be gradual or long-delayed. 

What seems certain is that some of the ‘new’ habits are here to stay, too. 

This seems likely to be a breakthrough for home-working and video-meetings, for instance. Even the most reluctant employers have had to embrace that reality. 

Naturally that impacts businesses – like education, events and training – that heavily incline towards face to face. And also specific business functions – like sales and account management – whose relationships and influence will be very different via zoom.

But think of all the indirect ripples this phenomenon sends through transport, IT, commercial real estate, insurance.

Old assumptions will give way to new realities, and new business models will arise.

Next blog…

In the third blog in this series, we look at the post lockdown implications for brands. What habits will stick or be blown apart? And what opportunities or threats are there from the inevitable changes to our habits?

Steve Brunt Planning Director

By Steve Brunt

Planning Director