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.

In this third blog, we look at the post lockdown implications for brands. The habits that will stick or be blown apart, and the opportunities and threats from the inevitable changes to our habits.


Post lockdown implications for brands that rely on our routines – like coffee shops, gyms, supermarkets and pubs its make or break stuff.

What if we embrace our independent exercise routines, and don’t fancy going back to wiping down the gym equipment?

What if a latte and a croissant on the morning commute no longer seems necessary (or the commute itself is no more)?

What if empty shelves drive us to discover and embrace other (even preferable) ways to buy – farm shops, the milk round, veg boxes, online, local stores?

For most businesses, the lockdown is either a threat, an opportunity, or both.

Highly habitual categories


  • Coffee
  • Food-on-the-go
  • Gym, exercise
  • Grocery, personal care
  • Pubs

Highly cued/IFTTT (If this then that)

  • Pharmacy
  • Hairdressing
  • Gambling
  • Convenience

Bouncing back to the old routine?

A few brands can perhaps count on simply bouncing back.

The pent-up demand remains, no obvious alternative exists, the old habits will simply return once the constraints are removed.

And many people won’t have replaced their old ways. Not everyone can easily build a new routine that requires effort and lacks a trigger. We can’t go to the gym, but we also don’t have the trigger moments that normally tell us to.

We’re going to come out of lockdown accustomed to structure and routine, and plunged back into a world of spontaneity and the unpredictable. We’ll dive back in, but we’ll also want to be able to reach the sides of the pool.

But for most brands, waiting for the demand to bounce back would be a complacent and risky strategy.



There are businesses gaining customers from the lockdown. 

In which case, how can those gains be retained and consolidated as the new habit? 


Businesses that weren’t the default behaviour before, but who can offer something valuable and different now. 

A weekly grocery shop has always been a pretty bad way to keep the house stocked. 

The once antiquated milk-round now suddenly looks like a smart start-up for delivering essentials at the rate we actually get through them.  


Market leaders are often a convenient, unconscious choice rather than the best – or even deliberate – choice. 

In disrupted supply, the rest of the market has a chance to shine. 

Challengers in FMCG categories might stand to benefit from their market leader’s loss of default status. Can they capitalise?


Our newly formed routines will offer brands a chance to resonate with consumers they couldn’t previously reach. 

Our new exercise behaviours take us away from the major brands that dominated team sports, and might redirect the direct-debit to the gym to new spending. 

Our new entertainment and social behaviours will offer new media and branding opportunities.



Many businesses were built on habits that aren’t possible during lockdown. 

Coffee shops find themselves here. How can they reconnect with long-lost customers? 

Retail brands will fall back on their local marketing playbooks: new store openings, refits, underperforming stores. 

But this isn’t about recovering trade lost to competitors, but restoring the whole habit. 


When a brand’s shelf space is empty, shoppers (and warehouse pickers) will reach for the natural substitute. What if the compromise becomes a habit? 


Gyms, cinemas and pubs will be fearful that the share of wallet that came their way is now going to directly competitive behaviours – home exercise, streaming services, video-meetups. 

This is not simply a question of restoring the old habits, but breaking the new ones.

Next blog…

In the fourth and final blog in this series on the role of consumer habits post lockdown, we’ll look at some behavioural-led strategies for brands post-lockdown. How brands can plan and adapt to the new normal, and how they can lock in new habits or rebuild old ones.

Steve Brunt Planning Director

By Steve Brunt

Planning Director