Lockdown Unlocked: understanding consumer habits in a time of crisis

Wondering how consumer preferences and behaviours are changing because of COVID-19 lockdowns? Lockdown Unlocked, an insight community study from our consumer insight and analytics team at Sparkler, is exploring how the public is reacting to this unprecedented upheaval.

COVID-19 has affected how people work, communicate, shop, exercise and relax. Consumers are forming new routines and habits and finding new ways of doing things. Organisations need to keep up with all this change to understand what people are thinking, feeling and doing, and what they want from organisations now and in the future.

Lockdown Unlocked is navigating this changing consumer landscape, unlocking and sharing live findings that can help organisations consider how best to respond. We have a qualitative community of 40 people from across the UK telling us how they’ve been coping with their new reality through weekly video and diary tasks. We also have a quantitative, representative community of more than 1,000 people answering weekly questionnaires.

To explore changes in attitude, behaviour, needs and expectations within different sectors, each week we explore a different segment of our Wheel of Life frameworks (below). Scroll past the image for links to all our insights. We’ll be adding new links to different sectors each week, so keep an eye out for the latest from Lockdown Unlocked.

Health and fitness

In our first edition of Lockdown Unlocked, we profiled attitudes and practices towards health and fitness. We found that, despite being confined, we’re moving more than you might think. And that has big consequences for digital health offerings.

Food and drink

How have consumers' habits changed when it comes to shopping for food and drink? We explore how people are shopping differently under lockdown, creativity is flourishing in the kitchen and people are reimagining mealtimes.

Discover our food and drink insights

Communication and information

What do people really think of all the communications they’re getting from brands around COVID-19? Our research community has told us where brands are falling short, what they want to hear from brands and how brands can strike the right tone.

Discover the communications insights

Money and finance

New financial attitudes, behaviours and needs are emerging due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lockdown Unlocked explores how financial difficulties aren’t universal, the focus on long-term financial health has increased and people are getting to grips with their personal finances.

Discover our money and finance insights


How are entertainment needs, behaviours and attitudes changing because of COVID-19? And what are consumers looking for as we move forward? Explore how escapism is driving entertainment choice, gaming is filling the gaps left by live sport and in-person socialising, and younger audiences are changing the most.

Discover our entertainment insights 

Shopping and retail

The pandemic is giving rise to new consumer shopping behaviours, attitudes and needs. Find out from the Lockdown Unlocked community how not everyone favours online shopping, consumers are less expectant of service levels but demand honest communication, and shopping has become more planned and purposeful.

Discover our shopping and retail insights

Travel and transport

The travel and transport sectors have seen enormous upheaval as people reassess their plans and priorities considering government restrictions and infection risks. So, we asked our community about their plans for international travel, how they feel about using public transport and what modes of transport they feel are safe.

Discover our travel and transport insights 


How we use technology at home has changed during the pandemic. Find out how consumers’ reliance on technology has grown stronger, their privacy concerns are growing and what aspects of these trends they think will stay after lockdown.

Discover our technology insights

Health and diet

As the UK’s lockdown eases, we revisit people’s attitudes to health and their habits around food and drink. Find out what health concerns remain, how lockdown is continuing to take its toll on mental wellbeing – particularly amongst younger people – and how people feel about going to the supermarket.

Discover our health and diet insights

Work and education

The formal aspects of consumers’ lives have seen as big a shift as their personal lives. And we’ve found that many parents are struggling with education at home, younger people are looking to take control of their future and, for many, the last few months working from home have been a proof of concept.

Discover our work and education insights

Fashion and clothing

Consumer needs, tastes and attitudes to fashion and clothing have evolved because of COVID-19. So, this week on Lockdown Unlocked, we explored how shopping for clothes in-person is as a risk for most, the lack of changing rooms is a barrier to buying, yet some people have increased their spend on clothing, fashion and footwear.

Discover our fashion and clothing insights

Websites and apps

What people want from websites and apps, and the way they use them, has changed during the pandemic. So, Lockdown Unlocked explored the trends driving great customer experiences, finding that digital engagement has increased, trust is more important and being clear on COVID-19 policies is key.

Discover our websites and apps insights

Big-ticket items

As non-essential retailers start to reopen, we look at how consumers are feeling about big-ticket purchases like white goods, cars and other purchases with chunky price tags. We explore how big-ticket purchases have slipped down the agenda for many, money isn’t the only barrier and those who have made the leap to buy big online have been pleasantly surprised.

Discover our insights into big-ticket purchases

Social media

With social restrictions easing across the UK, Lockdown Unlocked explored how our social media use has changed and what new behaviours will stick around. We look at how we used more social media during the lockdown, how our uses for social media evolved and how we’ll use social media as restrictions ease further.

Discover our social media insights

Money and finance

New financial attitudes, behaviours and needs emerged due to  COVID-19. In phase two of Lockdown Unlocked, we reassess the financial landscape and find that in many respects there has been less change than anticipated.

Discover our money and finance insights


Sparkler conducted research in early 2020, and found that over half of participants felt they had a personal responsibility to live sustainably, and many exhibited various eco-conscious behaviours. Given the changes in consumer lives due to COVID-19, Lockdown Unlocked has re-explored the topic. Plastic and packaging still remains top of mind, however sustainability may be a trade-off on price, quality or convenience on personal safety during COVID-19. 

Discover our sustainability insights

Willing and able

‘Willing & Able’ is a tool we’ve been using over the recent months to segment the UK adult population in terms of their Willingness to get back into the wider world and their Ability to spend money. 

Discover our willing and able insights

Travel and transport

In phase one of 'Lockdown Unlocked', we assessed how people were feeling around travel and transport, and we found considerable barriers and nervousness amongst consumers. Now in phase two, attitudes haven’t shifted as much as we might have expected. 

Discover our travel and transport insights


Looking ahead to the holiday season, we explore how people are feeling about the festive season and planning for the day itself. 

Discover our Christmas insights


We explore how people’s entertainment needs, attitudes and behaviours have shifted since phase one of 'Lockdown Unlocked'.

Discover our entertainment insights

Explore more

Contact the team

We look forward to hearing from you.

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