Toby Clark
Toby Clark is Director of EMEA Research, and is responsible for many Mintel report series, tracking consumer sentiment and top-level spending intentions in the UK.

The first lockdown led to an unprecedented shift in consumer behaviour. Partly through choice, and partly because many options were simply no longer available, people sharply reduced spending across most categories. The scale of disruption caused by the second lockdown won’t be anywhere near that seen in March 2020 – but only because many of the initial spending changes have been maintained despite the gradual lifting of restrictions over the summer.

In this two-part series, we explore six opportunities brands could tap into in the second lockdown.

Although the professional services will be impacted in the beauty sector, there are rays of hope

With beauty salons already operating at reduced capacity since reopening in July, and many already investing heavily in ensuring that their premises were COVID-19 compliant, the professional industry will be most severely impacted by the second lockdown. And the timing of the closures will compound the damage done, as the lead up to Christmas is usually the busiest time of the year for the sector.

The impact on the professional sector will be at least somewhat balanced by an increase in DIY beauty. Hair colourants fared especially well during the last lockdown, for example, as young women in particular used the time to experiment with their hair. This behaviour will be repeated in this second lockdown.

Many also turned to their beauty routines for self-care/wellbeing benefits with 38% of those who did more beauty and personal care (BPC) activities since COVID-19 saying that they did so to reduce stress or anxiety and 33% to treat or pamper themselves.

Skincare will benefit here, as will health and hygiene categories; these sectors are already seeing increased spend since the outbreak.

A pivot to online festivities could boost foodservice and hospitality

The foodservice, leisure and hospitality industries have all been forced to show huge inventiveness in order to find a way to function in the new environment. Full-service restaurants have pivoted to delivery, personal trainers have moved online and city centre restaurants have started to offer meal kits.

No amount of ingenuity can hope to fully replace the revenue that a full festive season would generate in normal times, but the switch to remote working could create an opportunity to capitalise on virtual office parties and other socialising occasions.

Grocers will reap most of the benefits from the shift to at-home socialising, but there are still opportunities for foodservice operators to create meal kits and catering packs for family festivities – especially given consumers’ desire to support local businesses.

A strong end to an already strong year for household care

Although the lockdown will be a net positive to the household care sector, we are not expecting it to significantly shift demand. There may be some stockpiling, particularly if people worry about product availability in the run-up to Christmas, but we’re not expecting anything close to the level that was seen during the first lockdown. Many of the big changes have already happened: people are used to lockdown living, and the increased amount of time spent at home means that cleaning habits had never fully returned to pre-lockdown patterns.

There are still opportunities out there, however, particularly when it comes to COVID-19-related product claims. Domestos are already running TV campaigns highlighting the fact that bleach kills COVID-19, and a resurgence of consumer concern over the risk of being exposed to the virus will mean that cleaning power is still at the top of shoppers’ agenda.