UK Digital Trends by Generation 2020

Digital Habits Before, During and After the Pandemic

About This Report
Young consumers have led the way in terms of digital habits and consumption through the pandemic, but older age groups have been forced to catch up. Some old habits may die hard in these groups, but the digital future has definitely been hastened.

Executive Summary

The pandemic has fundamentally altered how UK consumers go about their everyday lives, no matter their age. Some habits may stick better than others, but the reality is one of an altered—and increasingly digital—future.

How have digital shopping habits changed across age groups in the UK?

The biggest pendulum swing came in older age groups, as they were forced to shop digitally from home. While digital shopping is not as prevalent among older consumers, the cohort offers the promise of bigger transaction values. They are most likely to return to their old ways of shopping in-store post-lockdown, though. Younger cohorts are and continue to be digital shoppers, with the pandemic serving to only increase their habits.

Which media benefitted from lockdown, and will new consumption patterns endure?

Digital media consumption went up massively during lockdown, but so did traditional TV viewing. Young consumers took to whatever media they could get their hands on—including TV—but once things return to normal, digital patterns will resume, with TV time reverting to a declining trend.

How have different age groups used social platforms?

Perceived wisdom holds true for social platforms. Facebook is increasingly frequented by older age groups, with younger folks flocking to newer alternatives. TikTok, in particular, has attracted a lot of attention during lockdown. This platform, where social and video collide, is also beginning to appeal to groups beyond just kids and teens.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report looks at the changing patterns of behavior across age groups, concentrating on shopping habits, media consumption and social media use. It considers trends before and during the pandemic, as well as what may stick.

KEY STAT: Lockdown led to a significant uptick in the amount of time people were spending online daily. The biggest jump was seen in the 18-to-24 age group, which saw a 53-minute increase from the start of the year (January) to full lockdown (April).

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Pandemic Effects: Across-the-Board Changes in Consumer Habits
  3. Shopping Habits
  4. Media Consumption
  1. Social Media Use
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Maryam Banikarim
Head of Marketing
Interviewed July 1, 2020
Izabela Catiru
Product Marketing Manager
Interviewed June 10, 2020
Ameet Chandarana
Managing Director and Founder
Interviewed July 2, 2020
Rachelle Denton
The Storm Collective
Creative Strategy Director and Co-Founder
Interviewed June 15, 2020
Paul Frampton
Control v Exposed
Interviewed June 25, 2020
Vanessa Goff-Yu
Marketing Director
Interviewed June 16, 2020
Lewis Hadley
Head of Insights and Digital Marketing
Interviewed June 16, 2020
James Hanscomb
GroupM Digital
Head of Ecommerce
Interviewed June 16, 2020
Chris Hardiman
Product Director
Interviewed June 16, 2020
Amy Jackson
Business Director
Interviewed June 24, 2020
Susanne McKinley
Tetra Pak
Marketing Manager
Interviewed June 24, 2020
Rachel Powney
Vice President, Marketing
Interviewed June 25, 2020
Jennifer Stanley
Appetite Creative
Founder and Managing Director
Interviewed June 24, 2020
Tereza Vincalek
GroupM Digital
Agency Engagement Lead
Interviewed June 16, 2020
Jamie Wilson
Chief Commercial
Interviewed June 16, 2020

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Bill Fisher


Mark Dolliver
Principal Analyst
Angela Kim
Senior Researcher
Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst