The 3 categories of post-lockdown consumer and how to win them back

As the out-of-home eating and drinking market reboots, how can operators and suppliers encourage people to come back?

As the out-of-home eating and drinking market reboots, how can operators and suppliers encourage people to come back? CGA’s MATCH segmentation service provides vital insights into the people who have returned, and identifies ways for operators and suppliers to tempt more hesitant guests through the doors. Here are three key phases of returners to watch.

1 The early enthusiasts

CGA’s Consumer Pulse research shows that just over a third (35%) of adults came back to England’s restaurants, pubs and bars in the first ten days of reopening—and the charge was led by the youngest, most engaged and highest spending segments. Well over half (55%) of 25 to 34 year-olds have been out—as have those in the Trending Tastemakers category of comfortably-off trend-spotters (63%) and the Business Class Seekers segment of affluent and influential consumers (51%).

These are crucial groups for the sector, both spending an average of more than £200 a month on eating and drinking out before the pandemic. Those who continued working in lockdown while spending less are now treating themselves to food and drink on their return—and that has contributed to a fresh polarisation between the premium and value ends of the market.

2 The second wave

Following close behind these enthusiastic returners to the on-trade are two more valuable consumer segments from MATCH. Pubs, bars and restaurants have welcomed nearly half (46%) of those in the Mainstream Minded group—people who enjoy popular venues, especially at weekends—and more than a third (37%) of Confident Conformists—consumers who regularly eat and drink out and who like to follow trends.

For operators and suppliers alike, it is encouraging to see these four groups return relatively quickly to the on-trade,” says Charlie Mitchell, CGA’s Research & Insights Director. “Trending Tastemakers and Business Class Seekers have given restaurants a useful kickstart, and the number of pubs reopening has been good news for Confident Conformists who have missed drinking out over lockdown.”

3 The hesitant quarter

With many people in these four groups back in the on-trade and reassured about safety, we now need to convince other consumer segments to follow. CGA’s research in June pointed to a near-quarter (22%) chunk of the population who plan to return to restaurants, pubs and bars within the first couple of months rather than weeks—and it is this wave that the sector needs to win back next.

Key segments here include Comfortable Sceptics, Carefree Dolce Vitas, Cost Conscious Champions and Family Pit Stoppers. Since the first two groups contain many older consumers, the risk of infection is going to be a major concern, so emphasising messages around ultra-high levels of hygiene will be essential. For the latter two groups, price may be an issue too, especially among those who have been furloughed or made redundant during lockdown. The government’s Eat Out to Help Out initiative in August could well be a useful trigger here, with well over half (56%) of Family Pit Stoppers suggesting they will make use of the scheme.

The sector has made a great start in convincing consumers that it can keep them safe,” says Charlie Mitchell. “Word of mouth will hopefully help that message to filter down to more anxious consumer groups too, and pubs, bars and restaurants will be relentlessly reinforcing and communicating their hygiene precautions. For operators who can deliver that reassurance while demonstrating to guests that they can still have a high quality, good value experience, there is the opportunity to accelerate the pace along the road to recovery.”


CGA’s exclusive MATCH segmentation tool provides many more crucial insights into consumers’ fast-changing behaviour and priorities as the out-of-home sector returns. To learn more, click here or contact CGA’s Research & Insights Director Charlie Mitchell at

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