Consumer Spending Habits in the UK

Anna Raventós

Budget management apps are (already) the next big thing

Zinklar’s Trend Report on Consumer Spending Habits UK gave us a lot to think about: from how we spend our money to the strategies we adopt to spend less, consumers are conscious of the future and plan ahead for rainy days. We have two takeaways from our report that got us thinking about consumer spending habits, and we’re sharing them with you. There are plenty more insights and data in our infographic, which you can download below:


The internet is rife with lists of the top 10 budget management apps, so we can’t say we’re surprised. In fact, a quick google highlights just how abundant these apps are: Mint, Splitwise, YouNeedABudget (YNAB, for the initiated), etc. Our study reflects this trend. In the UK, 25% of consumers always use a budget management app, and 60% of consumers use them with some frequency. We can confidently say that a majority of UK consumers manage their money and create budgets digitally. And this number goes up the younger the consumer, as 40% of those under 24 always use budget management apps.

Challenger banks such as Monzo and Revolut have taken note of this trend, and the last couple of years record an exponential increase in the popularity of disruptive digital banks. Consumers have eagerly welcomed them. App-based online banking that’s easy to sign up for, doesn’t make money management fussy, and limits fees and hidden account expenses is a sought and valuable service.

inflation report

Monzo’s marketing, or lack thereof, is also worth recognition. They had a simple, less is more strategy that counted on word of mouth. Thanks to a golden ticket system and the hard-to-miss, neon-coral card, its notoriety spread like wildfire. They conveniently managed the “hype” they created Currently, they continue to add 100,000 customers per month to their service (Marketing Week).

We’re watching a shake-down of the banking industry’s customer service, in real-time. Traditional banks are unexpectedly facing fierce competition from challengers that were able to recognize consumers’ needs before the industry could. It’s a true testament to the power of market research, which allowed for a sleek recognition, disruption, and occupation of an age-old market.

The UK market has matured quickly in the last few years: neon Monzo cards or discrete blue Revoluts are a staple of many wallets. Increasingly, we’re hoping banks will rise up to the challenge and offer more innovative banking solutions to consumers. A market to keep an eye on, as it continues to grow and evolve in the face of new players.

“The good old times”: consumers feel like they’re not managing to save as much as before.

At present, consumers are prudent spenders

Even when we get a salary raise, half of us would usually prefer to increase our savings rather than immediately splurging on a whim. When consumers get a raise, 37% will contribute towards their mortgage or household expenses, while half increase their monthly savings.

Why such caution? 4 out of 10 consumers are either saving less money, have never saved, or are struggling to reach the end of the month. Only 2 in 10 consumers feel like they’re saving more than before. The RSA´s 2018 findings echo our own. Nearly one-third (and sometimes 40%) of people lack confidence in their ability to support themselves in the future and “maintain a decent quality of life”. Precarity in the UK has inched upwards in the years after the 2007 crisis, and changes in the nature of employment contracts mean that workers enjoy fewer rights, are more easily employed, and are just as easily fired. The prevalence of zero-hour contracts, temp contracts, virtual employers, and the gig economy have put on pressure consumers to set aside money for rainier days. So, how far does precarity affect people in the UK? And how does it impact consumer spending habits? 1 of 10 people won’t have saved in their lifetime, and 1 of 10 people struggle to reach the end of the month. A sobering thought.

So what should companies do in light of this prudent mood in the consumer market? For one, we think taking Monzo and other disruptive banks’ examples is a good idea. Consumers still want to have fun, and entertainment activities as well as eating out continues to be an important part of consumers’ lives. For example, 1 in 3 consumers would spend a pay rise of 10% on going out to venues, restaurants, or events.


Now more than ever, it’s essential to be Customer Centric

There’s some bad news and some good news about consumer spending habits in the UK. In light of our data, we propose companies reconsider their services, products, and marketing strategies to be more consumer-centric. By creating a service that responds to consumers’ needs and habits, streamlining campaigns, and making a product or service easier to access, they’ll be able to ensure that even in harsher times, they become a staple of consumers’ expenses.

Check out our report for more in-depth, visualized insights on consumer spending habits in the UK. Also, you can check how COVID-19 has impacted UK consumer habits.

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