More than half of Brits are 'uncomfortable' touching card readers and using public toilets, according to Sagentia

More than half of Brits are 'uncomfortable' touching card readers and using public toilets, according to Sagentia

PR Newswire

CAMBRIDGE, England, Dec. 11, 2020

CAMBRIDGE, England, Dec. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Hygiene concerns related to Covid-19 have left 58% of the GB population uncomfortable using public devices such as card readers, with 54% feeling the same way about public toilets.

These findings come from a survey of 2,160 adults conducted by Sagentia, a science, product and technology development company. The research aimed to discover how people's attitudes, behaviours and priorities have changed, to establish how industry can adapt and innovate to maximise consumer trust.

Alongside the consumer research, Sagentia ran an industry study asking businesses how they would respond to consumer behavioural change. Of those surveyed, 73% expect changes prompted by Covid-19 to influence R&D priorities. Almost half anticipate innovation in areas such as chemicals and materials science, for instance to develop antiviral coatings. Almost a third (32%) expect advancements in mechanical or physical technologies to improve hygiene, with 20% saying this is likely to involve energy or light-based sanitisation.

Paul Wilkins, MD, R&D Consultancy at Sagentia comments: "as businesses respond to heightened concerns surrounding hygiene, we can expect to see new products, new public devices and entirely new business models emerge.

"Many new ideas will be based on the need to minimise contamination risk or reduce contact with others. As a science-based innovation consultancy, we help businesses create solutions to meet changing customer needs. So, understanding exactly what consumers care about, or feel concerned about, is crucial."

Sagentia is a global science, product and technology development company, and part of Science Group plc. More information is available at

Note to editors

The consumer study also found that 80% of Brits are paying more attention to handwashing and cleanliness. Of these, 70% say it's because they can't be sure other people share their hygiene standards.

However, most people feel a high level of personal responsibility. Among those whose behaviour has changed, 71% say it's because they want to reduce their risk of infecting other people and 65% want to do everything they can to protect their family. Just over half (54%) say they have made changes because they want to follow the recommended government guidelines. 

The findings also reveal that Covid-19 has made many people more aware of the role science can play in informing decisions about the products they buy. This was true for a quarter of the general population (25%), whereas two in five (43%) said they were fully aware before the pandemic. 

Attitudes towards work, shopping and leisure activities were covered by the research too. It found that 31% of people feel uncomfortable going into a shared workspace or office, 35% feel uncomfortable eating in a fast food restaurant or café and 33% are uncomfortable about taking part in a group class at the gym.

Some respondents (11%) indicated that using extra packaging on products would be reassuring. However, 47% said they worry that there has been an increase in single-use plastic due to Covid-19 and 40% worry that the topic of climate change has taken a back seat.     

Consumer study figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,160 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th - 6th October 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About Sagentia

Sagentia is a global science, product and technology development company. Our mission is to help companies maximise the value of their investments in R&D. We partner with clients in the medical, consumer, industrial and food & beverage sectors to help them understand the technology and market landscape, decide their future strategy, solve the complex science and technology challenges and deliver commercially successful products. Sagentia employs over 150 scientists, engineers and market experts and is a Science Group company. Science Group provides independent advisory and leading-edge product development services focused on science and technology initiatives. It has ten offices globally, two UK-based dedicated R&D innovation centres and more than 400 employees.

For further information visit us at: or email

About Science Group plc

Science Group plc (AIM:SAG) is a science-led advisory and product development organisation. The Group has three divisions:

With more than 400 employees worldwide, primarily scientists and engineers and speaking more than 30 languages collectively, the Group has R&D centres in Cambridge and Epsom with more than ten additional offices in Europe, Asia and North America. 

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