Until recently, the 5:2 phenomenon has only been applied to food intake, but this so-called ‘binge-purge’ way of thinking could soon influence purchasing in a big way.

In 2014, 52% of Britons, the equivalent to 26 million people are expected to 5:2 their lives, according to new research by trend forecasting, consumer insight and innovation consultancy, The Future Laboratory.

The 5:2 methodology, which came into prominence after documentary Eat, Fast and Live Longer was aired, dictates that participants seriously restrict calorie intake for two non-consecutive days a week and eat normally for the other five days.

Fast forward to the present day and consumers are using it as a way to save money, with 60% of those polled in the research saying that they are being frugal for five days in order to fuel two days of more lavish spending.

Brands now need element of surprise

While this fad is making 49% of respondents feel that their goals are more achievable, Chris Sanderson, CEO of The Future Laboratory, says it is also going to affect how consumers and advertisers interact.

“The 5:2 trend, which we call ‘The Polarity Paradox’, has caused a significant shift in consumer behaviour over the past 12 months,” Sanderson said.

“Abstinence and indulgence has become the new model of self-restraint and this is changing the relationship between people and brands.”

“Consumers now expect brands to challenge and surprise them, so brand managers need to ensure they are tapping into peer-to-peer networks too if they want to connect with this new consumer mindset.”

Brits are also applying the 5:2 concept to other areas of their lives such as 60% choosing to improve relationships by dining with family, friends or partner twice a week.