Two pharmaceutical companies bubble up among the 20 fastest-growing brands for 2021 in Morning Consult’s report on the Fastest-Growing Brands of 2021.

But the surprise in this year’s top 20 brand rankings was that five of them addressed consumers’ financial flows: Coinbase, AfterPay. Cash App, Mastercard, Chime, and Bitcoin.

One year ago when I covered this study, I found  that the fastest-growing brands of 2020 had everything to do with the pandemic. They dealt with home entertainment, digital connectivity, hygiene, and indeed, health (with Pfizer and AstraZeneca the two pharma brands top-of-mind for consumers).

In this year’s update, exploring consumers’ daily lives in the context of Year 2 of COVID-19, we find a different mix of brand-love with a strong focus on finance, some entertainment, adult beverages, and travel emerging important after months of locking in-and-down.

Morning Consult’s key takeaways were that:

  • 2021 was the year of digital payments, cryptocurrency, and fintechs
  • Vaccine brands “got a boost”
  • At least one streaming service reached every generation — Paramount+ and HBO Max reaching every cohort but Gen Z, based on MC’s data
  • Gen Z remained “hungry” for fast-food, fast-casual restaurants and snacking.

Morning Consult’s brand rankings measure the growth in the share of consumers saying they would consider purchasing one brand over the course of the year, tracking thousands of brands in 2021. The consumer polling compared the brand evaluations from January 1-31st 2021 and October 1-26 2021.

2021 was supposed to be, Morning Consult thought, a “great return to normal.” But the reality for brands was that consumers tended to turn to mature brands they already trusted, with few new-new things breaking through except for digital money brands.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Check out the second graphic here, showing the fastest-growing brands in 2021 for Boomers, the oldest age cohort in the Morning Consult report.

Among Boomers, the fastest-growing brand was Moderna, the top brand growing by 6/8 points between January and October 2021.

Tylenol, the over-the-counter pain medication, was Boomers’ fourth fastest-growing brand, not appearing on any other generation’s list in 2021.

Note other Boomers’ brand-love covers entertainment (HBO Max, 20th Century Studios, Pluto TV, Amazon Fire), social media like Reddit and TikTok (finding new audiences with older people), and alcohol — Smirnoff, Crown Royal, and Vizzy Hard Seltzer 3 in the top 20 for Boomers’ brand growth.

As Morning Consult put it in their report, “Boomers are living their best life,” as along with the adult beverage brands and Indian Motorcycles, older folks will  need “Tylenol, to help recover from using all of the above.”

The AARP recently polled members and gleaned older Americans’ views on brands. In an interview with MediaPost’s Marketing Daily, AARP’s Media Solutions senior director Mark Bradbury talked about marketing to people in the over-70 year old demographic.

Bradbury pointed out that adults 70 and over represent $1.1 trillion in annual spending on consumer goods and services — comprising $1 in $4 of spending among people 50+ years of age on pharmaceuticals, health insurance, medical supplies, food at home, consumer electronics, personal care, apparel, entertainment, household goods and car insurance.

“Adults 70+ came of age in the postwar era — a time defined by a sense of promise and possibility,” Bradbury explained. “As a result, they adopted a sense of empowerment that they could expect more from every stage of life than previous generations had. At this time in history, their expectations are bolstered by access to medical advances and healthier lifestyles that their parents simply didn’t have.”

Bradbury added that older people are also pursuing “passions and purpose,” receptive to brands that help them create the lives they envision.

“They need brands to help them live their best lives….to make them feel like they still matter, that their lives have value.”

As I am curating my TrendCast for 2022 for health+tech+people, I’m absorbing a range of forecasts that are my annual go-to’s for my own clients’ scenario planning work. Right now, I’m marinating in some of the expectations from my friends at TrendWatching. Several of their 2022 call-outs feel particularly relevant to the Boomer-Best-Lives scenario including Solace-as-a-Service, Loneli-Less, Social Express, Altruistic Alliances, Joyning, and Link ‘N Learn.

Here’s an image from TrendWatching on Link ‘N Learn, which feels so right in the moment. An example of this  peer-to-peer network phenomenon launched in India as GetSetUp used by over 4 million people in over 160 nations.

How is your organization addressing peoples’ needs for empowerment, self-realization, and social connection?

These will be important wrap-arounds as the pandemic continues its long, long endemic reality into and through 2022…for Boomers and humans of all ages.