Fastest-growing brands 2021: Top brands by generation

Morning Consult has released its report on the fastest-growing brands for 2021, and in many ways, the list was unsurprising. In the thick of pandemic year two, vaccine brands Pfizer and Moderna saw a boost, as well as a few of the now-plentiful at-home streaming subscriptions from big Hollywood moviemakers. Social media and snack foods, a perfect combo for days (or months) spent lazing around the house, were popular as ever. And cryptocurrency, the digital age’s astonishing smash hit among hyper-techies, investor junkies, get-rich-quick schemers and future dreamers, soared up the ranks.

But as always, there were a few unexpected showings. For one, the top streaming service was not industry giants Netflix or Hulu, nor was it plucky competitor Disney+, which quadrupled its customers to nearly 100 million by the end of 2020—rather, it was, um, Paramount+. Launched earlier this year, Paramount+ includes a library of CBS shows and sports broadcasts, as well as partnerships with MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central; naturally, it also offers all the blockbuster films from the Paramount Pictures studio. It was the number one fastest-growing brand for 2021 among all adults overall, and for the Gen Z and Millennial cohorts specifically. However, Gen X and Baby Boomers favored its competitor HBO Max, which ranked third overall.

Also curious: The online empire of Internet culture, Reddit, gained ground with both Millennials—the oldest of whom are now grazing middle age—and, strangely, Baby Boomers, the youngest of whom are inching toward retirement. Reddit—which consistently lands among the top websites in the world, with over a hundred thousand active sub-communities and over 400 million active monthly users—was the second fastest-growing brand for both demographics.

Similarly, TikTok, the massive video-sharing platform owned by Chinese Internet behemoth ByteDance and flooded with random teenagers mimicking viral dance moves, is climbing among older generations. It was third for Millennials, fourth for Gen X, and 15th for Boomers. It was fifth for all adults overall, but didn’t crack the top twenty for Gen Z, probably because they discovered it years ago.

Also among the top brands for all adults was Toyota, the first-ever auto manufacturer to make the list at number 19. An industry analyst told Morning Consult that was likely because the Japanese brand weathered the global semiconductor chip shortage better than others and currently has more stock, thanks to resiliency efforts after the country’s devastating earthquake and tsunami a decade ago.

But from a bird’s eye view, the crop of brands is very much a sign of the times. “Buy Now, Pay Later” companies Afterpay and Affirm made the lists, representing a growing trend in deferred purchasing. Coinbase and Bitcoin ranked high, furthering the decentralized finance revolution. Finances in general were of interest, actually, for increasingly money-savvy shoppers, with a host of credit cards, Venmo, and Credit Karma rising in prominence. And for the aging Gen X and Baby Boomers, IcyHot and Tylenol were top five.

Check out Morning Consult’s full report here.