Comfort food.

In past newsletters, we’ve spent time theorizing about the mind of the COVID-19-era consumer, and cataloguing strategies marketers can use to relate to them without feeling craven or thirsty. People are in need of comfort, assurance, and often, direct advice about how to deal with the issues they are encountering in our worldwide dystopia. But who is actually winning in this fight for troubled hearts and minds? 

new study from Morning Consult— with results pulled from 150,000 subjects across the United States — ranks the most beloved brands by consumers in the coronavirus era. Unsurprisingly, there’s been a surge in popularity for new-school corporations who help people facilitate their practical needs for product delivery and virtual communication. Zoom and Instacart are among the top biggest gainers this summer, and Amazon (proud LHC client!) came in at #4. Tiktok is in there too, and SpaceX—presumably a hit among those who, reasonably enough, are desperate to get off of this planet as soon as they can.

But perhaps the most revelatory (and kinda charming) fact is that, overall, old-school CPG companies are dominating the game -- making up almost half of the top 50. You might not be surprised that an essential cleaning product came in at #6 (Clorox) but M&Ms at #8 —o ut of 1,900 possible brands — might seem to be out of left field. Is it that surprising though? When it comes to things to stress-snack on, it’s logical to reach for the world’s most classic, time-tested, and readily available brands. Respect to Cheerios also, all the way up at #11, and Doritos (#29) for beating out Lays as the top chip brand.

If you want more evidence that the most accessible and recognizable CPGs winning hearts and minds, the 2020 Axios Harris Poll—which ranks the top 100 brands for corporate reputation —bears out similar results. Here, Clorox is all the way at #1 and Hershey up at #2, illustrating that this country needs chocolate more than most foods. (Doritos, sadly, are nowhere to be found -- possibly invalidating this entire study.) 

Specifics aside, whichever way you slice it, the statistics serve as a revealing psychological survey of our nation of consumers—evidence of our inherent vulnerability and need for control variables. Even if your company doesn’t have a centuries-old legacy or have a monopoly on a specific market, this should be an important lesson on the value of branding: being a friendly face goes a long way in a crisis.