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The pandemic has touched every facet of our lives, forcing us to adapt how we shop, socialize, communicate and work. As you would expect, this has had a fundamental impact on Opinium’s Most Connected Brands Index, coloring and shaping the fortunes of entire sectors.

Changing how we work and where we work

Arguably, the most influential change the pandemic has brought has been to our working lives. As our freedoms have been stripped away by the pandemic, it is somewhat ironic that we have never had greater freedom to determine our working patterns and routines.

The requirement for non-essential workers to forgo their daily commutes and embrace virtual working has meant that the tools required to support this have therefore never been as important nor as high profile. This has led to a marked increase in the rankings for technology providers.

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A health and wellness bug alongside a nation comfort eating

A second trend has been the explosion in health and wellbeing as people found themselves anchored to their local areas with physical exercise one of the few pastimes available to them. This has led to brands like Nike and Fitbit surging up the rankings. Ironically, confectionery brands have also benefited from the pandemic with a nation eager for a slice of happiness and distraction that can be bought over the counter.

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A nation desperate for entertainment, escapism and distraction

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic and associated lockdowns have seen the entertainment sector thrive. Whilst it’s easy to think that people have been living on a diet of Netflix boxsets, it isn’t just streaming companies who have benefited. Brands such as Waterstones and the National Trust have powered up the rankings as consumers seek to escape the confines of their living spaces and look for screen-free sources of entertainment.

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Signaling the death of the high street – or just ‘non-essential’ shops?

For retail, the term non-essential has become the difference between a thriving business, and unemployment and store closures. Brands that were less affected by restrictions such as M&S and Boots have proven far more resilient than those deemed non-essential, with retailers like Primark and New Look facing an existential crisis as the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online shopping.

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Forcing people off public transport, with a greater environmental awareness

One positive consequence of the first lockdown in March was the environmental impact. With daily commutes abandoned and travel restricted, air quality dramatically improved. Optimism that this would have a lasting effect on our relationship with the planet, though, was quickly checked when the first lockdown finished.

The public’s concerns over the safety of public transport coupled with the desire to escape their local areas meant car manufacturers surge up this year’s rankings. Sustainability has not been banished from consumers consciousness, however, with brands such as Tesla entering the MCB Top 100 for the first time.

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Opinium’s Most Connected Brands Index UK 2021 is out now. You can download the full report here.

Wez Eathorne is research director at Opinium.