This article originally appeared in The Drum.

Simplicity is the baseline for the modern consumer experience, and the last two years have thrown that fact into sharp relief. Given the complexity of this current era – due to a pandemic, climate crisis, and political and social strife – many people feel that the path forward is increasingly unclear. Furthermore, they appear to have lost trust in political institutions and the media. In response, people have placed their trust in brands, particularly brands that are easy to understand; transparent and honest; caring for and meeting their needs; innovative and fresh; and useful. In short, brands that are simple.

Simplicity is a defining characteristic of brands that lead the market. Year after year, our hallmark World’s Simplest Brands study has shown this to be true. This year was no different.

In its ninth edition, our study ranks the leading brands on simplicity, asking more than 15,000 people across nine countries which brands and industries provide the simplest experiences, ultimately reducing stress and improving consumers’ lives everywhere.

Google led the global rankings, followed by Netflix, German grocer Lidl, YouTube and another German grocer, Aldi. In the United States, Amazon was named the simplest brand, followed by streaming services Hulu and Netflix. Costco and Google rounded out the top five.

What do these brands have in common? Radical simplicity is the origin, process and goal of every user interaction. And these brands provided it during the pandemic, at a time when consumers needed simplicity the most.

Consumers want simple brands – and say so with their wallets

Unsurprisingly, the brands that consumers feel most favorably toward help them eliminate unnecessarily complex experiences from their lives. Our study found that 76% of consumers were more likely to recommend a brand that delivers simple experiences, compared to 64% in the eighth edition of our study.

And not only did 57% of consumers say they would pay a premium for simpler interactions with brands, but the amount they would pay for simplicity rose from our previous study – four times as much, in fact.

Brands gain an exceptional marketplace opportunity by simplifying their business models to focus on user experience. The proof? Since 2009, a stock portfolio composed of the publicly traded simplest brands in our Global Top 10 has consistently outperformed the major indexes, showing an aggregate growth rate of 1,841%.

Radical simplicity: A $402bn missed opportunity

Although the ongoing global health crisis has caused many leading brands to increase their focus on customer experience with a new urgency, other large companies have failed to enact the kind of rapid changes that would improve customer experience universally.