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Millennials’ & Gen Z’s 10 Favorite Brands To Follow On Social Media

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

With social media topping the charts as the best way for brands to reach young consumers, we asked Millennials and Gen Z to tell us who they follow…

A strong social media strategy can make or break a brand today. Instagrammable social media posts are currency in the world of young consumers, who are swayed to engage by the most like-worthy shots. Where they go, what they buy, even what they eat and drink can be directly influenced by their longing to up their ‘gram game (ahem, over-the-top Black Tap milkshakes). On top of that, influencer marketing is no longer a fledgling experiment; it’s the way young consumers are finding their next favorite products and brands. Over half of 13-35-year-olds say that they like it when brands create things designed to be shared on social media, and almost half say they’re more likely to consider buying a product their favorite online celebrity recommends.

But it’s more than the power of persuasion that’s driving the success of brands’ social media efforts. Young consumers today are in search of brands they can relate to and stand by, and the right Instagram campaign or partnership can show Millennials and Gen Z what a brand stands for. This method has brought younger brands to credit social media for their success. Just think back to the rise of La Croix, Outdoor Voices, and The Ordinary–to name a few–all of whom capitalized on Millennials’ and Gen Z’s proclivity for minimalist aesthetics and relatable narratives. Plus, social media is simply how 13-35-year-olds communicate these days. In fact, 81% of Bustle, Romper, and Elite Daily’s Millennial readers say social media is the best way for advertisers to reach them, and a Bustle questionnaire also found that 40% of their 18-34-year-old readers prefer Instagram for brand communications. To help us understand what social strategies are working for young consumers, we asked them, “What brand do you follow on social media?” Here are their top ten answers:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of brands Millennials and Gen Z follow on social media—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The lists are ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What Brands Do They Follow On Social Media?


  1. Nike

  2. Adidas

  3. Apple

  4. Target

  5. Samsung

  6. Puma

  7. Amazon

  8. Chanel

  9. Google

  10. Starbucks

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that–after Nike–the majority of respondents couldn’t name a single brand they follow on social media. Millennials and Gen Z have a reputation for not caring much about brands, and have been deemed Loyal-ish: they’ll stick to brands, but you have to do just the right things to keep them coming back.

One brand that has no problem getting Millennials and Gen Z to come back is Nike. The brand has topped Millennials’ and Gen Z’s favorite fashion brands’ list for multiple years running, as well as the list of non-tech brands Millennials find the most innovative. It also made the list of brands both young men and women say understand them best, and that is largely due to their stellar social media presence. Nike knows how to engage Millennials and Gen Z on social media, with inspiring storytelling that leverages The Influencer Effect to up their massive following. By featuring a healthy mix of professional athletes and everyday athletes, followers feel they too can be a part of the culture Nike is creating.

While Nike and Adidas were the top two brands among males, Gen Z, and Millennials (and top 5 for Females), we did see some differences between these group rankings:

While Forever 21 has always been popular with young consumers, the brand is staying fresh with their new beauty brand, Riley Rose, which is specifically targeting the Instagram generation with cult brands and high-tech, in-store experiences. Clearly, this–and the brand’s other social strategies–are working particularly well with teens: Forever 21 is the third most-followed brand among 13-17-year-olds (and way down the list for Millennials), with one 17-year-old female telling us simply, “I love them.”

Gen Z is also showing their philanthropic side with their fourth most-followed brand: Pura Vida, a bracelet company that works directly with artisans in Costa Rica. The proceeds from the bracelets not only directly the support hundreds of artisans, the company has also partnered with over 174 charities around the world to donate more than $1,440,822 to causes they believe in. One 17-year-old female told us, “I like their message and their products,” and a 15-year-old female said, “Their reason for selling bracelets is super cool and their products are pretty.” The brand’s Instagram is full of minimalistic beach shots and influencer partnerships, giving their charitable appeal a boost with mega Instagramability.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here