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Gen Z Females Say These 15 Brands Express Who They Are

Our brand tracker reveals the top brands that young Gen Z females say help express who they are (and how they’re different from Millennials’ choices)…

From the brands that young consumers think are most innovative, to those they think are hot right now, we’re constantly keeping our eye on Gen Z and Millennials’ top-ranking brand choices. YPulse’s continuous brand tracker asks young consumers to assess brands across four categories: Personality, Relevance, Influence, and Momentum. Questions about whether a brand is trustworthy, supports causes, is recommended to others, and has a bright future are specific examples of the 16 core diagnostics we developed to determine a brands’ success among young consumers. We also ask, “Which of the following helps you EXPRESS WHO YOU ARE?” This diagnostic measure is especially revealing in showing the brands that young consumers feel a close relationship with. If you view a brand as part of how you express of who you are, that brand is a symbol of how you want to be perceived, or even a representation of your values in some way. The top two ranking brands among all young consumers, which we reported on in our recent YPulse Brand Report, are also the top two brands they say help express who they are.

But of course, these brands change depending on what young consumer group we’re looking at. Today we’re looking at a group highly desired by brands: Gen Z females. Incredibly savvy and connected, these young female shoppers are quick to organize around what they love (look at their fandoms), create opportunities for themselves (look at all those teen-run Tea accounts), and they’re tastemakers on the rise. But what brands have the potential to rise with them? We checked in on the top 15 brands in our tracker that they say help express who they are:

Brands That Express Who They Are
13-17-year-old females
      1. Snapchat
      2. Instagram
      3. YouTube
      4. PINK
      5. Forever 21
      6. Converse
      7. Hot Topic
      8. Vans
      9. Sour Patch Kids
      10. Starbucks
      11. Nike
      12. Facebook
      13. Pinterest
      14. Bath & Body Works
      15. Doritos

The YPulse Brand Tracker measures young consumers’ relationships with a brand based on a weighted six-point scale, ranging from “Never heard of this brand” to “This brand is one of my favorites.” As part of the “Brand Relevance” metric, we also ask respondents “Which of the following helps you EXPRESS WHO YOU ARE?” These are the top brands that were rated “help express who you are,” among those who are aware of the brand. The brands on this list are among the over 400 brands included in the brand tracker as of 6/12/19. Rankings are subject to change as more brands are added and removed. 

It’s incredibly telling that the first two brands on the ranking of those that Gen Z females say help express who they are, are social media platforms. Not only do these young consumers likely feel a deep affinity for the platforms they’re spending so much time on (more time than their male peers), but these are also the places that they are literally expressing themselves. The fact that Snapchat outranks Instagram for this group might surprise some, though we’ve said for some time that teens haven’t abandoned the platform. Our most recent social media monitor actually shows that more Gen Z females are using Instagram daily, but it’s here we see that they might feel they express themselves more on Snapchat. Snapchat may also play a bigger role in their friendships, with more private, authentic messaging, and Snapchat Streaks to represent their closest relationships.

Beyond digital platforms, the list of brands that help them express who they are is filled with retailers, with PINK, Forever21, Converse, Hot Topic, and Vans all ranking in the top 10. Interestingly, though Nike scores well with this group in other metrics—and it’s still in their top 15 here—it’s not in its usual place at the top of the list. This indicates that these other retailers are providing more products that Gen Z females feel represent their personalities, and what they want to show to the world.

But how do these brands compare among other age groups of young females? We took a look to find out:

While social platforms also rank at the top of the lists for 18-24-year-old and 25-35-year-old females, the age differences are clear. Facebook and Pinterest don’t make the top 10 among Gen Z, but rise to the top of the list among older Millennial females. There are also clear differences in the fashion brands that these groups feel help express who they are. Forever 21 drops out of the top ranking among the 25-36-year-old female group (21 is in their name after all), and Victoria’s Secret is missing from Gen Z females’ top list, but appears as the 10th brand among 18-24-year-old females, and the 7th among 25-36-year-olds, indicating that they might have some catch-up work to do with the next generation. The same pattern occurs for Target and Amazon, which rise in the rankings the older the consumer group gets.

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