Over a third of young Europeans say they’re part of a brand fandom. Here are the top 15 brands they’re turning to for community…
In our recent Clicking on Community trend report, we explored the role of community in young European’s lives, diving into their sources of support and guidance. While Gen Z and Millennials have long been criticized for their disconnection and isolation from the “real world” (which was exacerbated by the pandemic), our research found that nearly nine in 10 Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe feel connected and supported by their communities. In fact, 73% believe having a community is necessary to be healthy. But for these generations, community is not limited to the people they know in person. Over half of 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe say they find community online, and 33% say they’ve made close friends because of an online group they’re a part of, highlighting the fact that their screentime doesn’t always lead to disconnection.
While they’re largely forming online groups around shared interests—including video games, hobbies, and music—Gen Z and Millennials are increasingly building community around brands, too, presenting a massive opportunity to leverage the growing power of fandoms. Over a third of young Europeans say they’re a fan of a brand and part of their community, and 64% of 13-39-year-olds that are part of a brand community have purchased something because of the community that they’re a part of, showing the huge potential of brand fandoms.
But brand communities don’t form on their own, and young consumers are wary of brands that try too hard—and don’t add value to their lives. The key to building fandoms is to make young fans feel connected to something bigger than themselves. But what brands are doing this right? In our recent trend survey, we asked 13-39-year-olds on Western Europe, “Is there a brand you consider yourself a fan of and part of their community?” Here are the top 15 brands young Europeans they mentioned:
Top Brands They Feel A Part of a Community For
- Harry Potter
- Victoria’s Secret
- Star Wars
Before we dive in, we should note that we pulled a few of the top mentions off of this list: football (i.e. soccer) teams. Football is still a major cultural connector in Europe, despite moves away from IRL sports and towards the virtual variety in many parts of the world. In fact, when we asked young Europeans where they’re finding connection outside of friends and family, sports teams and communities was their number-two answer. While the power of these fandoms can’t be denied, we’re focusing here on the communities surrounding brands, not sports teams.
Nike has topped many a brand list among Gen Z and Millennials in the U.S. for almost as long as we can remember, most recently claiming the accolade of “coolest fashion brand” (yet again). While young consumers cite the brand’s comfort and inclusion as major reasons that they like it, Nike has also continued to build successful campaigns and social media strategies that engage Gen Z and Millennials, and make them feel a part of something big. Clearly, this has worked outside of the U.S., too: Nike is by far the top brand young Europeans say they are fans of or part of its community, and it’s also their top fashion brand, according to our brand tracker.
Other brands that consistently perform well in the U.S. also top the list in Western Europe, including Adidas, Marvel, Disney, and—of course—Amazon. But let’s focus in on number four: Shein. YPulse has been tracking the meteoric rise of the Chinese online-only retailer, which has fast become a go-to for young shoppers around the globe, winning over Gen Z shoppers with affordable fits that are constantly evolving to follow fashion trends. YPulse’s latest fashion and style research found that Shein is one of U.S. young consumers’ top 3 favorite places to buy clothing. And in March of this year, Shein did the almost-unthinkable: it overtook Amazon as the most downloaded shopping app globally. The last year of digital shopping acceleration has undoubtedly helped the popularity boom. And while $5 crop tops and $15 dresses are certainly a huge draw for young shoppers, one of the main reasons they keep coming back to Shein is the online retailer’s (incredibly fast) ability to keep up with today’s fashion trends—and shopping trends. Shein’s product pages are constantly updating to reflect young peoples’ favorite styles, and the apparel company leverages China’s well-developed garment manufacturing and efficient logistics system in order to ship to customers worldwide at a low cost. The retailer is also constantly adding new features to its website and app, including videos on product pages, sorting features for flash sales, and clothing categories organized by fashion trends. All of this is responsible for Shein’s ability to stay relevant with young consumers who are looking for affordable and trendy apparel—and for the brand’s impressive growing fandom.
When we break down the top five brands young Europeans are building communities around, though, we can see that Shein is a particular favorite of Gen Z:
While Gen Z and Millennials are matched in their top three brand brandoms/fandoms, Millennials (yet again) opt for nostalgia, while the younger generation turns toward their fast fashion favorites—and, of course, BTS, the massively popular Korean boy band that has long touted a Next Level Fandom. Known as the BTS Army, the group’s fans have a global reach and an “unrivaled level of organization” that proves just how powerful fandoms can be—and how important they can be to young consumers’ sense of community.
YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full Clicking on Community trend report and data here.
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