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Young Europeans Say These Are Their 15 Favorite American Brands

Jun 30 2022

American culture has infiltrated young Europeans’ lives—and that includes American brands. These are their 15 favorites…


TL;DR

  • Alongside the ubiquitous presence of Nike and Apple, young Europeans list an American car manufacturer as one of their favorite brands
  • Using value-driven strategies and clever campaigns, popular American fast-food brands are also among their favorites
  • Fashion and beauty brands have also won them over with limited edition items, strong social media strategies, and virtual integration

Monday is the 4th of July in the U.S., which doesn’t mean much to young Europeans. But in the year that we’ve been surveying Gen Z and Millennials in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, one thing has become clear: American culture has continued to make its way across the pond and into the lives of young Europeans. Last year, we told you how the American-created holiday Halloween has become a mainstay for young Europeans, and last month we found that prom has become a thing in Western Europe, too. Meanwhile, they’re watching American-made movies and TV shows, following American pop culture, and want to work for American companies.

Beyond holidays, entertainment, and work, we’ve also routinely found that young Europeans’ “top brands” lists are full of—and even topped by—popular American brands, indicating just how much affinity they have for American brands. In fact, our recent WE Local / Global Citizenship survey found that nearly half of young Europeans say American brands are higher quality than brands from other countries, and two in five say they always try to buy American-made products. But among all of these brands they seek out and support, which are their favorites, and why? In our recent survey, we asked young Europeans the open-end question: “What are your favorite American brands?” Here’s are their top 15:

Their Favorite American Brands

Among 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe

  1. Nike
  2. Apple
  3. McDonald’s
  4. Ford
  5. Levi’s
  6. Coca-Cola
  7. Tesla
  8. Burger King
  9. Amazon
  10. Starbucks
  11. Tommy Hilfiger
  12. MAC Cosmetics
  13. Microsoft
  14. Maybelline
  15. NYX Cosmetics

Young Europeans are Ford fans

You likely could’ve predicted that the likes of Nike and Apple would top the list of young Europeans’ favorite American brands; after all, they’re some of the biggest brands in the world, and they’ve made cameos on other top brands lists in previous YPulse surveys. But what might come as more of a surprise is their No. 4 favorite American brand: Ford. For many reasons, American-made cars aren’t big in Europe. But Ford has managed to find its footing in the European market—and even create a community of superfans who form clubs, collect memorabilia, and have the infamous Mustang emblem tattooed on their bodies. In recent years, the car manufacturer has also worked to attract the next generation of drivers. Back in 2018, the brand entered the world of esports marketing by unveiling its Ranger Raptor at Gamescom in Europe, giving gamers a 4D racing simulation experience. The brand has continued to tap gaming: earlier this year, Ford used European gamers to promote safe driving among young people, which is the latest in a long line of initiatives to teach young Europeans safe-driving skills. And in 2021, Ford enlisted the help of its social media followers to design its Puma ST Gold Edition: 275,000 people across Instagram and Twitter voted on various features to create the final limited edition version that Ford released across Europe. In other words, Ford has excelled at reaching young Europeans with interactive marketing, making it one of their top-five favorite American brands.

Nike tops yet another list

Gen Z and Millennials’ love of Nike is nothing new: the sportswear brand has topped many a brand list among Gen Z and Millennials in the U.S. for almost as long as we can remember, including this year’s 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. This has worked outside of the U.S., too: young Europeans say Nike is one of the overall coolest brands, one of the luxury brands they most want to own (despite it not being a luxury brand), the brand they feel the strongest sense of community around, and the brand with the highest YPulse+ score. It’s no surprise then that they list Nike as their favorite American—and by far.

American food & bev brands are among their favorites, too

Fast food may be synonymous with American culture, but we previously found that young Europeans are eating it up, too. When asked to list their favorite fast food joints, American brands dominated the list, with McDonald’s and Burger King taking the top slots. Now, these two fast-food behemoths are among their favorite American brands overall—and with good reason. McDonald’s has spent the past few years figuring out how to win back young consumers’ hearts, and they’ve succeeded by launching campaigns and strategies that align with Gen Z and Millennials’ values. Just recently, for instance, McDonald’s opened its first-ever net-zero emissions branch in the U.K. as part of its mission to become entirely carbon neutral across the world by 2050—and by 2040 in the U.K. and Ireland. But the brand has also leveraged the growing power of food fandoms by launching branded merch, and even opened its first-ever, permanent online shop selling themed merchandise. Meanwhile, the brand has engaged young Europeans with successful activations as well as unique menu items: earlier this year, McDonald’s brought its popular Chicken Big Mac to the U.K. after British consumers pleaded for months, and in France, the brand now sells fish and chips as part of a range of “street food,” which launched alongside a short film and promotional drawing.

Burger King has similarly worked to reach young Europeans, and they’ve done it in part by pumping out quippy campaigns. The latest campaign in Germany, for instance, starred Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Jordan—but not the ones you’re thinking of. In a series of ads promoting its plant-based Whopper, the fast-food chain decided to highlight something else that, like the meatless burger, is also “more often confused with the original”—regular people that have the same names as celebrities. The chain has also steadily grown its meatless menu around the world, opening its first 100% vegetarian restaurant in Spain last year and it’s first 100% vegan restaurant in London, vowing to make its U.K. menu 50% plant-based by 2031.

Young Europeans also favor American fashion and beauty brands

Europe may be the fashion capital of the world, but that doesn’t mean young Euroepans aren’t impressed with American brands, too. Levi’s is their No. 5 favorite American brand, and it is also ranked high on their list of coolest fashion brands. Tommy Hilfiger also made the “cool” list and ranks as their eleventh favorite American brand, an accolade it may have won by getting in early on the metaverse and hosting virtual events and livestreams. Tommy Hilfiger also released a line with Zendaya, upping its cool factor.

Rounding out the list are three beauty brands—MAC Cosmetics, Maybelline, and NYX Cosmetics—all of which have made their way into young consumers’ hearts in various ways. Most recently, MAC’s mascara was the latest “it” product on TikTok, but it’s also dabbled in AR shopping and made its views known by taking part in a campaign to honor Black History Month. Maybelline, meanwhile, has perfected its social media strategy to become a Gen Z and Millennial favorite and recently started a mental health podcast, while NYX has teamed up with young consumer-favorite Netflix to release multiple lines of limited edition, series-inspired makeup lines, and has strengthened ties to the esports community.

In short, many American brands have made strong inroads into young Europeans’ worlds, and now these brands rank among their favorites. And as these gens continue to view themselves as global citizens, the opportunity for more brands from the U.S. (or farther afield) to reach them will continue to grow.

YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full WE Local / Global Citizenship behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Western Europe Business account? Find out more here.

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