Young Europeans think that brands are “innovative” when they improve on what came before them and have the willingness to try new things, as we learned from YPulse’s Decoding Brand Affinity Report. Innovation is a key factor in keeping young consumers loyal to a brand, and brands that aren’t willing to experiment with new ideas and products risk losing young consumers to brands that are, even if these brands are new to the scene.
YPulse’s brand tracker* monitors European Gen Z and Millennials’ feelings for brands across 20 youth-specific diagnostics like “cool,” “bright future,” and “reflects diversity.” Our brand tracker is available to Pro subscribers, and measures 13-39-year-olds’ affinity for over 750 brands in Western Europe. It also allows us to see which brands are leading among young consumers within industries and specific product categories. Here are the brands European Gen Z and Millennials are most likely to rate as “innovative:”
Apple tops the list as the most innovative brand according to young Europeans
Let’s start at the top: Apple is the brand European Gen Z and Millennials think is the most innovative. And they have good reasons to say so: Apple has made innovation a core element of its identity, and its yearly summit where its CEO goes on stage to talk through the new models is always eagerly awaited and covered in the media. The brand has made constant improvement core to its persona by making every new iteration of its product a spectacle of sorts. Apple’s “innovative” reputation is key to winning Gen Z and Millennials’ loyalty and affinity, and these gens simply can’t have enough of Apple—even updates to their iOS system are going viral among these young consumers,
While Apple’s products are notoriously more expensive than other brands, European Gen Z and Millennials consider Apple’s products high-quality, and long-lasting. YPulse’s Consumers Verbatims dashboard gives us qualitative insight into how young consumers view Apple, which they describe with words like “quality,” “reliable,” and “easy.” We also know that Apple is European 13-39-year-old’s favorite tech brand above Samsung and Sony. In our Tech / Device Usage Report, we asked young Europeans to explain what they liked so much about Apple, and here is how a 27-year-old British male consumer put it: “Although they’re pricey, their innovation is fascinating and their products suit my personality and lifestyle at the moment.” Apple stays on top of innovation by constantly releasing new features and products: it recently launched a new version of their discontinued Apple HomePod, and is expected to release its much-anticipated (and well-rumored) VR headset sometime this year.
Brands in the financial services industry are seen as innovative
Four of the top 10 brands that young Europeans see as the most innovative are related to financial services: PayPal, Apple Pay, Satispay, and Klarna. It’s true that financial services have reached young consumers with the development of mobile apps in the past few years. But what really shook the industry is the buy now, pay later (BNPL) scheme: an installment scheme giving young consumers the ability to spread payments out over time while offering them a lower overall cost than other loan services. Gen Z and Millennials are also turning to pay-in-installment services because they do not need to prove a good credit score to use BNPL, as opposed to using a credit card. YPulse told you that BNPL is booming among consumers in Western Europe, and data from WE Shopping and Retail Report shows that 35% of young Europeans have already used buy now pay later / pay-in-installment services, a +6pts increase from 2021.
BNPL’s development in the region might not be as straightforward as it seems, though. Experts in the industry are pointing out that customers should not be allowed to buy small items and essentials on credit, and have been calling out Deliveroo’s new move to make the BNPL option available to its customers an “irresponsible one.” But despite criticisms, it’s clear that young people are continuing to embrace BNPL. And while regulation may change the industry, our data indicates that Gen Z and Millennials will continue to look for ways to pay less at the moment, while still getting what they want. It’s no coincidence to see Apple Pay among the most innovative brands according to young Europeans: the brand recently introduced Apple Pay Later, Apple’s own BNPL service. Just like Klarna, Apple Pay Later allows its users to pay in segments, under the umbrella of Apple Financing LLC. Although this feature is not yet available for consumers in Western Europe, it shouldn’t be long until European Gen Z and Millennials are able to use the new payment option by the tech giant.
Young Europeans consider EdTech brands as innovative, especially Gen Z
Young Europeans have seen the rise of apps to help them learn things, and it’s no coincidence that EdTech brands can be found in the list of the most innovative brands among young Europeans. Gen Z especially finds that EdTech companies bring innovation, and name three brands in the sector in their top 10: Simple Club (an e-learning German platform), Kahoot!, and Duolingo—who also appears in the list of the top 10 most innovative brands according to Millennials.
EdTech apps and programs are becoming as common as books for young learners, and many platforms have become staples in the classroom. YPulse informed you a while ago that young consumers are self-taught individuals, and the tools provided by EdTech brands are helping them learn the skills they want at home, away from a classroom. As a result, many EdTech brands can also be found among the list of the top overall brands according to European Gen Z. It’s very likely that these brands will continue to become increasingly popular among young consumers with the rise of e-learning in virtual worlds. Data from YPulse’s Where is the Metaverse? Trend Report shows that 30% of European Gen Z think they’ll go to school in virtual worlds in the future, meaning these gens continue to think that education goes hand in hand with innovation.
*The YPulse brand tracker measures young consumers’ relationships with a brand based on a weighted 6-point scale, ranging from “Never heard of this brand” to “This brand is one of my favorites.” As part of the “Brand Personality” metric, we also ask respondents “Which of the following are innovative?” These are the top brands that were rated “innovative,” among those who are aware of the brand. The brands on this list are among the fashion and apparel brands included in the brand tracker as of 5/2023. Rankings are subject to change as brands are added and removed.