Gen Z & Millennials Think These 7 Brands Are Cooler Than Apple

Our youth brand tracker reveals 15 of the coolest brands right now, according to Gen Z and Millennials…

Earlier this year, Under Armour came under fire from shareholders for allegedly committing a fatal brand sin: becoming uncool. The brand had to defend itself against the accusations that young consumers no longer saw it as cool and innovative, and though we found that Gen Z and Millennials weren’t abandoning the athletic wear giant, the rumors cast a dark cloud over their future prospects.

Such is the power of coolness—especially in the world of youth brands. Brands across industries are constantly chasing the concept, trying to infuse their products and personas with coolness by tapping into the latest trends, and battling to be considered the coolest one in the room. It’s an elusive competition—and the real winners right now might surprise you. Apple has long been considered the pinnacle of cool brands, with young consumers clamoring for their products and proud to be considered Apple users. But are they the coolest brand in the eyes of young consumers?

Our youth brand tracker Ybrands, which launched in January of this year, has collected over 51,000 interviews that tell us how young consumers feel about more than 300 brands. We’ve previously looked at their favorite food brands, personal care brands, and the clothing brands they think are the coolest—but how do brands across various industries stack up against one another in terms of coolness? We looked at the most recent data to see who Gen Z and Millennial consumers think are most cool, right now:

*Ybrands 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 Ybrands’ “Brand Personality” metric, we also ask respondents “Which of the following are cool?” These are the top brands that were rated “cool,” among those who are aware of the brand. The brands on this list are among the 271 brands included in the brand tracker as of 10/9. Rankings are subject to change as more brands are added and removed. 

Though Apple consistently ranks as a top favorite brand among young consumers, and actually ranks as the top innovative brand among 13-36-year-olds according to Ybrands data, there are actually seven brands that are considered more cool right now: Nike, Netflix, YouTube, Snapchat, Doritos, Jordan, and Instagram. Nike is at the top of the coolest brand list. They also took the crown in the coolest clothing brand ranking earlier this year, and made the top of our list of logos that young consumers would actually want to wear—but their place on the top of this list shows that their clout beats out even hot brands in other categories. Interestingly though, Nike’s cool score isn’t the highest among all age groups:

Nike ranks as the top cool brand among 18-36-year-olds, but among 13-17-year-olds it drops to number three. Instead Axe reigns as the top cool brand among teens, followed by YouTube. Even more interestingly, Apple doesn’t make the top ten amongst this group.

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “I like playing and talking about [Animal Crossing] with other people. It's nostalgic for me since I've been playing games from the series from a young age.”—Female, 22, PA

Which brands had the most YouTube subscribers in 2018? In media, Warner Bros. topped the list with 6.4 million subscribers, followed by BBC and ESPN. Apple beat out last year’s winner for tech PlayStation, while Red Bull and Ford remained the reigning champs of food and beverage and automotive, respectively. Finally, Nike was first place in the clothing category for the second year running, with 30,000 more subscribers than their closest competitor, Adidas. (Tubefilter)

A “Little League for esports” is fostering future esports stars—and fans for life. Super League Gaming is bringing some much-needed organization to youth competitive gaming, building teams of young Minecraft, League of Legends, and Clash Royal players, helping them train and compete. But the program isn’t just for the next Ninja; just like traditional sports, kids get a sense of community among like-minded friends. (AP News)

Nielsen reports that Millennials actually consume less media than older demos, but more of it is digital. While the average adult consumes over ten hours of content a day, 18-34-year-olds spend less than eight hours with media. And the heaviest smartphone users are 35-49-year-olds, who spend 20 minutes more each day on average with their phones than Millennials. However, the younger demo does spend 44% of their media time with digital devices, more than older demos that spend more time with TV as they age up. (THR)

Vitaminwater is wagering $100,000 that you can’t give up your smartphone for a year. Contestants have to disconnect from internet-enabled devices where “texting is a pleasant experience” for 365 days and post a pic to Twitter or Instagram explaining why they need the digital detox. And when the year’s up, they have to prove it. Considering that 65% of 13-36-year-olds told Ypulse they would be unable to unplug from their smartphones for a week, earning that $100,000 may be harder than they know. (Fortune)

Hard seltzer revenue skyrocketed over 400% over the past 18 months. White Claw leads the way for the category with top-of-the-results organic search (they’re the number one Google result for “hard seltzer”) and a social media presence that focuses on health and wellness-related imagery. Sparkling water is already one of Millennials’ favorite things to drink, and its hard version could rise through the ranks of their top alcoholic beverages. (Gartner)

Quote of the Day: “People call [video game culture] nerdy but I see nerdy as a positive connotation.”—Female, 28, MA

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