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.

To download a PDF version of this insight article, click here

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “I actively avoid discussions of TV shows.”—Male, 31, MI

Networks are launching an onslaught of new streaming services to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu. CBS, Disney, and now Warner Media are hopping on the bandwagon to compete for young cord-cutters' viewing time. The digital switch makes sense, considering 74% of 13-36-year-olds told Ypulse they watch Netflix weekly, versus 33% who watch cable weekly. But one eMarketer analyst predicts this over-saturation in the streaming wars will lead to “a shakeout," in which companies will be weeded out unless they consolidate their offerings. (THR)

Macy’s is putting virtual reality in 90 stores, with the “largest VR rollout in retail history.” Shoppers can don HTC Vive VR headsets to create 3D floor plans, design their living spaces, deck them out with Macy’s furniture, and then take a step inside of the room. The retail tech enables smaller Macy’s stores to offer a lot more inventory to shoppers, and follows in the footsteps of other reality-bending home décor brands. And, according to Macy’s, VR sales were 60% higher than regular sales in their three pilot stores. (MediaPost)

Prada is plotting a comeback among young consumers. They’ve been slow to adapt to digital, but now the luxury company is emphasizing Instagram and aiming to grow their online sales, which were just 5% in early 2018. While investors applaud Prada’s dive into digital, they also believe the brand needs to shutter several stores—not just to increase “profitability” but to create “the illusion of scarcity.” Prada also has to recover from being late to the luxury streetwear game. (Bloomberg)

Some teens are opting for technical school over four-year universities. At Queens Tech, high schoolers are trained to take on non-desk jobs, like being an electrical engineer or working for public transit companies. Earning a high paycheck that isn’t chipped away by student debt is helping to overcome the societal stigma of skipping college. According to one Queens Tech student, “If you’re a construction worker, you may get paid the same as a doctor, but you don’t look as good.” (Vice)

Don't expect to see macho men and swooning women in grooming brands' latest ads. Instead, companies across the industry are toning down the machismo for Millennial & Gen Z males. Some are blurring gender lines, like Dollar Shave Club, whose “Get Ready” spots debunked stereotypes by not just casting straight, cis males. Other brands are betting modern men are more in touch with their emotions, like Gillette, who shared the touching story of a man’s son becoming an NFL linebacker, despite missing one hand.
(Ad Age)

Quote of the Day: “[Zendaya] is such a beautiful human being and I grew up watching her on the Disney Channel.”—Female, 18, TX

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies