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 think we’re already seeing alcohol lose its health halo. Next, the assumption that alcohol is essential to a good, sophisticated life will fade.”—Joy Manning, Deputy Editor, Edible Communities (Medium)

“The doofus dad” TV stereotype is being remade for role-resisting Millennial parents. Inept at care-taking and almost everything else, the tired stereotype is saying its last “D’Oh!” as The Simpson’s Homer Simpson and Peppa Pig’s Daddy Pig get replaced with a new wave of capable fathers like Bluey’s Bandit. The switch could have a real impact on the way kids understand family life, with one research fellow explaining, “The media reflects reality and also constructs reality.” (SMH)

Apple's new subscription gaming service Arcade will cannibalize its own App Store downloads—and that’s a good thing. Downloads in the App Store are on the decline, despite mobile gaming maintaining popularity and raking in revenue. If Apple can turn Arcade into young gamers’ go-to for mobile play, they’ll be poised for success that could outstrip even Apple TV and Apple Music. (The Motley Fool)

Gen Z music artists are “post-genre.” Mixing several influences into one song has become a way for rising artists to set themselves apart, and thanks to self-upload services like SoundCloud, they don’t need music industry exec’s approval. Meanwhile, the Genreless Generation can curate blended playlists via Spotify to fit moods and occasions rather than “rock” or “pop” and are streaming has also globalized their content consumption, so U.S. genres are no longer a limit. (Vice)

Carl’s Jr. has a CBD-infused burger that costs exactly $4.20. The chain restaurant is giving fast food a Cannabis Infusion, but only at one Denver, Colorado location, and only for one day. The Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight packs 5 mg of the chemical that won’t get you high. CBD is the trendy ingredient du jour, with 57% of 18-36-year-olds telling us they’re interested in trying it, and the chemical has made its way into everything from lotion to La Croix-like beverages. (LAT)

Axe is challenging masculinity with “bathsculinity.” The brand has been blurring gender lines for the Genreless Generation for years now, and their latest series of YouTube spots is showing that men can take baths, too. They’ve enlisted comedian Lil Rel Howery, who takes bubble baths surrounded by candles in the humorous videos. And they couldn’t be more on-trend: bath time is seeing a surge as a salve for Millennial anxiety. (Marketing Dive)

Quote of the Day: “I think for a cohesive strategy and for really helping to build awareness as well as grow the market size for new things, there's definitely digital and social media. But also, there has to be this in-real-life element.”—Alicia Yoon, Founder, Peach & Lily (YPulse)

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