Millennials’ Top 20 Favorite Brands

It’s free content week! We're counting down our five most popular articles of 2015 so far, and giving all our readers access to them. Here is the 2nd most clicked, originally published January 15th, 2015—we hope you enjoy!

We asked Millennials to tell us their favorite brands, and culled their quantitative responses into a top 20 list that reflects this generation's tastes, values, and needs. We're diving deep into what made their top 20 and why.

Our most clicked article of 2014 was our dive into the brands that Millennials trust. Today, we’re going straight to the big question and showing you the top 20 companies that surfaced when we asked 13-32-year-olds to tell us what their favorite brand is. This is a qualitative look at the question, which we left open-ended, and narrowed down to their top 20 responses to glean insight on the brands that are appealing to this generation, and those that aren’t making the list.

When asking about favorite brands, it’s important to keep in mind that the responses will include those that are top of mind, those that are used most often, and those that are actually viewed in a positive light. That being said, clearly the list of top 20 brands can tell us plenty about young consumers’ tastes:

Apple, Nike, and TOMS were the top three favorite brands, in that order. Apple’s position at the top is not a surprise. Despite the standing slip they took at one point in 2014, they remain the brand that Millennials use most, have top of mind, and have positive feelings for. The top brands also reflects this generation's tech-mindedness, with three of the top five brands in the tech category: Apple, Samsung, and Google. If Nike is included as a tech brand (think Nike Plus, etc.) that makes a full four out of five. Tech brands' high ranking echoes their position in the most trusted brand list, and again these tech brands’ dominance aligns with the generation’s reliance on their devices. But it also shows that those brands they see as innovative and quality are highly esteemed. Innovative was a word that came up again and again with these brands: a 16-year-old male named Samsung because “They are very innovative and try to push forward with technology,” and one 24-year-old female chose Apple because they are “constantly innovative.”

In the same survey, we also asked respondents to choose the aspects that makes them want to buy from a brand. 66% told us they chose to buy from brands that have a positive message, and 54% chose to buy from brands that make them feel good about themselves. These qualities are clearly possessed by the top brands listed. One 21-year-old male said of Apple: “They have good products and I feel good buying from them,” and a 31-year-old female told us Victoria’s Secret “[m]akes me feel good about myself.”

Overall open-end responses for favorite brand were incredibly fragmented, reflecting niche brands, more independent companies, celebrities, and more designer labels. Of course, not included in this top 20 are the many Millennials who told us they don’t have a favorite brand. A good amount of these respondents let us know that as long as a product was ethical, or good for the environment, they would buy it. One 25-year-old female said, “Anything reusable and good for the environment,” while a 23-year-old male told us, “I like any that are environmentally friendly.” This preference for brands (even if they won’t name any specific one) that make a positive impact in the world is clearly reflected in the top 20. TOMS, Google, Lush, Dove and Coca-Cola were all given kudos from respondents who named them as a favorite for making a difference and giving back. A 29-year-old female told us she chose TOMS because she "can feel good about making a purchase from them. They use responsibly-sourced material, fair-wage labor and give back to communities.”

The fashion brands who made the top 20 reflect two of Millennials’ desired brand qualities: affordability and quality. While Levi’s and J.Crew made the list for their quality products and style, those who named Forever 21 were more likely to mention low prices and budget.

Of course, the categories of brands that didn’t make the top 20 also speaks volumes about these consumers: no car or food companies managed to crack the list.  

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “Retail should be a facilitator for experience, rather than just selling product.”—Sharmandean Reid, Founder, Wah Nails London (YPulse)

Millennials seeking portable booze are cracking open canned wine. Even though the category still only accounts for less than 1% of the Millennial-favorite alcoholic beverages’ market, Nielsen reports it spiked 69% last year and continues to gain ground. An exec at Delicato Family Wines explains, “Millennials have grown up in a world where consuming wine outdoors—or any location outside of the traditional table—is more acceptable than generations past.” (Wine Spectator)

Summer camps are cropping up to teach kids how to become YouTubers. At I-D Tech Camps, Level Up, and Star Camps, kids can learn all about how to, as the latter puts it, “Become an Internet sensation.” They offer courses in how to create and post videos, from shooting clips to editing audio, and how to build their personal brand. But don’t worry, most are framing YouTubing as a hobby, not a career, and setting kids’ expectations accordingly. (WSJ)

A new bill could change the free-to-play profit model that’s made games like Fortnite top earners. Senators have proposed the official ban of “loot boxes,” or items that players can buy (and sometimes must buy) to win a video game, often gambling on what’s inside. Senator Ed Markey explains that “Inherently manipulative game features that take advantage of kids and turn play time into pay time should be out of bounds.” For some, this will eliminate a key revenue stream and open the door to review other in-game purchases.  (The Verge)

A social media overhaul upped Corn Nuts’ sales by 12%—with no paid support.The snack’s sales were stagnant before a new exec took over their Twitter, infusing it with the personable tone food brands have become known for (and sometimes notorious for). Since then, followers spiked from 650 to 21,000, and what they’re calling a “scrappy” strategy “absolutely translated to sales,” reporting that retail sales spiked 12% and Millennials’ repeat purchases rose the same percentage. (Marketing Dive)

The retail apocalypse continues, with 7,000 more stores closing their doors in 2019. CoStar Group estimates that the square footage of retail space closed has topped its own record each year since 2017, and this year they’re “predicting more of the same.” PayLess ShoeSource, Gymboree, Dressbarn, and Charlotte Russe lead the list of number stores planned to shutter this year, as retailers learn to scale down size and up Experiencification for young shoppers. (Business Insider

Quote of the Day: “It’s a really interesting time at the moment in catalog [music]…Sometimes, it’s a question of how we make something out of nothing.”—Tim Fraser-Harding, President, Global Catalogue, Recorded Music at Warner Music Group (Rolling Stone)

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