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

“My work schedule can be hectic, so I snack on nuts, berries, or other non-deadly foods during any downtime.”

—Male, 32, KY

AwesomenessTV and fashion/beauty brands are coming together to make branded series for Gen Z. In the past, AwesomenessTV has worked with numerous brands to produce original content, including CoverGirl and Kohl’s. Now they’re planning a 24-part docu-series with Hollister called “This is Summer,” following teens’ high school journeys—while they’re clad in shoppable Hollister clothing of course. Our own Chief Content Officer explains that Ypulse has “found Gen Z to be fairly open to watching sponsored entertainment,” with 77% of 13-17-year-olds agreeing, "As long as the story is interesting, I don't mind that it is sponsored." (Glossy)

Fullscreen agrees that Gen Z is the generation that’s most receptive to branded content. Their survey found over half of Gen Z doesn’t mind even undisclosed branded content, and significantly more Gen Z teens than Millennials have engaged with social branded content (viewing photos, liking and sharing content and tagging friends) in the past six months. Influencer marketing wins out with the group, with over half of teens preferring influencer content to pre-roll, sponsored posts, banners, and traditional TV commercials. The sweet spot for advertisers may be branded video, especially when influencers are involved. (TubefilterAdweek)

Graduation spending is expected to reach a record $5.6 billion for the Class of 2017. Over half of the graduation gifts given will be cash, followed by greeting cards, gift cards, apparel, and electronic devices. Another trend for the year is more and more peers giving each other gifts, with a 6% lift year over year. Younger consumers will spend an average of $78.42 ,compared to 45-54-year-olds’ $119.84 and 65-and-over’s $112.34, and while greeting cards are also most popular, they’re also almost twice as likely to gift clothing. (ConsumerAffairs)

Instagram has the “most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing,” followed by Snapchat, according to a recent study. The image-centric platforms could “driv[e] feelings of inadequacy and anxiety,” and were rated the most poorly for their impacts on sleep, FOMO, and body image. Out of the top five most popular social media platforms, YouTube was the only one that earned a positive score. The silver lining? Some argue the evaluation is “blaming the medium for the message,” and social media/online communities are also Gen Z and Millennials’ top resource for learning about “mindfulness, meditation, and wellness,” according to Ypulse data. (The Guardian)

Lego is being called the “most powerful brand in the world,” beating out Google, Visa, and Nike. Brand Finance’s latest valuation report shows Lego’s brand value increased 68% over last year, looking at metrics like “familiarity, loyalty, promotion, marketing investment, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation.” At least some of the lift can be attributed to the successful movie franchise (The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie) and its strategic partnership with Star Wars.

(Business Insider)

“I kind of don't like the commercialization of fandom culture…However, creating licensed products is one way a brand could interact.”

—Male, 24, MO

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