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

“I saw some heartbreaking stories in the internet, and decided to look up some international charities and donate to them.”—Male, 20, WA

Magazine covers aren’t dying in the age of digital—even when publications go out of print. Digital-only covers are “captur[ing] the print magazine's tangible essence” while building hype for media brands on social media (especially Instagram). PorterComplexNylonGQ and more publications have taken on the trend, featuring celebrities like Chance the Rapper to Sophie Turner. For magazines looking for a comeback with young consumers, digital-only covers can “translate their own brand for the web." (Fashionista)

Following “a series of scandals,” YouTube is taking major steps to overhaul its video review process and ad placement policies. The new guidelines “kick tens of thousands of video makers out” of the ad program by requiring anyone who generates ad revenue to produce 4,000 hours of content and gain 1,000 subscribers in one year, upping the ante from the previous requirement of 10,000 lifetime views. YouTube is also promising to manually review every video in its top tier of advertising (Google Preferred), and they’ve hired 10,000 new employees in the last year to get the job done. (recode)

Some Millennial parents are applying their minimalist tendencies to their kids’ toy chests to battle play clutter with “toy limitation.” It’s not a new concept—some schools of thought that have “advocate[d] simple, open-ended toys” include Montessori, Waldorf, and RIE—and today’s advocates say limiting toys can improve focus and happiness. A report from the University of Toledo concluded that toddlers “played ‘better’” when given fewer toys, meaning they played with each toy for longer and in more creative ways. However, some parents worry that they’re “denying [their children’s] self-expression” when they limit toys, and so the debate continues. (Slate)

Tostitos is giving fans their very own personalized Super Bowl ads to invite friends to their game parties. The platform takes a user's name, address, and other invite info and spins it into a video perfect for Customization Nation. Each ad features a different combination of Super Bowl clichés, including a “talking baby, puppies, sassy older women, [and] a celebrity pitchman.” Considering Ypulse data shows 64% of 13-34-year-olds watched some or all of the 2017 Super Bowl with friends and family, it’s a safe bet at least some will be sending out invites, possibly with some Tostitos product placement this year. (Adweek)

Facebook’s new feature lets Groups co-view each other’s content. “Watch Party” allows Group admins to show any Facebook video to members simultaneously, and to comment on a “dedicated reel” for a “shared viewing experience.” The feature is another step towards the platform’s new goal to “encourage meaningful social interactions,” and their new focus on Groups. The push for social viewing could possibly be integrated into other aspects of Facebook and its properties, like group chats. (TechCrunch)

“I plan to go to a free barre class at a local studio that is offering them as part of a New Year's promotion.”—Female, 33, MA

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