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: “A lot of people stay in jobs they hate. They feel stuck or need the money. I refuse to do this. I just gave up a Nursing career to be a CSR and I have never been happier.”—Female, 27, IN

YouTube is cracking down on creators that participate in dangerous viral challenges. The media giant updated their community guidelines to take a stronger stance against stunts that spin out of control—like the Tide Pod Challenge. Any creator that performs “pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger” will earn a strike—three and they’re out. What could constitute a strike? Just ask Jake Paul, who recently drove blindfolded for the #BirdBoxChallenge. (The Verge)

The inner five-year-old of Millennials everywhere is jumping up and down for Hot Topic’s Polly Pocket collab. In partnership with Mattel, the brand that wins at delivering unique styles is dropping a 17-piece collection of nostalgic merch. (The line looks a lot like another throwback collection we called out last year.) In celebration of the iconic toy’s 30th birthday (feel old yet?), ‘90s kids can cop everything from bags to hats to mini makeup palettes that feature shades like “Made in the 90s.” (Nylon)

YouTubers Life OMG! is like The Sims for a generation of aspiring social media stars. Players can pretend to be a video game streamer, a passionate creative, or another influencer. But the game is just as realistic as the kids who play it, making them do chores and deliver newspapers when they’re off the air. Similarly, most kids seem to know the dream is not a full-time gig; just take it from nine-year-old Oliver, who explains, “Of course I will have a good job as well, not just YouTube." (Vice)

Big brands are swooping in to save young shoppers from 2018’s oat milk shortage. The buzzy beverage has become the environmentally friendly alternative to almond milk for Millennial & Gen Z shoppers seeking dairy-free and vegan options. It became a barista favorite this year, mainly thanks to industry upstart, Oatly, which is opening a new factory to up their production. But they better hurry: big brands like Pepsi Co.’s Quaker Oats, Danone’s Silk, and Califia Farms are all getting in on this grain-based trend. (Bloomberg)

The most old-fashioned form of TV is experiencing a surge: over-the-air. While the Post-TV Gen continue to cut the cord, more are buying physical antennas to tap free networks and watch live events. Nielsen data found that this kind of old-school appointment viewing jumped from 9% of all homes in 2010 to 14% last year. Diving deeper into that 14%, about three in five also subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, and their median age is 36. (Fortune)

Quote of the Day: “I’d rather do a job I'm passionate about for a lower salary than do a high-paying but low-rewarding job.”—Male, 18, MA

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