The lists of brands that these young consumers trust include some surprises—and there’s more than one brand that both generations see as most trustworthy…
We’ve explored the erosion of trust among Millennials and Gen Z in the past—and found that young consumers growing up in a “post-truth” world are looking for authenticity in their public figures, as their trust in traditional institutions all but disappears. As we pointed out then, with trust at an all-time low, it’s become a rare, and valuable, commodity. So in the era when 82% take everything they read or see “with a grain of salt,” is it possible for a brand to be trusted? In short, the answer is yes. In 2014, when we asked young consumers if there are any brands that they can really trust, 73% said yes.
In our research on brand loyalty, we found that almost eight in ten 13-34-year-olds consider themselves loyal to one or more brands, and explored what that loyalty looks like—from the categories in which they feel brand names matter to what would make them switch brands, and more. Young consumers today are loyal-ish: they’ll stick to brands, but you have to do just the right things to keep them coming back, and some are more loyal than others. Being a brand they trust is part of that formula, and while it’s difficult for brands to gain young consumers’ trust, it’s not impossible. Over half of 13-34-year-olds told us they believe brands can be trustworthy experts, and as Co.Design describes, the point of brands is to act as “shortcuts to the decision-making process,” and when shoppers trust a brand, they can buy it without thinking twice.
So what brands have managed to earn their trust? Ypulse’s new youth brand tracker survey, Ybrands, we’ve asked more than 27,000 13-36-year-old consumers about their relationships with, and perceptions of, over 200 brands so far this year—including what brands they consider trustworthy.* We’ve pulled the most-trusted brands among both Gen Z and Millennials based on the resulting trust scores, and here’s what we found:
*As part of Ybrands’ Brand Personality survey module, respondents are shown a set of brands they have told us they’re aware of and answer the question, “Which of the following are TRUSTWORTHY?” Respondents may select zero, one, or multiple brands. Trustworthy scores can be read as a percentage. The brands on this list are among the 200+ brands included in the brand tracker as of publishing. Rankings are subject to change as more brands are added and removed.
Oreo is the top-trusted brand among Gen Z, and Nike ranked as the most-trusted among Millennials—but both brands made it on both generations’ top 10 trusted brand list. In fact, there was a significant amount of crossover on the brands that Gen Z and Millennials trust most, with five brands ranking in the top 10 for both groups: Nike, Oreo, Hershey’s, M&M’s, and Amazon. We’ll start with the obvious commonality: three of these five brands are sweet treats that young consumers clearly have positive associations with. They are also some of the brands they have been interacting with throughout their entire lives, and 80% of 13-34-year-olds say they are most trusting of brands that have existed for a long time. Gen Z’s list is especially heavy on the brands that have been treats and favorites throughout their childhood, including Kraft Mac & Cheese (which regularly helps land Kraft at the top of our favorite food brand rankings) and Little Debbie. Their high rankings as trusted brands makes sense on several levels—young consumers feel they can rely on their products, and have (relatively) long memories of these brands satisfying their literal cravings.
Moving beyond the food brands on both generations’ lists, we find some of the brands we know have earned young consumers’ spending power: Nike and Amazon. Amazon, which earned a higher trust score among Millennials, has been called out by Ypulse as a consistent favorite among the generation, who are hooked on its services. In fact, trust in the site is so high that 38% of Amazon customers told LendEDU that they would trust the online retail giant with their finances as much as they would a traditional bank. But its high Ybrands trust ranking among Gen Z could also mean the younger generation will be following in Millennials’ online ordering footsteps. Notably, three in five 13-34-year-olds say that they trust a brand more when they have reliable customer service, which Amazon has made a turnkey part of their platform.
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