Gen Z’s 100 Favorite Brands: How Many Are In Your Brand Set?

 

Of the 100 top Gen Z brands, 18 are also in my brand set. Only 6, however, could be remotely classified as favorites.

I must say this list is making me a bit skeptical about Gen Z (i.e. teens, for those of you not up on the latest demographic lingo). For example, Gen Z supposedly gravitate to brands that offer healthy eating and to companies taking bold stances on social issues.

Well not so fast! While a few of their favorites fall into those categories, the vast majority do not.

Based on this list (compiled by Ypulse), the 5 top drivers for brand engagement/purchase are far less high minded.

What almost all of the Top 100 brands do offer is:

  • Strong social media presence, humor, relevant celebs and influencers
  • Tasty, fun, snackable junk food
  • Technology
  • Affordable/ A deal
  • Useful and convenient!

Here’s the Gen Z Top 10 (those bolded are ones also in my brand set).

  • #1: YouTube – Gen Z watches YouTube more than Netflix, Hulu, or cable. “The content on YouTube is so much more diverse and funny and relatable,” said one 16-year-old. “The stuff on TV is so outdated. I would watch Netflix, but I don’t have the money to sign up.”
  • Doritos – engineered food!
  • Oreos – popular for its weird flavors e.g. Swedish fish
  • Netflix
  • Hershey’s – going after Gen Z using Facebook (doesn’t sound like the smartest move)
  • M&M’s
  • Cheetos – their food mashups are on-point!
  • Nike – the top sneaker company in the US. and for Gen Z, excellent move to support/align themselves with Colin Kaepernick.
  • Sour Patch Kids – they’re working on turning The Sour Patch Kid into a celebrity on Snapchat and YouTube (goodbye Facebook!)
  • #10 – McDonald’s

 

Read on below for the remaining 11-100 and for my personal top 10. And just a heads-up, my personal top 10 does not include YouTube, Doritos or Oreos!

 

GEN Z TOP 11-19

 

  • Amazon
  • Google
  • Apple – favorite tech brand with 90% of Gen Z claiming to have an iPhone?
  • Kraft Mac & Cheese – their childhood favorite, made healthy with the removal of artificial colors/flavors in 2015
  • Gatorade – top brand in sports drinks
  • Pop-Tarts
  • Taco Bell – Strong social media game (and, btw, just voted #1 Mexican restaurant in America)
  • Axe – Its ad strategy appeals to social conscious Gen Z by tackling issues like toxic masculinity and how sexism hurts men (really?)
  • Snickers – 80% of Gen Z have purchased

GEN Z TOP 20-29

 

  • Chick-fil-A – the “coolest” fast-food, it’s the favorite restaurant of upper-income teens, and second for average-income teens.
  • Coca Cola – new cans and celeb endorsements
  • Snapchat – 45% say Snapchat is their social media platform of choice, though they’ve been moving away from the app to Instagram recently.
  • Chips Ahoy – 80% have bought
  • Subway – healthy?
  • Kit Kat
  • Instagram – Moving ahead of Snapchat in popularity
  • Little Debbie – low-cost snack appeals to frugal Gen Z. The brand also has a strong social media presence.
  • Bath & Body Works
  • Goldfish – involved with 2 causes Gen Z care about: LGBT rights and organic food?

GEN Z TOP 30-39

 

  • Facebook – they use the messenger app (and stay on Facebook primarily to stay in touch with older users/family etc.)
  • Hostess
  • Capri Sun – healthy? Sponsorship with John Legend?
  • Target
  • Tostitos
  • Wendy’s – healthy?
  • Starbucks
  • Breyers Ice Cream – social media influencers and sustainability
  • Adidas – Gen Zs are in love with Adidas’ street-style aesthetic. Its Stan Smith line cemented Adidas’ ranking as one of Gen Z’s favorite sneaker brands.
  • Under Armour – the brand of underdogs

GEN Z TOP 40-49

 

  • Dunkin Donuts – partners with social media influencers like Logan Paul (still??)
  • Mountain Dew – humorous ads
  • Cover Girl – a slew of new “authentically diverse” Cover Girls appeal to socially conscious Gen Z’s e.g. Ayesha Curry, Issa Rae, and Katy Perry.
  • Converse – avoiding big name stars and going with smaller, more iconic names
  • Nintendo – major product success stories with Switch and Pokemon Go
  • Walmart
  • Vans – popular for its 90’s styles
  • Dairy Queen – cheap meal deals, and upping the quality of its Blizzard
  • Lunchables – bigger portions?
  • Dove – brand messaging for all size women

GEN Z TOP 50-59

 

  • Old Navy – sponsored videos, like the My Squad Contest gives teens the chance to compete to meet their favorite internet celebrities.
  • DiGiorno – facial-recognition software and YouTube celebrities
  • Pillsbury – two-thirds have bought
  • Jordan sneakers
  • Hot Pockets – targets men age 18 to 34 (Gen Z tops out at 21) with ads focusing on gaming, music, and sports. Partners with influential online gamers.
  • Kool-Aid – uses Snapchat filters to promote new products, a GIF keyboard, and partnerships with YouTube celebrities.
  • Eggo – When “Stranger Things” started featuring the brand in 2016, Eggo seized the opportunity with Halloween costumes, new recipes and a Google Chrome extension.
  • Ben & Jerry’s – big in social activism. Its YouTube channel features videos discussing climate change and how the company sources ingredients.
  • Pizza Hut – delivers beer along with pizza?
  • Pepsi

GEN Z TOP 60-69

 

  • Marvel – especially appealing to Gen Z — the most diverse generation in US history. Its afro-futuristic “Black Panther” is one of the highest-grossing films ever.
  • E.L.F. Cosmetics – “microinfluencers.”
  • Powerade – because it’s good for you?
  • Slim Jims – it’s gone upscale, made from grass-fed beef or in flavors like Thai Style Chili.
  • Old Spice – wacky, viral ads
  • Dr. Pepper – two-thirds have purchased
  • Levi’s – stretchier pants?
  • Sprite – strong Snapchat game and healthy??
  • Heinz Ketchup
  • Totino’s – partnering with irreverent comedians?

GEN Z TOP 70-79

 

  • Burger King – winning with food mash-ups — including its deep-fried concoction of mac ‘n’ cheese covered in Cheetos dust.
  • Trident
  • North Face – focuses on socially responsible marketing strategies that emphasize its investment in women’s empowerment and environmentalism
  • Nesquick
  • Maybelline – skilled at social engagement and influencers like Gigi Hadid, also educational posts.
  • Domino’s Pizza – top-notch marketing, order using emojis, self-driving pizza delivery cars and a program for paving potholes across America.
  • Ulta – Gen Z women spend more on beauty than apparel.
  • Beats by Dre – celebrity marketing with Pharrell, Nicki Minaj, and Dr. Dre.
  • Spotify – 60% say its their most used music app for its playlists, freemium model, and huge selection of music.
  • Honey Nut Cheerios – sponsors gaming publications e.g. Kotaku

GEN Z TOP 80-89

Aerie Share Your Spark Campaign (PRNewsFoto/Aerie)

  • American Eagle – owes its popularity to lingerie line Aerie which Gen Z apparently sees as a sign of female empowerment (ads aren’t retouched). Also partners with activism influencers.
  • Sephora – Gen Z beauty spending jumped 18% (vs. 2% increase in overall spending)
  • Degree – celebrates diverse cultures, music, and dance in its advertising
  • Twitter – apparently more popular with Gen Z than among millennials and Gen X?
  • Hot Topic – Fashion trends have become more gothic and punk and they stock lots of plaid, band tees, and other 90’s gear.
  • Clean & Clear – acne?
  • Kohl’s – discount options are especially appealing?
  • Butterfinger – 60% have bought
  • Sonic Drive-In
  • Samsung – one of the most talked about brands online due to its partnership with Instagram and YouTube influencers

GEN Z TOP 90-100

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 27: Actress and mom Hilary Duff announces the “Imagine If, With Jif” contest kick off with Jif® Peanut Butter on August 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Jif)

 

  • Jif – teamed up with Hilary Duff
  • KFC
  • Buffalo Wild Wings – you can customize with different sauces
  • Toaster Strudel – high protein?
  • Hi-C
  • EOS – Founded in 2009, targets influencers and celebrities vs. traditional PR
  • Panera – fresh and customizable and has a delivery option
  • Microsoft – 44% of Gen Z’s say it’s an “innovative” brand
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods – shares values with socially minded Gen Z when it announced it would no longer be selling AR-15 assault rifles. (HOWEVER, sales down significantly after making this move.)
  • Planters – considered a healthy choice by Gen Z?
  • Hulu – only 2% of Gen Zs rely on cable

 

And here’s my Top 10 (not in any particular order). However, these are all brands/services that are in heavy rotation in my life:

  • Soho House
  • Wallaby Yogurt, tied with Greecologies yogurt
  • Vans Sneakers
  • COS
  • YMCA (my local gym)
  • Google
  • Apple – phone and laptop
  • Amazon, tied with Jet
  • Bloomberg Media (TV and Podcasts)
  • Whole Foods – you’ve all heard me complain incessantly about how it’s going downhill, nevertheless I shop there at least 3 or 4 times per week

 

Bottom Line.

What I find most interesting about a study like this, is the disconnect between what we “say” we value vs. what we actually do e.g. Gen Z claims to eat healthy but all the top brands fall squarely into junk food territory.

At the end of the day, most consumers (no matter their age), want products/services that make their lives better, more fun, easier. Convenience and price round out the top 5 priorities. Everything else is window dressing.

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