Gen Z's Favorite Brands: YouTube, Amazon, Band-Aid

New research from Collage Group, a market research company focusing on cultural fluency, reveals a surprising list of the brands young consumers love best. YouTube, Amazon, Band-Aid and Oreo lead the list, with KitKat, Febreze, Hershey’s Nike and Apple coming in next.

The list shows how highly younger consumers prize value, convenience and entertainment. But it also reveals how much they want to hear from people, not brands. “Top brands have developed relatable, true to the Gen Z experience, personas that extend through multiple touchpoints and create authentic engagement,” the company notes in the report.

It also highlights the rapid aging of a group many marketers still think of as teenagers. Many are leaving young adulthood behind, establishing families and careers.

Collage, based in Bethesda, Maryland, bases the ranking on three criteria: First, it looks at brands with above-average cultural fluency scores, a weighted composite of consumer sentiment about a brand’s fit, relevance, memories, values, trust, and advocacy. It combines that with the measurement of brand’s ability to leverage halo effects and those that are activating cultural insights.



The research also lists brands that are highly differentiated among younger consumers. Apple Pay leads that ranking, with a 509-place difference between Gen Z and non-Gen Z customers. Spotify, Sour Patch Kids, Duolingo and Nickelodeon come next.

Brands achieve that level of differentiation, the report says, by playing up values that matter most to Gen Z. Apple Pay, for example, knows the tech-savvy demographic wants seamless financial tools. It builds on existing loyalty and positive brand experiences with Apple. But it’s also innovative, with Apple Pay Later answering financial concerns and the desire for alternative payment options. As a result, 59% of Gen Z consumers describe Apple Pay as “a brand on the rise,” and 42% of teens have used it in the last month.

It also succeeds because it appreciates that Gen Z-ers feels an immense amount of pressure, both internal and external, amplified by the constant comparisons available online. About 70% of Gen Z respondents say they often worry about their financial situation, compared to 65% of the population.

Duolingo, another brand earning outsized Gen Z affection, wins by transforming education into something fun and approachable. It helps that much of the content is rooted in humor. However, the brand’s purpose fits beautifully with important Gen Z values: appreciation for culture and language diversity and their sense of what Collage calls “Collective Individuality.”  Inherently diverse, this generations’ “online exposure to people of different backgrounds empowers them to celebrate differences and be themselves.”

And the gamified approach to language lessons makes Duolingo an ideal fit for younger users.

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