MBPT Spotlight: Agency Study Finds Millennials’ ‘Most-Beloved’ Brands Include Target But Not Facebook

The “most-beloved” brands among millennials, ages 14-35, according to a study by independent digital advertising agency Moosylvania, are Nike, Apple, Samsung, Sony and Walmart.

The Maplewood, Mo.-based agency, whose clients include Bacardi USA, Enterprise, PayPal, Sapporo and Nature’s Variety, among others, does an annual study that ranks the top 50 millennial brands. The study, based on panel results from 1,500 millennials, not only ranks the brands but also offers reasons why they are the most popular.

Newcomers on the Top 50 list this year include Pizza Hut (No. 21), Chevrolet (23), Ralph Lauren (30), Honda (31), Oreo (33), Sprint (42), Chanel (43) and Wendy’s (47). And while many media reports were predicting gloom and doom for Target, following last holiday season’s data security breach, the retail chain rose from 27 last year to 6 in this year’s survey of millennials. Another interesting result—Facebook was among 11 brands that lost favor with the demo, dropping out of the Top 50 list, along with PlayStation and Old Navy.

Norty Cohen, Moosylvania founder and CEO, says the millennial generation “is looking for brands that help them become something more than their regular selves. Provide a high-quality product or service that helps them look cool and millennials will return the favor with their recommendations and purchasing power.”

Cohen adds that millennials “care about what’s happening on their street, in their neighborhood and beyond, and so should marketers” trying to reach them. “Brands that market with a strong, positive message, and display a sense of social responsibility, show they care about what millennials care about.”

Cohen used as an example Ralph Lauren, which moved into the Top 50 from 104 last year, and Wendy’s which jumped to 47 this year. He pointed out that both created campaigns that included participatory TV commercials and music videos. The companies then micro-targeted consumers by speaking directly to them through their various social media platforms.

“Millennials are not just consumers, they’re friends,” Cohen says. “They trust friends who listen to them, are open and honest, remember their names, are consistent and stay true to who they are. Marketers who connect with them as friends on that level have an opportunity to break into the favorites list.”

The report talks about the purchasing power of millennials, pointing out that there are 74.3 million people in the demo and a combined purchasing power of $170 billion annually. That exceeds generation X, which has a population of 65.7 million and a purchasing power annually of $125 million.

The gender breakdown of those within the study was 52% female and 48% male, with 44% age 30-35, 32% age 25-29, 16% age 20-24 and 8% age 14-19.

Among the top five favorite brands among millennials, the first four—Nike, Apple, Samsung and Sony—maintained their ranking from last year’s study. However, Walmart jumped 19 spots from last year to grab the fifth position, and Target jumped 21 spots to garner sixth place. Rounding out the Top 10 were Microsoft at 7 (which fell 3 spots), Coke at 8 (+6 spots), Jordan which jumped 45 spots to ninth and Pepsi, which rose 90 spots to tenth.

The second 10 “favorites” of millennials, in order, include Amazon, Google, Nintendo, Adidas, Dell, Macy’s, McDonald’s, JCPenney, Ford and Converse. Positions 21 to 30 include Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Chevrolet, Valve, Vans, Dove, Verizon, Best Buy, Xbox and Ralph Lauren. Positions 31 to 40 include Honda, Colgate, Oreo, Nestle, Hewlett-Packard, Forever 21, Hershey’s, Victoria’s Secret, Kellogg’s and Kraft. Rounding out the Top 50 are Levi’s, Sprint, Chanel, Android, Under Armour, Aeropostale, Wendy’s, LG, Bethesda and Asus.

The biggest moves up on the popularity chart were made by Verizon, which jumped 346 spots since last year, Nestle, which jumped 260 spots and Macy’s, which increased 259 spots on the list.

Millennials were asked what matters to them when considering what brand to buy. The most important consideration, listed by 75% of those polled was that it needed to stand for high quality. Then, 61% said it needs to be a product or brand they would want to recommend to friends; 53% said a brand needs to fit their personality; 40% said the brand needs to be socially responsible; 39% said the brand has to share similar interests; and 31% said the brand has to offer important messages.

Among the brands millennials in the study listed as having high quality that would lead them to recommending them to friends are: Amazon, Apple, Target, Google, Samsung, Nike, Microsoft, Coke, Sony and Walmart.

Brands that millennials believe are offering up positive messages and displaying a strong sense of responsibility include: Microsoft, Amazon, Coke, Apple, Nintendo, Google, Macy’s, Target, Walmart, Samsung, Sony and Nike.

Brands millennials listed as talking the same language as they do include: Apple, Dell, Google, Amazon, Target, Nintendo, Microsoft, Nike, Samsung, Coke, Walmart and Sony.

The report also offers some case study details from an actual Moosylvania promotional marketing initiative it did for the Bacardi OakHeart brand of spiced rum, reaching out to 21-and-over millennials. The agency created the Bacardi OakHeart Challenge, targeting rum drinkers. During a three-month period, Bacardi fans could visit a special website and participate in weekly challenges and a sweepstakes encouraged participants to return regularly for chances to win prizes like OakHeart t-shirts, Bacardi steins, bar barrels, LED signs and the grand prize—a trip for two to Puerto Rico.

The agency also teamed up the Bacardi OakHeart Challenge with the Great Urban Race scavenger hunt racing series to sponsor 11 races throughout 2013 and 2014, including the championship race in Puerto Rico. And it gave consumers a chance to help select challenges to be used in the events.

For the 2014 promotion, the site received 346,377 visits, got 72,873 social referrals and was shared 18,000-plus times on Twitter, resulting in 6,500 Great Urban Race sweepstakes entries, and 13,000-plus weekly sweepstakes entries. It also gave strong exposure to the relatively new Bacardi brand.

The complete study has detailed analysis of eight categories including, alcohol, apparel and accessories, automotive, consumer packaged goods, entertainment, financial, retail and more about the millennial favorite brands.

A full copy of the study can by had by visiting moosylvania.com.