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Dove, Nike, Hershey’s Among Millennials’, Gen Z’s Most Trusted Brands

Image credit: Lars/Unsplash

The erosion of trust among consumers – and especially young consumers bucketed as Millennials or Gen Z – is top-of-mind for brands fighting for brand loyalty in a world with the highest youth population in history. How to use transparency, social media and influencer marketing are important considerations for brands in an era where purpose and values increasingly determine where the next generations want to work and spend their money.

Are young people finding the authenticity and trust they seek from brands? The short answer is yes, and they do consider themselves loyal to at least one brand they find trustworthy. According to a new ranking from Ybrands, Ypulse’s youth brand tracking product, Dove, Nike and Hershey’s are the top three “most trustworthy” brands according to consumers aged 13 to 36. Rounding out the top 10 are Amazon, Oreo, M&M’s, Target, Google, Netflix and Adidas.

Bobby Calise, Ypulse’s vice president of Ybrands, said the list is an “interesting mix in that, I think, young people ascribe trustworthiness to a brand for a variety of subjective reasons.”

“Dove, for example, has built its reputation around its ‘Real Beauty’ campaigns, which comes through in its trustworthy ranking,” Calise told Marketing Daily. “Meanwhile, young people may trust brands like Hershey's, Oreo, and M&M's because they've consistently made products they love for a long time — and there's no reason not to trust them.”

‘Megabrands’ such as Amazon, Target, Google and Netflix may be inherently trusted because they are so ubiquitous and popular, he added. Similarly, Gen Z is especially favorable to brands that they have been engaging with throughout their childhood, such as Oreo, Hershey’s, M&M’s, Kraft Mac & Cheese and Little Debbie, which all ranked in the generation’s top ten most-trusted brands in Ybrands data released earlier this year. The data showed that Amazon is trusted by roughly 60 percent of both Millennials and Gen Z, while PayPal was also trusted by over 55 percent of Millennial respondents, indicating more confidence in online payments and ordering than Gen Z for the time being.

A Ybrands survey from earlier this year asked more than 27,000 13- to 36-year-olds about a set of over 200 brands. Of those they're aware of, they were asked "Which of the following are trustworthy?" Respondents could select zero, one or multiple brands. The trustworthy scores in the table are shown as a percentage. | Image credit: Ypulse

Gen Z reported higher levels of trust in general, with its top ten scores ranging from 55 to 75 percent, while Millennials’ scores only reached a height of 65 percent. Both generations strongly trust Nike, which scored by far the highest of the apparel brands examined. Under Armour and Levi’s also made the top ten list for Gen Z, while The North Face was included for Millennials.

Of the over 230 brands now included in Ybrands’ annual surveys of some 80,000 consumers aged 13 to 36, the strong performance of apparel and food and beverage brands is notable given these sectors’ acute awareness of consumers’ increasing demands for transparency about where and how their clothes, food and drinks are made. (Health and beauty, quick service restaurants (QSR) and casual dining, and media, tech and entertainment round out the five verticals Ybrands examines.)

Ybrands took a closer look at fashion brands, comparing perceived authenticity and whether they are considered “cool.” Nike earned the top spots on both lists, but while its Jordan brand was the second coolest, it fell to eighth in most authentic, where Levi’s took the second spot. Adidas ranked third, Vans ranked fourth and Under Armour ranked fifth on both lists.

“Nike is kind of like the Beatles or the Beyonce brands in that they've achieved both critical and commercial success, especially when it comes to the youth market,” Calise said. “No matter how we slice the data — by age, gender, ethnicity, region — Nike tops the list of the coolest fashion brands among Millennials and Gen Z. Nike also owns two of the other top 10 coolest brands, Jordan and Converse.”

Rounding out the top 10 coolest fashion brands are Converse, The North Face, Supreme, PINK and Timberland. Supreme’s popularity is largely driven by the 18-24 demographic, which ranked it as the fifth coolest brand and was 30 to 40 points more aware of the brand than the 13-17 and 25-36 age groups.

Ranking fifth through tenth in the most authentic fashion brands category were The North Face, Target, Converse and Fruit of the Loom.

Levi’s fell just outside the top 10 on “cool” despite earning second place in authenticity.

“After 165 years in business — and perhaps because of that long history — Levi’s is still perceived among teens, 20- and 30-somethings as true to itself,” said Carlise. “Even Nike could learn something from Levi’s when it comes to authenticity.”


Hannah Furlong is an Editorial Assistant for Sustainable Brands, based in Canada. She is researching the circular economy as a Master's student in Sustainability Management at the University of Waterloo and holds a Bachelor's in Environment and Business Co-op. Hannah… [Read more about Hannah Furlong]


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