Gen Z’s Favorite Brands Are a Mix of Tech Companies and Some You Wouldn’t Expect

Outliers include Dairy Queen, Chapstick and Dollar Tree

Gen Z's favorite brands include Google, Netflix, YouTube, Walmart, Target and Dunkin' Donuts. Getty Images, Google, Target, Oreo, Netflix
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Gen Zers are entering a golden age, with marketers trying to classify them and figure out what they like.

In Morning Consult’s study of Gen Z’s top 25 favorite brands, the tech and media company used four metrics—brand favorability, trust, community impact and net promoter score—to determine its rankings. Tech companies dominate the list, with Google, Netflix and YouTube taking the top three spots. Others, like Walmart and Target, also make the list as do a few outliers, when the data breaks down demographically, like Chapstick. Many of the brands are legacy companies that are appealing to Gen Z through methods like one-day shipping, socially inclusive campaigns, social media and appealing to emotion.

Instagram joins the list of Gen Z’s favorite brands at 15 along with social media-friendly brands like Dunkin’ Donuts at 18, Disney at 24 and IHOP at 25. The male and female lists closely resemble each other with a few exceptions, such as Sony on the male list at 13 and Bath & Body Works claiming the fourth spot among women.

White Gen Zers rank Pixar, Hershey’s, Dairy Queen and UPS as some of their favorite brands, and Hispanics rank Apple, Starbucks, Playstation and Vans among theirs. African Americans include Bath & Body Works, Frosted Flakes, Gatorade, Apple, Xbox, Foot Locker and Adidas on their list of favorites.

Among conservatives, PayPal, Adidas, UPS and Wendy’s make the list, whereas liberals prefer Pixar, Apple and Starbucks. Moderates also count PayPal among their favorites but also include Gatorade and Dairy Queen. Among the urban demographic, Pixar, Apple, and Target are some of the favorites, while in the suburbs, its Apple again but Bath & Body Works, Best Buy and Chik-fil-A as well. In rural areas, UPS, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut round out the list.

Some of the brands on the list make a lot of sense, whether it’s because of their social media presence or campaigns that encapsulate what they’re all about. A report from marketing agency Day One breaks down why brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and Nike are resonating with Gen Zers. The report cites Dunkin’s use of Facebook Live in 2016, for example, to show how new recipes are made as a way of including Gen Z in the process, as opposed to creating FOMO, and Nike showcasing behind-the-scenes content for its equality campaign in 2018.

“Support from Gen Z can make or break a brand; we have an unrivaled ability to rally behind the things we like and boycott things we don’t,” said Simone Saidmehr, a former intern at Day One and a Gen Zer. “That said, brands need to understand that authenticity will get them further with our generation than trying to jump on the cultural Gen Z bandwagon.”

Day One’s report further states that brands need to not only use the latest social media features but also get their messaging right or “get canceled.”

“As social media continues to change and reshape what activists look like for the next generation of consumers, it’s critical for brands and marketers to understand that for my generation, advocating for change is a social experience,” said Sophie Krieger, an account executive at Day One. “To stay in the conversation, be part of the change.”


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@itstheannmarie annmarie.alcantara@adweek.com Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.
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