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What’s It Like Being 20™? – Chapter 3: Brand Affinity

What’s it Like Being 20™? – Chapter 3: Brand Affinity

The 3rd installment from an enlightening study of 20-year-olds and their attitudes, behaviors, and feelings about their world and future.

This release examines Brand Affinities. Which brands and categories do 20-year-olds connect best with and what is driving that connection? What gets a brand on a “top 5 favorite” list?

A brand, whose “truth” someone simply connects with on a personal, emotional, visceral – human – level. The “Brand Truth.” They hear the name; they see the logo; they have a consistently positive experience and they just know the brand “gets” them. And they are loyal to the brand for it. That’s brand affinity.

We asked 20-year-old men and women – 210 of them from across the country – what their top 5 favorite brands are – no limits, no categories, just across-the-board favorites. We got an avalanche of answers – some 266 different brand mentions. Maybe that speaks to an overall inconsistency, lack of loyalty or ability to penetrate – or perhaps it reflects a fierce individuality across the cohort.

But it most certainly speaks to the massive choices that the 20-year-old consumer has across a wide range of categories and importantly, to an amazing strength and dominance of those five brands that made the list as the “G.O.A.T.” (“greatest of all time”) among this valuable, often mysterious and complex demographic.

Footwear-Fashion brands have a big footprint

With two brands dominating the top five favorites in this category, the lines blur between fashion and athletic functionality. This underscores the connection 20-year-olds have with what they wear and how that conveys who they are, how they are perceived and even what and who they support and believe in. But performance doesn’t take a backseat. These brands also DO it.

Nike “Just did it!”

It was the single most-often mentioned brand of the 266 total brands named overall, capturing the top spot in 20-year-olds’ hearts. This is a testament to the brand’s ability to stay relevant – or in Gen-Z slang, “sick” or “hard” – across generations. A brand born in the early 70’s, Nike quickly established relevance with Gen X as a brand that helps empower, inspire, and achieve. Millennials continued to carry the Nike torch. Now the world’s largest sportswear manufacturer has clearly achieved a strong foothold as a favorite of Gen Z for its functionality, quality, leadership and follow-through.

  • “The reason I like Nike is because the company talks about what you can do and then makes quality products to help you do it.” – Laura
  • “I just always love Nike for sports I play, like softball. It looks good, and it’s always good quality clothing.” – Lisa
  • “When it comes to sports stuff or athletic, I really only use Nike. And that’s just because like I like the brand and the quality is good. – Catherine
  • “You know, getting gear from Nike, wearing Nike stuff constantly. I’ve kind of been raised by that and I’ve been so used to it. I’ve become accustomed to it and now I just, I can’t see myself wearing anything else.” – Pont

The three stripes take #3:

Adidas, the arch-rival of Nike and the second largest manufacturer of sportswear in the world, also has managed to transcend generations and achieve saliency among today’s 20-year-olds. It was the third most mentioned “Top 5” brand.

Tech and digital brands round out the Top 5 favorites

Apple takes its bite as the #2 brand mentioned most across the top five favorites. Amazon and Samsung followed, ranking a very strong #4 and #5.

  • “I just got into their eco-system to the point where I just love Apple – all of their stuff. I just love how they all connect, my Apple watch, my phone…they make my life easier.” – Cole N.
  • “Yeah, Amazon is amazing. I just feel like they have like – at least for an interface, a model for others to follow. Cole P
  • “And I feel like there’s a lot of similar items on Amazon…so you can compare styles and prices.” – Irene

Although there’s affinity for these tech/digital brands, there’s also a concern about where technology is taking society (to be covered in more depth in an upcoming installment).

  • “…technology is getting so big and t’s not going to stop, it’d be insane –like industrialization. Like a lot of jobs are going towards automation, and lot of things are going to be robots. It’s not talked about enough how much technology and automation is going to take over in the next couple years. – Sabrina

Honesty. Responsibility. Trust.

For Gen Z-ers the B.S. bar is super low. They want to trust brands and expect honesty at every turn – and being responsible for their “actions.” With recent experiences of “influencers” gone bad, they’re feeling more jaded and less willing to simply accept and tolerate.

  • “Like if you’re just using a celebrity to endorse a product and that’s how they’re getting a bunch of customers, that’s not really honest. Is it a good product or is it just like it’s going to be popular because they’re really famous?” – Irene
  • “I hate when a brand will make a mistake or let you down and act like it’s okay and just keep going.” – Jose
  • “It hurts me to know that somebody is reading off a script.” – Luca

Deliver on The Brand Promise.

Once expectations are created, the brand is expected to deliver – consistently. Performance counts and builds loyalty. They take their brand decisions seriously.

  • “When I see one of these (favorite) brands, I’m thinking I know what I’m getting, and I don’t have to worry that I’m wasting my money on it.” – Mike
  • “Just because…you always have a decision to make. Regardless of if you say, ‘’m going to listen to what this person told me or I’m going to make decision A over decision B’… l you always have a choice and a decision to make.” –Tamia

Next up in the “Being 20™” Series: Life Philosophies – What’s it all about?

20-year-olds reveal their philosophies towards life, what’s really important to them, their personal platforms and their plans for living them out.

Our “Being 20™” series: As Consumer Truth® celebrated 20 years of Truth Discovery™, we wondered about today’s consumers who were born when our business was created. A group that’s on the precipice of adulthood, straddling the end of the Millennial generation and the beginning of Gen Z. How do they perceive their world and future and what are the implications for marketers? To find out more, we launched a proprietary study among this specific age group. We want to share the results, to provide valuable insight and understanding to better inform strategy, communication and connection with today’s 20-year-old and the Gen Z generation.

Our research partners in executing the “Being 20™” study:
Quantitative study fielded; tabs provided by Dynata
Qualitative: Respondents provided by Find Your Influence

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