"Gen Y's" Top 15 Most Trusted Brands

As much as we hate to fall back on sad concepts such as “Gen Y”, Reader Plaid sent us an interesting list of the top 15 most trusted brands among new consumers aged 21-27. According to the research firm that put together the survey, the youngish are drawn to brands that speak to them in a “straightforward and stripped-down way, use plain packaging, and avoid excess,” Personally, we don’t find this surprising as we (and most of the people we know ) are suffering from some sort of extreme marketing exhaustion as a result of being young during the 80s and 90s.

Plaid says, “I have to admit, I do prefer many of the brands on the list. However, as a marketing minor in undergrad, I’m kinda appalled that I’ve fallen for their marketing schemes.” It’s OK, buddy. Those Red Stripe commercials are too awesome to resist. Plus, the beer is good. Brand list inside.

The Most Trusted 15 brands named by the trendsetters in the survey were:

Trader Joe’s
Jet Blue
In-N-Out Burger
Ben & Jerry’s
Whole Foods
American Apparel
H & M clothing stores
Vitamin Water
Red Stripe Jamaican beer


Reign Of The Plain: Survey Finds Gen Ys Prefer Brand Simple [MediaPost]


Edit Your Comment

  1. chimmike says:

    Target and Levi’s are the only ones I’ve really bought from.

    My recent experience with VW reliability and customer service have shyed me away from them incredibly, and I’m probably the last person on earth that doesn’t own an Ipod.

  2. @chimmike: Not the only person in the world, maybe the 2nd person in the world without an Ipod…

    I’m aged 21-27 and I do love Trader Joes… but the rest??? I don’t get it.

  3. B says:

    I thought American Apparel wasn’t hip anymore.

  4. winnabago says:

    @chimmike: I think the point of the study is to determine the value of a name, not the products themselves. Even if you don’t have an iPod (I don’t either), then you must have some sense of it, good or bad.

  5. niccernicus says:

    Apple is sooooo good at advertising, I’m almost considering buying one of their computers, even though I don’t need one and they’re a bit more pricey than a similar PC. (debatable, I know)

  6. categorically says:

    Its all the big advertisers on that list. Shows how easy Generation Y is to manipulate. All us Generation X folks are rolling over in our graves.

  7. ShadeWalker says:

    what does it say about me when i don’t like any of those companies and i’m 21-27? i’m a tool of no one’s except my own!

  8. wikkit says:

    Most of these are brands I find too pretentious to patronize (ie: American Apparel’s stupid Calvin Klein esque ads, VW’s refrigerated glove compartments, Whole Foods in it’s entirety, .etc).

    Target and JetBlue would be on my list for selling a good product at a good price.

  9. tormolen says:

    I don’t know about rolling over in our graves. I’m Gen Y, and I love JetBlue, TJ’s and Target, and have planned to visit In-n-Out on my honeymoon. You can keep Whole Foods, though.

  10. kerry says:

    At 28 I’m a skosh older than this demographic, but the list seems like nothing new for the most part. When I was in college Apple, Adidas, VW, Target, Converse, Ben & Jerry’s and (to a lesser extent) Whole Foods were all the universally loved and trusted brands. I’ve since become a total Trader Joe’s convert, but my boyfriend prefers the consistency of Whole Foods, even if the prices make him angry. Guess he’s just old skool.
    What’s really weird is I think I’ve seen maybe 2 Red Stripe TV ads, but I still managed to get sucked in by the ad campaign through word of mouth. I am about 5 times more likely to buy Red Stripe than I was a few years ago. I used to buy it sometimes, now I buy it pretty frequently, due to the word of mouth generated by their ad campaign. Even those of us who block ads online and skip through them on TV still get affected by them.

  11. Scuba Steve says:

    I’m 24, and I Loath all things in this demographic.

    But then again it could just be rebelliousness, or the fact that I’m one of those oh so common “Jobless” 24 year olds.

  12. wezelboy says:

    I don’t get Red Stripe.

    The commercials are great but the beer is crappy.

  13. gopher646 says:

    As a 24 year old, I am heavily drawn to all of those companies. Maybe it’s because of my location in NYC, and I’m exposed to way too much advertising on a daily basis here.

    I think that Target, VW and Apple are the champs at advertising. I want to buy their products and I don’t even know why… Scary.

  14. @AngrySicilian: Possibly the third person without one.

    I’d never even heard of Trader Joe’s before coming to the Consumerist web site (or Whole Foods for that matter).

    I have shopped at Target, though not recently. That’s it for the companies/products listed. (I’m in the demographic, btw.

  15. virgilstar says:

    Target is just Wal-Mart for snobs. Their slogan should be “slightly better looking plastic crap made in China that you don’t need”.

  16. TVarmy says:

    A lot of these are ones that aren’t around me. Was this from the Bay Area or something? I agree with most of the list, but I’d replace Volkswagon with Toyota, because Toyota has earned my respect the right way for a car company: Good mileage, good reliability, nice design, and decent customer service (From my dealer at least).

  17. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    As a Gen Y-er (I had no idea that’s what I was), I wouldn’t look at this list as brands that I “like” or “dislike”, but moreso those that have ingratiated themselves into my generation’s lives the heaviest, have made a killing on marketing the most to my demographic, or are most recognizable. Correct, not everyone in my age group is going to know all brands, but I don’t think that’s what this list is about, per se…

    These are the brands that market toward us the most, in the grand scheme of thing. Like them or hate them, that’s what this list is about…in my opinion at least. :)

  18. Gloria says:

    Most of these brands I don’t know, being in Canada, but American Apparel? Really? I hate their shirts — are inconsistently sized, shrink, and seem to be cut for skinny hipsters — as well as their ads, which are creepily sleazy.

  19. flyover says:

    Most people in their 20s can only afford cheap crap – at least Target’s is somewhat attractive.

    I am borderline X/Y and feel the same about this list.

    In n Out on the list makes me think this is definitely location skewed as it isn’t widely available throughout the entire nation.

  20. amazon says:

    Ben&Jerry’s advertise? Who knew.

  21. QuietMan says:

    Most trusted brands?

    Or brands that are currently perceived as being the coolest?

    (And I don’t own an iPod either.)

  22. Terminixsux says:

    If only Apple didn’t have the swarmy spokeman on their Apple/PC ads, I might think more of them. If I ever met that guy, and he pulled that self-satisfied “I’m better than you” crap, I’d slap him silly and shove his apple up his iHole. I like VW, as they make a nice small line of vehicles that always seem to be comparable to more expensive vehicles. Toyotas are reliable, but mostly boring. I think Levis are timeless and will always be in style, and the rest are OK, but I don’t see them as iconographic or more trusted.

  23. enm4r says:

    American Apparel?

    And here I was, thinking Ikea would make the list.

  24. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Yeah, I don’t get how In-N-Out got on that list. They only have locations in California and Nevada. Was this survey taken in California only? Or does all of Gen-Y live on the West Coast?

  25. MarkMadsen'sDanceInstructor says:

    Darn. Here I think I’m a media savvy Gen Y-er, and now I learn that I’m still being taken advantage of, just by a smarter marketing strategy. I think I have a good opinion of most of those companies, but I agree with the prior poster, take out VW and add on Toyota.

  26. @Terminixsux: There needs to be an iHole t-shirt RIGHT NOW!!

  27. noneother says:

    i’d agree with jeff (not just because he’s from LA) in that i would trust a lot of these companies as well, and i have a high opinion of most. but American Apparel isn’t hip by itself anymore, it’s mostly just a good brand to buy before slapping your own crap on the shirt.

  28. arelys521 says:

    Marketing schemes? I don’t know about that. A couple of these are pretty big advertisers (Target, Apple, VW), but overall these are just strong brands with strong reputations. The only way to get that: offer a quality product and actually deliver it.

    I think this list just proves how freaking smart us 21-27 year olds really are. Oh, man, are we savvy.

  29. Yeah I’m surprised by American Apparel too. All I’ve ever heard friends say about it is more or less, “Kudos ‘n all for not using sweatshop labor, but trading one form of exploitation (labor) for another (pornographic ads featuring the selfsame laborers) isn’t acceptible.”

  30. traezer says:

    Vitamin Water? What the hell? Buy some water, buy a bottle of vitamins, and save yourself a butt load of money. (sorry, I hate flavored water with a passion)

  31. Bradley says:

    I like target….you have to pay a ‘no poors tax’, but then you dont have to put up with dirty shelves, stocking while youre trying to get to an item and a company that aspires for world domination (ie Walmart).

  32. Citron says:

    American Apparel, please. I go in there and feel like I’m in Myspace: The Store. Those pictures they have everywhere are just over the top pretentious.

    Plus, I’m not keen on paying $30 for a solid colored cotton t-shirt I could get with a cute, quirky print from Threadless for half that price.

    But I think more accurately, the list is of the trendiest brands, not the most trusted. As much as I and everyone else on the planet loves H&M, we all know their clothes are cheap and won’t last you more than a couple years. (which is fine, given how disposable fashions are anyway)

  33. kerry says:

    @traezer: Some of the Vitamin Water flavors are tastier than their Gatorade equivalents, so I’ll often pick it over the competition. I loathe the name, though, since once you start adding crap to water it stops being water and starts being a soft drink. I really dislike the flavored Dasani because it tastes like ass. The lemonade, tropical, and citrus varieties of Vitamin Water are quite tasty, though, and comparable to Gatorade in electrolyte and calorie content.

  34. strathmeyer says:

    That list is hilarious, no matter how you look at it.

  35. strathmeyer says:

    @traezer: Vitamin Water is a brand; they come in flavors, just like gatorade; 50 calories/13g sugar per 8 oz… oh, and vitamins!

  36. sirgrunwald says:

    Being right in the middle of the demographic, I can’t say that I agree. Apple and VW are overrated, Ben & Jerry’s is too expensive, Red Stripe is disgusting. I don’t live anywhere near a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or In-N-Out Burger, so I can’t really vouch for them. I love Target, though, and I’m registering there for my wedding.

    At least Armani and Versace aren’t on there.

  37. Looking at that list made me realize how much I only shop from Mom and Pop stores [local], and/or boutique-ish small brands. Then again, I am a Gen X-er.

  38. jvandub says:

    Apple: Solid comps.

    Trader Joe’s: Excellent priced merchandise.

    Jet Blue: If they flew to more destinations.

    In-N-Out Burger: Who else has these except Cali?

    Ben & Jerry’s: Delish

    Whole Foods: Overpriced.

    Adidas: Word em up. Those Germans know how to make a shoe.

    American Apparel: Expensive but good ethics.

    Target: Cool commercial… douche.

    H & M clothing stores: Nice and cheap but can only find about 2 things that are worth buying when I stop in.

    Levi’s: Noice Noice

    Volkswagen: Real cool douche.

    Converse: FTW? Who wears these?

    Vitamin Water: delicious

    Red Stripe Jamaican beer: overrated

  39. VW, Converse, Apple, American Apparel, Whole Foods…

    that has “emo” written all over it :-P

  40. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @LittleJoe: DEATH TO EMO…….!

  41. doormat says:

    26 and I really cant say I dont like any of those companies, but I’m indifferent to about half of them. Otherwise, Apple, In-n-Out, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Vitamin Water are the only ones I patronize. I’d patronize Jet Blue if Southwest didnt have their huge presence at LAS. I do like Delta too.

  42. coreyander says:

    I don’t think this is really an index of the Most Trustworthy companies so much as a roster of the Least Untrustworthy. Of course, you would never see a marketing rag frame it in quite those terms.

    So it probably isn’t surprising that the Gen Y readership here (myself included) doesn’t feel especially cuddly about most of these companies. Nevertheless, we patronize them. Why? Because they aren’t as untrustworthy as Microsoft, Walmart, MCDonalds, Nike, Kroger, Budweiser, Ford, United Airlines, etc.

    I’m by no means a cheerleader for any of these brands, but I absolutely buy stuff at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, American Apparel, and Target and have been known to suck up the Vitamin Water and Ben & Jerry’s (the Stephen Colbert flavor is damn good…) while listening to an iPod. Red Stripe, though? Gag me. That shit is rank.

  43. abakua says:

    Who conducted the survey? Who paid for it? What assumptions did they incorporate in their design? As a member of the supposed universe which this study claims to illuminate, I can say that, of the brands my peers chose, I more or less “trust” Apple and Levi’s, not because of their marketing strategies but because they make and sell high-quality durable goods at reasonable prices. For those same reasons I trust local independent book and record shops throughout America and the UK, Larrivee guitars and Anthony Lane’s movie reviews in The New Yorker. I am struck, by the way, by the apparent absence of Japanese and European brands. An example of Yank provincialism?

  44. longshot says:

    This is a terribly unrepresentative summation of popular culture of those 15-30 years of age. It is the opinion of the loud and well-off majority. Most of what you read is a west coast fascination. And I think we can all agree that red-stripe is pretty terrible beer.

  45. erock0 says:

    *Read only 100 panelists from SF, LA NYC and Miami. This is a very good indicator but regional chains like In-N-Out are barely even known by people East of Las Vegas. Craving one now :(

  46. Peeved Guy says:

    Clearly I am waaay too old to be counted in this demographic. The Target ads they show on TV makes me think of doing violence on their marketing department and I think Red Stripe tastes like goat piss (don’t ask). Fat Tire or Laughing Lab = good, Red Stripe = bad

  47. licksick says:

    Converse is owned by Nike, and Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Dreyers. And I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
    How many hip young kids blast Nike for using sweatshops while wearing Converse? Who knows?

    Big thanks to websites like this one for exposing us all to the bulls@#!t these companies try to pull.

  48. TomK says:

    Among 20something college crowds, every single person thinks apple is good and microsoft and dell suck. All of them.

  49. Mr. Gunn says:

    TomK: You couldn’t me more wrong. “straightforward and stripped-down” is the antithesis of Apple, whose products are bought by those without the technical knowledge to build their own or to want a more user-configurable system.

    In other news, whoever came up with the whole Gen Y thing failed biology. Generation Klinefelter for the win!

  50. strandist says:

    Or not. Apple’s marketing and track record with performance and litigation drives me far enough away from them that I would not even consider spending a single dollar in one of their stores or on one of their products. They’ve marked themselves as a company who will sue the living daylights out of someone who even remotely violates their trade dress or trademarks but cry victim when the tables are turned. And that’s me… a 20-something college student.

    Hooray for generalizations!

  51. creativecstasy says:

    I’m at the younger end of the “Gen Y” range, and this fits pretty well for me-

    Apple – fangirl, no lies here
    Trader Joe’s – they basically get my entire paycheck
    Jet Blue – they don’t fly where I go, but I would if given the chance
    In-N-Out Burger – frequent customer
    Ben & Jerry’s – I’ve got a couple pints in my freezer
    Whole Foods – There aren’t any around here, but I have nothing against them.
    Adidas – meh
    American Apparel – the products I have from them are good quality
    Target –
    H & M clothing stores – never heard of ’em
    Levi’s – wearing a pair right now.
    Volkswagen – I don’t drive
    Converse – I’m over them
    Vitamin Water – meh
    Red Stripe Jamaican beer – never had it

    so it’s half right

  52. Mogbert says:

    I’m Gen-y, so how come I don’t even know half the things on that list. I’m oging to have to google it. I haven’t flown since Jet Blue started. I have an iPod, but I don’t like/trust Apple (seen too many of them break at work). I’ve purchased from Target twice in the last five years. I prefer Mayfield to Ben and Jerry’s, Honda to VW, Rockport over Adidas and Converse.
    Most of the rest, I’ve never heard of.

    Do I have to turn in my Gen-Y Card now? Or, like a bunch of others here, do we unite and say this list is a bunch of hooey!

  53. chandler in hollywood says:

    American Apparel – you gotta love a founder that masturbates whenever and in front of whomever he likes. Or so Gawker told me.

  54. Dwayne Provecho says:

    I’m still waiting for someone to adequately explain to me the appeal of Jamaican Red Stripe to 21-27 y.o.’s. Is ironic detachment involved somehow? (Or am I thinking of my own cohort, Gen X? I mean, why else did I spend the 90s drinking Manischewitz?)

    Let me also register my disappointment in the Young People Of Today in their “trusting” Whole Foods.

  55. smackswell says:

    Red Stripe? Are you fucking kidding me?

    Gen-Y consumes micro brewskies.

    These guys clearly weren’t even trying.

  56. AbstractConcept says:

    have to agree with that. Microsfot had a great ad for Vista, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately considering how it works) I only saw the ad ran once.

  57. AbstractConcept says:

    21 yr old, Massachusetts opinion:

    Apple – I like them from experience.. Reliable, virus free, and very smooth

    Trader Joe’s – they’re alright.. not much selection

    Jet Blue – never used, probably would

    In-N-Out Burger – my friends say great things, but I’ve never been to one.. not around here

    Ben & Jerry’s – good ice cream, but too fatty

    Whole Foods – high prices, good products, I support them

    Adidas – almost as bad as nike.

    American Apparel – no opinion.. I don’t even know what they sell

    Target – I like them because they arent walmart and their cheap and they have awesome products.. geared towards us because its things we like for cheap… why not?

    H & M clothing stores – huh?

    Levi’s – no thanks… I prefer Lucky or better yet a cheap thrift store that isn’t the Salvation Army

    Volkswagen – I’m considering buying one, but I trust Honda’s and Toyota’s more.

    Converse – Aren’t they owned by Addidas or Nike now?? Used to support, not anymore

    Vitamin Water – Propel is much much better…

    Red Stripe Jamaican beer –

  58. hsharp says:

    As a fellow Gen Y, I agree with the feelings above. I am in a graduate class looking at Gen Y and wondering what brands people are passionate about. Do you mind sharing with me?