Updated Feb 10, 2024 - Business

Young people more likely to buy brands backed by famous people

Data: YPulse; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: YPulse; Chart: Axios Visuals

Celebrities and influencers create a "coolness" halo effect with Gen Z and millennial consumers, according to a recent survey by YPulse, a youth research organization.

Why it matters: 69% of 13 to 39-year-olds say they are more likely to purchase brands that are considered cool, which is especially true in the age of the social media marketplace.

  • Brands affiliated with celebrities stand out more to 18 to 24-year-olds than younger or older consumers, MaryLeigh Bliss, YPulse's chief content officer, told Axios.

State of play: "When a celebrity that they like launches a brand, it gives it instant 'cool' because the popularity is baked into it," Bliss says. But standards are still high.

  • Consumers in the 18 to 39-year-old age range had a high affinity for Rihanna's Fenty Beauty and Savage X Fenty, both considered high quality and inclusive.
  • Kim Kardashian's shapewear and clothing brand SKIMS grew in popularity from 2022 to 2023.

By the numbers: YPulse tracks consumer affinity for over 1,200 brands in its report and examines specific metrics like "cool-ness" — which is defined as "unique and stands out from their competitors."

  • Top brands for 13 to 17-year-old consumers were TikTok, Nike and YouTube.
  • Top brands for 18 to 24-year-old consumers were Nike, Fenty Beauty and Jordan.
  • Top brands for 25 to 39-year-old consumers were Nike, Savage x Fenty and YouTube.

Zoom in: According to Gen Z and millennials, brands that keep up with trends and try new things are most likely to be considered cool.

  • YouTube enabled video content creation. Fenty Beauty embraced inclusion, and Nike made athletic wear cool.
  • It continues to keep up with trends, whether through metaverse activations or collaborations with luxury brands, per the YPulse report.
  • Now, TikTok and YouTube are competing for viewers' attention and interaction. (TikTok is the #1 coolest brand to 13-17-year-olds, and #5 for 13-39-year-olds.)

Of note: Teens between 13 and 17 years old are more likely than older age groups to say that diversity and inclusion efforts show that a brand is cool.

The intrigue: Nike, ranked the No. 1 cool brand, has become the gold standard for athleisure, a work-from-home uniform, Bliss says.

  • "Young consumers consider Nike luxury," Bliss says. "It's on the higher end of sportswear because they're wearing this day-to-day and they're getting a lot of the basics from Walmart and Target."
  • The sportswear is highly esteemed across groups, including parents, people of color and LGBTQ respondents.

Separately, Apple's regular innovation means that products across its ecosystem (Apple Pay, iPhone and AirPods) remain cool.

  • "Being in a state of constant beta, for that brand, is something that continues to make this generation feel they're cool," Bliss says.
  • Other tech and experiential highlights were PlayStation, Amazon, Cash App and Instagram.

What they're saying: "The brands at the top of the ranking have broken molds in Gen Z and millennial's lifetime and are constantly trying new things—which we know is the biggest influencer of who they think is cool," YPulse said in the report.

The bottom line: Consumers can have similar takeaways from brands across fields — tech, retail, beauty, packaged goods and gaming.

  • "We see a real mix of industries when it comes to this cool diagnostic," Bliss says. "And I do think it speaks to opportunity."

Go deeper: Gen Z's favorite brands, revealed

Editor's note: The chart has been corrected to reflect that YPulse's Brand Tracker had a sample of 129,605 people, not 1,500.

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