Forbes: Top Five Loved Millennial Brands

Nike, LG, Coca-Cola, Samuel Adams And Bacardi Winning With Millennials; Eight Secrets They Know That You Don't

by Jeff Fromm, Contributor

Photo by visualspace/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by visualspace/iStock / Getty Images

As we make our way into December, the holiday spirit and rumblings of New Years resolutions are filling the air. For many marketers, those resolutions are focused specifically on winning bigger with the millennial generation in 2015. Already one of the most powerful demographics in our market today, the buying power and influence of the millennial cohort will only continue to increase in 2015. Unfortunately, gaining the attention of the millennial consumer can be a tough task, but it is imperative to any business hoping to succeed in today’s market. The big question lingering in most CMO’s minds as we wrap up Q4 is, “how can we better connect with and engage those pesky millennials?”

In order to help provide an answer to that million-dollar question, FutureCast took a deep dive into understanding what the top 20 millennial brands are and why they are winning with consumers aged 18-34 (you can get the complete complimentary Millennial Marketing Top 20 list at The Millennial Marketing Top 20 list features research acquired from BERA Brand Management, Forrester and the YouGov Brand Index. The list includes brands from a variety of markets including restaurant, retail, CPG and travel.  The brands highlighted in the report are best case examples of how to not only generate sales within a younger audience but how to also turn millennials into brand fans and advocates.

Major Trends Driving Millennial Brand Preference

1. Allow consumers to co-create products, services and experiences.

2. Leverage technology within their brand authority.

3. Act with authenticity.

4. Engage in transparency.

5. Stand for a purpose that is beyond the products you sell.

6. Act like a conscious capitalist.

7. Treat your consumer as your partner not your target audience.

8. Create real differentiation

By implementing these trends into their marketing strategies, the top 20 brands have won millennial love over the past year by implementing content excellence strategies and including the customers in the creation of the marketing, the brand experience and the product itself.  Every brand on the Top 20 List has changed its mind frame from looking at consumers as an audience and instead embracing them as consumer partners.  This new mentality has shifted the way the top brands are engaging with millennials and we predict that moving into 2015, brands that didn’t make the cut will begin emulating these widely successful millennial driven marketing tactics.

Top Five Loved Millennial Brands

1. Nike

When it comes to shoes and apparel, Nike is tops. According to our research, millennials often name Nike as their top affinity brand. Nike, which was founded in 1964 as a distributor, no longer simply sells shoes. After reinventing itself to appeal to a broader audience, Nike has become the authority on leading an athletic and healthy lifestyle. Now, its mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete through products and sponsorships – a Brand Stand that goes well beyond footwear.

2. LG

LG, which sells high-definition televisions, scored the highest out of all appliance brands with millennials. The high quality brand scores big with millennials because of its handle on creating shareworthy advertisements that enables customers to participate in an experience. Last year, for example, LG released a video prank that made its subjects think they were watching the end of the world. It went viral nearly instantly and has garnered more than three million views.

3. Coca-Cola

When it comes to engaging millennials, Coca-Cola understands it’s all about customization. For example, its Share a Coke campaign, which ran this summer, featured 250 of the most popular names among teens and millennials on 20-ounce bottles. What could be better for a millennial than to have his/her name on his bottle of Coke?

4. Sam Adams

Although it has only 1 percent of the U.S. beer market share, Samuel Adams is the top choice of millennials, who are demanding craft beer now more than ever. The brand is known for its innovative flavors, including its cider beer, Angry Orchard, but also for delivering a high- quality product. It also refused to offer bottles with screw-top caps, for example, even when U.S. airlines asked for them, saying it would compromise the quality of the beer. Instead, it gave flight attendants free bottle openers.

5. Bacardi

Launched in 1862, few brands are as old as Bacardi, but the rum brand has no problem appealing to young consumers. Instead of simply relying on old- school advertising mediums, Bacardi went digital last year, partnering with the popular music app, Shazam to show one of its videos in about 100,000 U.S. movie theaters. In an effort to convey the 151-year-old brand’s authenticity and spirit, the video highlighted the roles played by Emilio, eldest son of the brand’s founder, Don Facundo Bacardi Massó, in Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain. When the video aired before movies in theaters, moviegoers could also access additional content about the brand via Shazam on their smartphones.

Leah Swartz, writer and Millennial Account Coordinator at FutureCast, and Cherryh Butler, Trends Consultant, contributed to this post.

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For more information on marketing to Millennials, see Mindshare's report: Badge Brands and the New Millennial Identity

Posted on December 9, 2014 .