Chocolate, crisps and the internet dominate the most liked brands among the United Kingdom's 16-34 year old demographic, according to the 'Generation Y and Brand Loyalty' research report from w00t! Media. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The report, which examined the changing relationships that British consumers have with brands as they age from 16 to 34, revealed that Cadbury is the most liked brand at 82%, followed by Amazon at 78%, and Pringles, Walkers and Heinz (tied at 74%).

The top ten brands for this all-important age group is rounded out by Google and Coca-Cola (both at 73%), Galaxy chocolate (71%), and Kellogg's and Facebook (both at 70%).

"Despite all the media attention given to internet, technology and mobile brands, the top 100 overall shows Generation Y remain most fond of traditional food, drink and retail brands - which account for over half the entire list," said Dan McDevitt, w00t! Media's joint managing director.

The BBC is the favourite media/entertainment brand in 14th place overall, while McDonald's takes the honours in high-street retail (16th place). Following the top four internet brands, Apple is the leading technology/mobile brand but ranks 19th in the overall list, just a few places ahead of the most liked personal care brand, Colgate (23rd place). Nike is the favourite clothing/fashion brand (40th place) as is Smirnoff in the alcohol sector (46th place).

Visa is the only finance brand in the top 100 (51st place), and British Airways is the only travel brand (64th place), while the top car brand ranks just 75th (Audi) ahead of BMW (83rd place) and Ford (99th place).

Within Generation Y, Guinness indexed highest (141) among males (who are 41% more likely to like Guinness than the average Generation Y person). For females it is Rimmel London (171) and for 16-19 year olds it is Twitter (146). In fact, Twitter is the 35th most liked brand amongst 16-19s compared to 70th place overall. American Express is the highest indexing brand among Generation Y's who earn over £40,000 per year (an index of 325) and social group ABC1 (an index of 147).

Three key life stages
The report identified three life-stages within Generation Y and how brand preferences change:

  1. Those in the 'all about me' stage are typically 16-21 years and only need to consider brands for themselves, not having to buy for partners or kids; Snacks, fashion and the internet dominate their most liked brands.
  2. Those in the 'all about us' stage are typically 21-30 and becoming independent - moving into their first home, moving in with a partner or stepping onto the career ladder. The most liked brands here start to include more alcohol, retailer and household grocery brands such as Colgate.
  3. Those in the 'all about them' stage are 25-34 years old and are accountable to other considerations such as a partner, children or a mortgage - which trump initial personal preferences. Their brand repertoire grows considerably and more family-orientated brands such as Johnsons, Warburtons and Kellogg's appear.

"Despite being subject to the biggest life changes, no other age group is treated as such a homogenised unit by advertisers and the media as 16-34s," noted McDevitt. "The study revealed that Generation Y's relationships with brands change considerably as they move through these very different life stages."

Why brands appeal
Quality (cited by 72%) and how the product performs versus the competition (67%) are the major reasons why brands appeal to 16-34 year olds. Six out of ten (60%) said it's because the brand fits their own personality while "what the company represents appeals to me" and the "price being fair" were both cited by half of 16-34 year olds.

"Regardless of age, two common denominators emerged about why brands appeal to Generation Y - the product's perceived quality and performance. These 'functional' reasons run counter-intuitive to those who believe young adults are preoccupied with simply jumping onto the next big thing," concluded McDevitt.