A top critique of college students is that they are fickle with the brands they choose to associate with. However, well established brands and newer ones alike both make an appearance on the latest release of YouGov BrandIndex latest survey. As one might expect, Facebook and Netflix reign on top of the list, with Facebook obtaining a score of 83.5% and Netflix 75.8%. Surprisingly, the rest of the top 5 spots are filled by southern grocer H-E-B, Walmart and Victoria’s Secret.
YouGov obtains this information to measure brand health on 16 different measures across 32 global markets. 2017’s ranking varies from 2016 because separate distinctions were created for awareness of advertising efforts, positive word of mouth, peer influence from family, friends, news and buzz. YouGov’s CEO Ted Marzili coins these terms “inside baseball” for the industry.
“Brands and media tend to think of paid versus earned exposure,” he said. “Paid is generated from ads, whereas word of mouth is earned because it’s people being ambassadors, talking up your brand, and not being paid to do that.” Word of mouth is an extremely dynamic measure because it can reversely negatively impact a brand’s reputation, as seen April with news about United.
Half of the brands on the list are dominating in the technology industry: Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, Snapchat and Amazon, which is starting to close the gap between software serves and retail.
“One way I can interpret that data is those brands are making life easier; some would say better,” says Marzilli. “If those brands rank highly among college students generating word of mouth, they fulfill an important need in people’s lives. What comes to mind for me is that it makes life easier or facilitates connectedness, or being able to purchase or share things.”
For example, Netflix is a good example of a brand leveraging the Internet to make streaming television shows and movies easier. It is an integral part of a college student’s daily routine.
Value is also a critical component, as demonstrated by Walmart and H-E-B. “Walmart may be becoming cool again among a generation of millennials living more thriftily, who don’t have the same prospects as a generation 15 or 20 years ago.”
H-E-B was a surprising entry, because it is localized grocery brand in the southern part of the United States. It is an outlier because it is not national or local, but it made the list due to the fact that is doing a great job resonating with the college students demographic.
The biggest themes behind the top brands revolve around the concepts of convenience and value. It is important to note all brands have the opportunity to resonate with college student consumers: they just must be able to continuously provide value and stay relevant to consumers’ lives.