New survey data from Morning Consult has discovered the brands most favored by Gen Z, something I know you’ve all been dying to know. Taken between May and August of this year from a cohort numbering 16,053 U.S. adults, 2,031 of which were identified as being born between 1997 and 2004 (Gen Z), and believe it or not, they are now old enough as a generation to matter to businesses.

So, knowing that this group is the first to grow up in a digital age, it will no longer be surprising to recognize the deep effect digital platforms have had on them. What do I mean? Well, mainly, back before the internet, and well before apps and widespread rewards programs, if you asked someone between the ages of 15 and 20 what their favorite or most trusted brands were, you would most likely get an answer filled mostly with clothing companies, record companies, or big-name tech companies.

Not so today. Half of the 20 brands most favored by Gen Z are food brands:

(Shown with their rank number)

  • (5) M&M’s
  • (8) Doritos
  • (9) Kit Kat
  • (10) Oreo
  • (11) Gatorade
  • (13) Cheetos
  • (15) Sprite
  • (16) Pringles
  • (17) Capri Sun
  • (19) Skittles

Interesting, right? For instance, why Sprite and not the Coca-Cola Company? Why Kit Kat and not Hershey? Well, because nowadays, individual brands like Doritos and Oreo live separately from their parent companies within the Gen Z imagination. And why not? These brands are singularly accessible through your phones. The reason clothing companies dominated branding in the 80’s and 90’s is because you could wear it and hang out in the stores. In other words, you could immerse yourself in them.

Just the same, today you can rack up rewards for eating Doritos. You can watch videos on YouTube showcasing Kit Kat and Cheetos hooked up with celebrities. The digital nature of modern marketing provides more intimacy with “fun” food brands, creating a world within which younger generations can be immersed.

Now, the only question is why M&M’s are within the top five most loved brands, coming directly after Amazon and within the same breath as Google, YouTube, and Netflix. I mean, they beat out Walmart and Target! Odd, very odd, but I’m afraid it will have to wait for another article.