These brands made Gen Z’s top 10 list. Is yours one of them?

By BNC Marketing

We know that Generation Z is a caring and compassionate lot, valuing diversity and individualism and boldly taking on responsibility for social causes. So, when we asked the college-aged subgroup of this generation about their favorite brands, we wanted to learn to what extent their values factored into their brand preferences.

Barnes & Noble College reached out to our Student POV panel of 15,000 college students from across the US, and asked: What brand do you consider yourself most loyal to – and why?

Overwhelmingly, Gen Z favors brands that share their values. Beyond that they look for reliability, consistent quality and great customer service. Exceptional value and affordability were other common attributes of their favorites.


Adidas offers clothing and footwear that lasts and makes those who wear it feel good – thanks to great style and powerful corporate message.

“I love their company and their meaning.”

“My socks are Adidas and I love how they support my foot and they are heavy duty. My running shoes are from there as well and they have lasted me 2 years.”


Ubiquity, quality of products, comfortable environment, and the ability to customize drinks puts Starbucks on this list. Gen Z applauds the coffee giant’s rewards program and friendly staff.

“They have a great rewards program, I love their stuff, and I always leave happy.”

“It’s has great coffee, tea, environment is always nice and relaxing.”

“They are able to customize my drink in any way I see fit and their staff is very friendly at every location I’ve been to.”


Loyalty spans across product lines given Samsung’s reliability and consistent quality – all at an attractive price.

“I have loved my Samsung phones. I have the Note 8, a Wearable Gear S2, and a TV. They have great product reliability.”

“Their products are pretty reliable and a little more affordable than their top competitor.”


A tech company they trust and rely upon, Microsoft continues to deliver product consistency and reliability to Generation Z.

“Consistently good software and hardware.”

“They have really good products and I have never had a major issue working with them. Good, reliable, and inexpensive. Lots of options. I love their ability to have full running windows, which can run exe applications in tablets.”

This retail favorite brings convenience, affordability, and everything a Gen Z shopper needs, all under one roof.

“They have everything: clothing, food, medicine, and more under one brand and it won’t break your bank.”

“I am loyal to this brand because I always shop there. When I need something or think of something, I am always sure that Target will have it. Most of the time they have what I need, and their store-brand is always an affordable and easy option.”



This brand is forever delighting the Generation Z consumer with its range of styles sold at an affordable price point.

“Great quality of clothing and great prices. Offers coupons regularly.”

“The clothes are affordable, and they have so many options that no matter your style you can find something you enjoy.”



While college students are grounded in the present, with an eye on the future, they still have a nostalgic soft spot for the past. Nintendo fills that need with a consistently high quality product.

“I’ve been playing video games since I was a little kid. My first video game console I ever got was a Nintendo. The technology has changed over the years, but the brand is still the same.” 

“I have many positive memories of their products that aren’t replicated elsewhere for me.”


Reliable, consistent quality and a wide range of sizes and styles is how Gen Z college students view American Eagle products. They’re applauded for their attentive in-store shopper assistance and popular customer rewards program. And just as their clothes fit all shapes and sizes, their social campaign fosters the strength of individuality.

“They offer good quality clothing in a variety of sizes that fit a curvy girl like myself, perfectly. Most of their clothes last a lifetime and can be worn across all seasons, so it cuts down the need to spend money on new clothes. They also offer a great rewards program.”

“They stick to their values. American Eagle pride itself on celebrating individuality, and their second brand, Aerie, empowers people to love their bodies, primarily through their #AerieREAL campaign.”


Nike is a winner because of its solid quality, sustainability, and wide-range of products for all sports enthusiasts. The firm is also applauded for their stance on diversity and social issues.

“They make good, quality shoes that last a long time.”

“They make a wide range of well-made products (shoes, socks, other clothes, etc.). Their stuff usually looks nice as well.”

“I love the diversity and the attempt Nike does to reach everyone and every cause within their different campaigns. They take risks and I appreciate that from a company.”


From a utilitarian standpoint, Apple is loved for making students’ lives easier with its user-friendly technology and seamless integration. It’s viewed as cutting edge tech, reliable, and feature-rich. Apple is also considered to be a very socially conscious company respecting diversity, winning the hearts of Gen Z, who share similar views.

“Great products that make life easier.”

“I love this brand because it allows me to access everything I need from multiple devices that connect. They make consistently high-quality goods. I love how smoothly it works.”

“I like Tim Cook a lot – he is a model CEO. Apple is a company that has shown continuous support for LGBTQ+ people, which is very important to me.”


Want more insights into the hearts and minds of Generation Z? You might like these articles:

To learn more about how Barnes & Noble College’s media network can help get your brand Gen Z’s top list, give us a shout.

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