How These Brands Captured Millennials' Hearts in Just 9 Months

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How quickly can a company make millennials fall in love with its brand? According to a recent study, it can take less than a year.

Two back-to-back studies by digital advertising agency Moosylvania shed light on the brands millennials love most. Last year, the company asked 500 individuals from ages 14 to 35 to list their top three favorite brands, resulting in a master list of 50 top brands. Nine months later, 1,000 more individuals were consulted, allowing Moosylvania to compare the two lists of preferred brands.

Both times, the top companies included Nike, Apple and Samsung. Most interesting, however, were the brands that shot up in the rankings in the nine-month gap. Nineteen brands, including Pizza Hut, Oreo and Wendy's, were not on the list the first time but managed to gain enough millennial support in nine months to shoot to the top 50 the second time around. The full list is below.

"The list of who jumped in the ranking was very logical as you see how they did it," says Norty Cohen, CEO of Moosylvania.

Related: Introducing the Power Users of Social Media You Want to Reach

In almost every case, brands that were new to the list had executed purposeful marketing campaigns to draw in millennials during the nine-month gap. The common thread among all of them, says Cohen, was a dedication to creating a personalized "friendship" with millennial customers.

For example, Wendy's pretzel bun ad campaign featured '90s stars like Boyz II Men and Nick Lachey singing odes to the pretzel bun inspired by fans' tweets and Facebook posts. While the ads were in a more traditional outlet – television commercials – they also utilized the more interactive aspects of social media and connected with millennials' 90s-nostaligia.

Oreo similarly tapped into personalized marketing with stunts such as the Oreo 3-D printer at South by Southwest that used Twitter to help customers customize their cookie. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut took a different angle on interactive marketing by partnering with Hulu to debut a feature that allows viewers to order pizza through Hulu's interactive advertising. 

"I think [a key aspect of advertising to millennials] is basically creating a tonality for your brand that allows you to live in a two way relationship with consumers," says Cohen. "Today, it's an opportunity for conversations."

Related: 5 Strategies to Instill Brand Loyalty in Today's Young Customers

The 19 brands that joined this year's Top 50 list were:

  1. Air Jordan (9 from 54)
  2. Pepsi (10 from 100)
  3. Macy's (16 from 275)
  4. JC Penny (18 from 59)
  5. Ford (19 from 83)
  6. Pizza Hut (21)
  7. Chevrolet (23)
  8. Verizon (27 from 373)
  9. Best Buy (28 from 142)
  10. Ralph Lauren (30 from 104)
  11. Honda (31)
  12. Oreo (33)
  13. Nestle (34 from 294)
  14. Kellogg's (39 from 60)
  15. Kraft (40 from 257)
  16. Sprint (42)
  17. Chanel (43)
  18. Wendy's (47)
  19. Bethesda (49 from 143)

Related: Want to Reach Millennials? This Is How They Spend Their Time. (Infographic)

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