By Jake Woolf.
Today's teens—known as Generation Z—aren't that much different than the generations that have preceded them. That is, unless you consider the fact that they've been raised on a digital diet of the Internet, social apps, and the ability to communicate with anyone at any time. Regardless, the holy grail for parents, marketers, and a large slice of the media is to understand just what's going through these plugged-in teens' minds. Enter Google. The Internet juggernaut commissioned a study to get the bottom of what is an incredibly loaded question: What do Cool Teens™ find cool?
By surveying 1,100 Gen Z teens aged 13-17 over a two week period last summer, the study found that brands like The Wall Street Journal, Vice, WhatsApp, and TMZ weren't considered cool by this generation. The study also gauged the awareness these kids have of certain brands like Uniqlo, Supreme, and Patagonia. Those all found themselves towards the bottom of the list (In Supreme's case, the brand still indexed well in terms of cool factor). It's also interesting that legacy labels, that people in their '20s and '30s might know better, (i.e. Polo and Abercrombie) were also considered less cool.
When it comes to things this generation gravitates to most, Youtube is apparently the coolest thing since sliced bread, while Netflix and Google are not far behind. (Which, to be fair, seems mighty suspicious considering Google funded this study.) Out of food-based brands, Oreo was the coolest (which, like, we get), while in the fashion space, Nike understandably came in first.
Less surprising to any style-minded guy with a penchant for sneakers is that the study found that shoes are "the currency of cool" to teenagers. After all, the sneaker business is currently booming along with all of the YouTube channels, websites, and Instagram accounts dedicated to tracking it. But it may surprise you as it did us that Nike, Jordan, Converse, and Vans all ranked higher on the cool meter than Adidas. That said, the three stripes did best Under Armour and Puma.
It should be said that this study is hardly conclusive. Trying to understand a group of people based simply on which brand names they like best can only get you so far, and this study doesn't even disclose any demographic information about the teenagers surveyed—such as their age, location, or socio-economic status—all of which could contribute to the results. And with over 60 million teenagers in America, asking 1,100 of them about what's cool can hardly be considered gospel. Even the name of the study, "It's Lit" comes across as out of touch. But it's a small glimpse into the increasingly complex world of teens if you're looking to stay ahead of the curve.
This story originally appeared on GQ.
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