American brands losing global teen market lead

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on February 7, 2006

The marketing world may be witnessing the end of the global romance between teenagers and famous all-American brands, according to the 'GenWorld Teen Study' (covering thirteen nations) conducted by Energy BBDO.

According to the study, big brands from the USA no longer dominate the list of top 10 global teen brands. While Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Disney can still boast worldwide brand awareness, the GenWorld Teen Study suggests that, to the current generation of teens around the world, simply being well known is no longer enough to make a brand the most popular.

Top ten by brand preference
For example, although McDonalds is still ranked 2nd in terms of brand recognition globally, its preference rating among teens was much lower. Similarly, Disney was 9th in the awareness rankings but also fell behind in terms of preference. Coca-Cola still ranks first in terms of awareness but its preference rating has also slipped slightly, to 8th place in the top ten global teen brands list.

Rank Brand Net-positive
1 Sony 72
2 Nokia 69
3 Adidas 65
4 Nike 64
5 Colgate 63
6 Nestle 63
7 Cadbury 62
8 Coca-Cola 62
9 M&Ms 62
10 Kodak 58

Table 1: Top ten global teen brands (Net-Positive Ranking)
Source: Energy BBDO

According to Chip Walker, executive vice president and director of planning for Energy BBDO, it is still unclear whether attitudes toward America are driving these ratings: "There seems to be a great ambivalence toward America among global teens. About half admire America while half don't. Yet, it remains - by a slim margin - the country they would most like to visit.

Top ten by brand recognition
But some American brands are thriving among global teens, including Microsoft, Levi's, MTV, M&Ms and Kellogg's. According to Walker, "Perhaps more than a sign of the political times, dominance of these brands signals the increasingly global nature of teen consumer culture, as well as the mileage brands get out of doing their job well. Leading brands connect deeply with teen passion points such as music, media, sports and communication, and do so in a stylish, individualised way."

Rank Brand Net-positive
ranking #
1 Coca-Cola 8
2 McDonalds 32
3 Pepsi 24
4 Nokia 2
5 Sony 1
6 Colgate 5
7 Nestle 6
8 Nike 4
9 Disney 23
10 Kodak 10

Table 2: Top ten global teen brands (Brand Recognition)
Source: Energy BBDO

The fall of American brands?
Sony, Nokia and Adidas ranked highest in teen consumer preference. These three brands are all from different countries (Japan, Finland, Germany), suggesting to Walker that this may be the first sign of the weakening stature of all-American brands in the global teen market.

According to Walker, "Companies based in the USA must do more than build brand awareness or rely on American cachet to increase their status with the increasingly brand-savvy global teen market. Whatever their country of origin, brands with global teen ambitions will need to provide great products and find new and more relevant ways to connect with teens."

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