Big Spenders can also be the biggest losers.

Moosylvania has been fielding a favorite brands ranking report every year since 2013.

Each January, we ask consumers across the country to tell us their three favorite brands, unaided. What we’ve found is that there is very little correlation between ad budgets and winners and losers.

We found that word of mouth, search and on-line conversations from anyone are 2.5 times more likely to impact brand adoption than TV, YouTube, and Facebook Ads combined.


As Moosylvania evaluated the top 100 brands over a five year period, we found that favorites overwhelmingly provided a value proposition to consumers that either made them:


This list contains an average of 15,000 millennial consumer responses.

Big brands with their big spends may show up in the top 10 – or in the bottom 10. But many smaller brands that can connect either at retail or through friends-of-friends dialogue are found in the midrange section of favorites. 


1. Apple
2. Nike
3. Samsung
4. Target
5. Amazon
6. Sony
7. Wal-Mart
8. Microsoft
9. Coke
10. Google
11. Adidas
12. Nintendo
13. Pepsi
14. Starbucks
15. Victoria’s Secret
16. Ford
17. Forever 21
18 Jordan
19. American Eagle
20. Disney
21. Old Navy
22. Toyota
23. Under Armour
24. Express
25. Kohl’s
26. LG
27. Chevrolet
28. McDonald’s
29. Hot Topic
30. Macy’s
31. Converse
32. Best Buy
33. H&M
34. Vans
35. Dr Pepper
36. GAP
37. Honda
38. Levi
39. Hollister
40. Chick-fil-A
41. Michael Kors
42. Frito-Lay
43. Netflix
44. Gamestop
45. Hershey’s & BMW
46. Kroger
47. Dell
48. Sephora
49. HP
50. Costco
51. Chipotle
52. Ralph Lauren
53. Aéropostale
54. Taco Bell
55. Kellogg
56. Kraft
57. Nissan
58. ebay
59. Playstation
60. Coach
61. Verizon
62. Mountain Dew
63. Trader Joe’s
64. Nordstrom
65. Asus
66. Whole Foods
67. Rue 21
68. Dodge
69. Bath & Body Works
70. Marvel
71. Valve
72. Pizza Hut
73. Banana Republic
74. Subaru
75. Tesla
76. Gucci & Jeep
77. Dove
78. J. Crew
79. Puma
80. Barnes & Noble
81. Wendy’s
82. Nestlé
83. Burger King
84. AT&T
85. HTC
86. JCPenney
87. Monster Energy
88. Facebook
89. Audi
90. REI & Southwest
91. Mazda
92. Carter’s
93. Publix & Toshiba
94. Anheuser-Busch & YouTube
95. Urban Decay
96. Anthropologie
97. Subway
98. Johnson & Johnson
99. Guess
100. Ross*Based on 15,000 Millennial consumer write-in responses
(3,000 per year)
#45, #76, #90, #93, & #94

We believe the context of 1-way communication – talking to consumers as opposed to talking with fans – can do more harm than good for many of these brands.

Consumers respond to their friends, and social platforms do their jobs when they can deliver those friends. It is not social media’s job to deliver brand messages. Engagement is earned through relevant content that actually does something for the consumer – something that can be valued, beyond just a discount or freebie. Ultimately, if a consumer is willing to share, good health is ensured. The combination of endorsement and reach to the friends-of-friends is a winning combination.


We asked consumers if they were willing to share content from brands. Not branded content, but content that served the consumer. Here’s what they told us:



So if you’ve got a budget, it doesn’t matter if it’s large or small.

What does matter is what you do with it.

The ability to dig deep and have meaningful interaction with actionable content will separate the biggest winners from the biggest losers.


We mitigated against that at Moosylvania

By developing an agile agency team, we supply real time services to keep our clients on the ‘friend side’ of the equation.

With in-house creative, media, social, digital and experiential teams working together in concert, Moosylvania has been able to help its clients be responsive with or without big budgets.

Check out Moosylvania, a 45-person independent, integrated agency that builds believers – not just buyers.

And pick up our CEO’s latest book, The Participation Game, How The Top 100 Brands Build Loyalty in a Skeptical World, published by Idea Press.

Here’s what we suggest going forward:

  • Truly understand the core of your brand
  • Continue to learn from your fans
  • Build a 2-way communication platform with a digital hub
  • Test, learn and iterate messaging
  • Create programming that amplifies participation
  • Identify retail and experiential opportunities
  • Link a solid commercial strategy to messaging