The study, which Google wrote up as a PDF magazine titled “It’s Lit: a guide to what teens think is cool,” was gleaned from surveys of 400 American teens between the ages of 13 and 17 – AKA Generation Z – and 800 millennials between the ages of 18 and 25.
Other top brands among the respondents included Netflix, XBox, GoPro, and PlayStation (but not Microsoft or Sony).
“For Generation Z, what’s cool is also a representation of their values, their expectations of themselves, their peers, and the brands they hold in the highest regard,” Google wrote in the study. “Cool is an indication of what people pay attention to, what gets them excited, and can often act as a manifestation of their hope and dreams.”
The company also noted that male respondents were more likely to be persuaded something was cool by fads and friends, while females were more likely to consider something cool based on how it made them feel.
Of the 10 leading topics surveyed, none was considered cool by more than 15 per cent of respondents – 14 per cent of male 13-to-17-year-olds, and 10 per cent of females, considered technology cool, for example. Among males, video games were considered cool by 15 per cent of respondents, while clothes, fashion, and beauty came out on top for females at 13 per cent.
And to the likely surprise of no one, more than 90 per cent of teenage respondents reported owning a smartphone.
When it comes to social media use Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook came out on top, with more than 50 per cent of respondents on each – though Google noted that Facebook is seen more as a platform for “consumption and stalking” than posting, since the latter is seen as “not cool.”
Finally, Google asked respondents for their opinions of a wide range of brands, measuring their answers on two fronts: Coolness and awareness. The top 10 brands among respondents, in order, were:
Asked why Google ranked so highly in the survey, millennials called the search giant’s signature engine “serious,” while Gen Z called it “fun.” Both called it “functional,” and associated it with “search” more than any other word.
“Teens also think Google is cool because it is popular (search engine), innovative (self driving cars, glass), creative (Google Doodles and easter eggs) and has good values,” Google noted in its report.
You can check out which brands placed where among the survey’s Gen Z and millennial respondents below (click for full-sized versions).