The top 17 food brands millennials love

Why Millennials Matter
Why Millennials Matter

Millennials make up a crucial group of consumers.

Ad agency Moosylvania asked over 3,500 millennials — defined as 20 to 35-year-olds — to select their favorite brands over the past three years.

Great Questions, LLC helped rank the winning brands.

These brands are the food brands that came out on top.

Some are surprising — others, not so much.

17. Nestle

Headquarters: Vevey, Switzerland

Why it's hot: Nestle's Nescafe created "social art" in Croatia by placing its red mugs all over the city. This, Moosylvania says, appealed to millennials. Nestle also manufactures many popular candies.

16. Subway

Headquarters: Milford, Connecticut

Why it's hot: Subway has long reigned supreme when it healthy fast food, but recently, Chipotle has dethroned the chain. Still, the brand has considerable popularity.

15. General Mills

Headquarters: Minneapolis, MN

Why it's hot: General Mills' Fiber One brand has been nailing its marketing, with its funny ads, and its socially-driven contest like #FiberOneCheesecake, which gave users the opportunity to win cheesecake for an entire year.

14. Wendy's

Headquarters: Columbus, Ohio

Why it's hot: One of Wendy's recentmarketing campaigns was ultra-focused on millennials, with the young "Red" character in commercials and new items like pretzel cheeseburgers. Wendy's has always emphasized being fresher than competitors, making every burger to-order and not freezing beef. In the era of Chipotle, this message resonates with millennials.

13. Trader Joe's

Headquarters: Monrovia, California

Why it's hot: Millennials love Trader Joe's. Organic food, unique products, and low prices make it a hot destination for millennials. It also boasts its own unique personality — be it the Hawaiian shirts or the pun-laden signs around the stores.

12. Pizza Hut

Headquarters: Wichita, Kansas

Why it's hot: Pizza Hut tested out movie-projector boxes in Hong Kong, proving that the brand is always looking to innovate. Pizza Huts wacky pizzas, like its Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza, certainly set sparks of intrigue (and maybe disgust) flying throughout social media and the Internet.

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11. Kroger

Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio

Why it's hot: Kroger's loyalty cards track what shoppers buy — so that Kroger's shoppers don't just receive random rewards, but rather, rewards that cater to their specific shopping needs. Kroger has been taking many steps to advance its in-store (and delivery) technology.

10. Kraft

Headquarters: Northfield, Illinois

Why it's hot: Kraft scored big points with millennials this year when it announced that starting in 2016, its original Macaroni & Cheese will get its color from natural spices like paprika instead of from artificial additives Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. Kraft's latest ads have also appealed to millennials, Moosylvania explains, since they look more like GIFs — something millennials love.

9. Chipotle

Headquarters: Denver, Colorado

Why it's hot: It's no secret — millennials are obsessed with fast casual behemoth Chipotle. Its focus on eliminating GMOs and sustainable ingredients has helped it unseat Subway as the ultimate healthy place to eat. The company is also quirky — Moosylvania points to its haiku contest, wherein consumers could write love haikus to their beloved burritos for the chances to win prizes.

8. Chick-fil-A

Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

Why it's hot: Chick-fil-A has a cult following, no doubt. Its zealots showed their devotion when they had the opportunity todress like cows to win free food. Chick-fil-A remains a favorite destination for millennialsbecause the food is fresh...and good.

7. Whole Foods

Headquarters: Austin, Texas

Why it's hot: Whole Foodsis known for selling fresh, organic food, and for suggesting healthy recipes to consumers. It has engaged consumers on its social networks by encouraging them to share their own food photos.

6. Taco Bell

Headquarters: Irvine, California

Why it's hot: Taco Bell remains wildly popular. It's #breakfastdefects campaign helped the brand create its own unique, Internet-friendly culture surrounding its breakfast lineup. Taco Bell also rewards fans by giving away free food with occasional contests.

5. Hershey's

Headquarters: Hershey, Pennsylvania

Why it's hot: Hershey's has dropped artificial colorings from its chocolate. "We are committed to making our products using ingredients that are simple and easy-to-understand, like fresh milk from local farms, roasted California almonds, cocoa beans and sugar – ingredients you recognize, know and trust," the company said in a news release.

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4. Kellogg's

Headquarters: Battle Creek, Michigan

Why it's hot: Cereal sales might be declining, but the company has mastered digital campaigns, which certainly appeals to millennials.

3. Frito Lay

Headquarters: Plano, Texas

Why it's hot: Lay's won big with its Do Us A Flavor contest. People who shared their digitally designed flavors online were eligible to win bags of their designed chips — and some even got to have their flavors nationally produced. (Business Insider went ahead andtested some of these wacky flavors).

2. McDonald's

Headquarters: Oak Brook, Illinois

Why it's hot:The brand has been introducing more fresh ingredients and customizable burgers to compete with fast casual brands. It's#PayWithLovin campaign also appealed to millennials.

1. Starbucks

Headquarters: Seattle, Washington

Why it's hot:Starbucks has been expanding its menu to include more food options such as sandwiches and salads — and even wine at some locations. It has also added drive-thrus to many locations. Additionally, it allows consumers to have a say in its products — like when it had consumers vote on new frappuccino flavors in the summer, granting the winning beverage a lower price, Moosylvania notes.

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