Cracking the Millennial Reputation Code

This blog post summarizes RI's recent Global Millennial RepTrak, ranking 2018's companies with the strongest reputations among Millennials worldwide.

Why are Millennials important for business?

Globally, there are 1.8 billion Millennials, with about 90% residing in developing nations, according to The Financial Times. Their role in driving the global economy is increasing, with an estimated global net worth of $24 trillion by 2025 and a spending increase of 25% from 2016 to 2021. Millennials will also make up 35% of the global workforce by 2020 – highlighting their importance in the labor market. Understanding how to build and manage corporate reputation among millennials is thus crucial for any company’s future business success. 

Figure 1: Global Millennial RepTrak© Top 10 Companies

2018 Millennial RepTrak


Millennial RepTrak ranking

In 2018, only one company—Google—manages to attain an excellent score. The rest of the companies sit in the strong or average range. The United States, Japan, and Germany are primarily home to the most reputable companies for Millennials. Among the top 10, Rolex and Google display great consistency with a top 3 ranking among Millennials and the Global General Public overall. Nintendo is the one company that performs much better among Millennials – with an increase of nine positions. 

Company Millennial reputation spotlights

  • Rolex: As the second most reputable company among Millennials, Rolex’s near win signifies that luxury brands can also succeed with this younger audience. Building on as strong performance on the dimensions of Products/Services, Leadership, and Financial Performance, Rolex excels at capitalizing on celebrity cache. The company’s connection with high-profile sports icons elevates its content relevance. Rolex embodies success with integrity, which ultimately enables it to forge a strong emotional bond with Millennials. 
    Rolex Reputation Among Millennials

  • The Walt Disney Company: Ranked in 3rd place, The Walt Disney Company is iconic, caring, and highly relevant. It has the highest scores in Corporate Responsibility, as well as Leadership, and Performance. The Walt Disney Company is second only to Google in providing a strong corporate brand narrative and communicating in a relevant way with sufficient depth and cadence. Disney is perceived as the most caring company among Millennials, too.
  • Nintendo: Nintendo is the 4th most reputable company among Millennials. It has the highest score in Governance, which is the second most important driver for Millennial corporate reputation. It also has the highest CEO score, for Nintendo’s former CEO, Tatsumi Kimishima. Nintendo’s rich heritage and brand legacy create a strong emotional bond, while it is also within the top three ranks in providing enough information about activities and welcoming open discussion.


What we learned: 7 ways to crack the Millennial reputation code

  • Millennials perceive companies no differently at a global level. The differences in reputation score between Millennials and Non-Millennials is only 0.5-points, with the average global Millennial score for companies at 68.9 and the average global Non-Millennial score at 68.4. This results in similar levels of company support, such as willingness to buy, recommend, trust, work for, give benefit of the doubt to, and invest.
  • Not all Millennials are created equally. Millennials are not homogenous. Millennials rate companies’ reputation very differently by country – sometimes more, sometimes less favorably than Non-Millennials. Even among Millennials, corporate reputation ratings vary significantly by age and/or gender within a given country. Understanding segment-specific differences is key in developing a better reputation building and management strategy.
  • Millennials align with both tangibles and intangibles of a company. From a content perspective, Millennials and Non-Millennials value Products/Services, Governance, and Citizenship, in that order. But to win among Millennials, companies must put more emphasis on financial Performance. Improvement in Corporate Responsibility is still the biggest opportunity from a content perspective to improve reputation among Millennials.
  • What and how you communicate matters. A company’s communication and its perceived image accounts for 40% of a given company’s reputation score. Companies must showcase their corporate brand strength (uniqueness, genuineness and consistency) and communicate in both an informative and relevant way.
  • Progressiveness is key, being straightforward and caring is equally important. Being perceived as progressive, caring and straightforward is key in building reputation. Companies have the biggest opportunity in increasing their association with the caring persona, which sees the lowest association of the three.
  • Millennials want engagement from CEOs. CEO familiarity has a +10.7-point reputation impact on Millennial reputation, yet, only 14% of millennial respondents were familiar with a given company’s CEO. Increasing CEO familiarity yields reputation gains – and higher scores on Governance and Citizenship. Having a CEO who embodies values of corporate responsibility is especially beneficial.
  • Leveraging psychographic understanding can help more effectively build reputation among Millennials and manage risk. Millennials who self-categorize as “in the know” or “traditionalist” tend to be companies’ biggest advocates. Focusing on content areas that matter to these segments will not only help build corporate reputation but potentially buffer against reputation risk.

Reputational conclusion of the Millennial generation

As Millennials become an ever-growing part of companies’ success – or the lack thereof – it is crucial to understand how to build and manage your reputation among this population segment. As there is no one size fits all approach to this cohort, understanding the regional and demographic dynamics within the group we call Millennials is key. 

While certain strategies may match those that are most effective for Non-Millennials, the key insights from our study will help you develop more effective content and communication strategies that will resonate with Millennials and ultimately contribute to your company’s success. Top-performing companies like Google, Rolex, The Walt Disney Company, and Nintendo lead the way and teach us how, when put into practice, reputation continues to be an economic multiplier.  

About the Study
Global Millennial RepTrak 100
 is a global survey based on 230,000 ratings from the General Public across the 15 largest economies, collected in January-February of 2018. It ranks global companies based on their performance among Millennials, who we have categorized as those ages 22-37, sourced from The Pew Research Center.


Meghan Burke

 Meghan Burke
 Research Analyst
 Reputation Institute 


Sven Klingemann

Sven Klingemann, Ph.D.
Global Research Manager
  Reputation Institute


How the Most Reputable Companies Win at Social Media
How the Most Reputable Companies Win at Social Media

What is your company doing to win at social media? Take a tip from Barnes & Noble, Hershey's, Campbell's, a...

How Consumer Companies Can Win Back Reputation
How Consumer Companies Can Win Back Reputation

5 actionable ways the Consumer Industry can boost their reputation.