Google, Starbucks and Apple are actually “secretly disliked” by consumers, Y&R’s study finds

An unusual study “Secrets and Lies” by Y&R reveals unconscious views and values of consumers that can be hardly ever learnt from ‘regular’ surveys. Conducted in April 2013 among 900 online respondents from the U.S., Brazil and China, the survey combines two methodologies: traditional survey research to reveal what people want others to think of them, as well as indirect questioning, a so-called Implicit Association that sheds light on consumers’ unconscious, hidden motivations.

Top 5 conscious and unconscious values

Global conscious Values Global unconscious Values
1. Meaning in life 1. Sexual fulfillment
2. Choosing your own path 2. Respect for tradition
3. Helpfulness 3. Maintaining security
4. Environmentalism 4. Environmentalism
5. Success 5. Wealth


While most of the global respondents claim that their #1 value is achieving meaning in life, unconsciously sexual fulfillment ranks first. By country, Americans put helpfulness on the top of their conscious values (#16 in unconscious ranking), while their #1 conscious value is maintaining security.

Top 3 liked and disliked brands

Truly disliked Secretly disliked Secretly liked Truly liked
AT&T Google Target Facebook
K-mart Starbucks Exxon Amazon
Playboy National Inquirer Whole Foods


Consciously and Unconsciously Loved Brands

Consciously Loved Brands Ranking Unconsciously Loved Brands Ranking
Amazon 1 Target 1
Google 2 Amazon 2
Apple 3 Facebook 3
Target 5 Whole Foods 4
Whole Foods 6 National Inquirer 5
Starbucks 7 Exxon 6
McDonald’s 8 McDonald’s 7
Facebook 9 Apple 8
AT&T 10 Starbucks 9
Toyota Prius 11 AT&T 10
Playboy 12 K-mart 12
K-mart 13 Toyota Prius 13
Exxon 14 Google 14
National Inquirer 15 Playboy 15


The survey shows that many brands that are perceived as much-loved (consciously) fall in the unconsious rankings. For example, Google ranks second on the conscious list, while it is just fourteenth in the unconscious one.

Generation Word: a new mainstream consumer group

Despite the contradictory attitudes and inner conflict of values that most consumer adopt, not all of them feel stressed out. A new mainstream group of consumers emerges that can take these contradictions in stride—Y&R called them Generation World. These people are more digitally savvy, they defy traditional stereotypes in their local cultures; they can’t be adequately addressed in their traditional market segments, age or demographic groups.

This group defines finds the the following statements are true to them more than 50%:

  • People should be able to marry, live and work however they want 60.2%
  • It’s up to me to get what I want in life 59.8%
  • My age doesn’t define me; it is not central to who I am 55.0%
  • My identity—who I really am—is a work in progress 52.6%
  • Success is about how you see yourself, not how other people think of you 51.3%

Interestingly, only 29% of the Generation World approve the ways marketers target people like them right. In the U.S. just 11% of this specific group feels so.

“What people tell us and what they really feel are often two very different things,” says David Sable,” Y&R global CEO. “”Marketers have known that instinctively — and it explains why some compaigns that seem so on the mark fall flat in the marketplace. Our research gives us the ability to dig deeper and get a fuller, truer picture”.”

Regarding the new definition of the Generation World group, Mr. Sable comments,

““People are more complicated today than in past generations. “They defy traditional stereotypes within their own local cultures. You can’t adequately describe these people by placing them into traditional market segments, age or demographic groups. That’s why we call them ‘Generation World.’””

The full report can be downloaded in PPT format here.