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According to new Google research, teens think Google is cool—sorry, “lit”

Reuters/Olivia Harris
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By Corinne Purtill
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Hey! Psst? Wanna know what the cool teens are thinking these days? What hip slang they use? What multinational brands they enjoy? Then check out “It’s Lit: A guide to what teens think is cool,” a research publication by the people you think of when you think of cool: the Brand Team for Consumer Apps at Google!

Cool matters! We know this because Google says it, right on the first page, next to a photo of a teen who looks exactly like the type of person a Google image search of “cool teen” would produce. He is holding a neon-green skateboard with perplexingly clean wheels. Do teens like holding skateboards these days, but not riding them? Give us the 4-1-1, “It’s Lit”!

Cool skateboard!

“It’s Lit” claims to be a window into the “the most informed and connected generation yet—Gen Z.” Gen Z, according to the Brand Team for Consumer Apps at Google (or BTFCAAG, as the teens probably say when they’re Snapchatting about it) are the 60 million people in the US born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s. This quarter of the US population has $44 billion in annual purchasing power, though that rises to $200 billion when their influence on parental buying comes into play, according to Google.

“Unlike millennials, this group is ambitious, engaged, and feel like they can change the world,” Google notes, which is how any demographic with $200 billion of their parents’ money behind them should feel! (Also, millennials: worse than people older than them, and also people younger than them!)

Google explains that teens use “cool” to mean “unique, impressive, interesting, amazing, or awesome.” That’s totally different from how non-teens use “cool,” which is usually something like “The other person in this small-talk conversation has finished speaking and I am not sure what else to say.” To find out what #brands teens think are cool, Google asked 1,100 teens to rank 122 brands based on how familiar they were with them (“Awareness”) and, more importantly, coolness.


Teens’ absolute favorite brand—and this is a total coincidence that BTFCAAG has no choice but to pass along—is YouTube, a Google property. The third coolest is Google. The 10th coolest is Chrome, Google’s web browser. Google is the coolest multinational conglomerate subsidiary there is! You don’t even have to take Google’s word for it. They also have quotes from Real Teens. Like “Female, 17, from suburban Florida,” who says: “Google is not only a powerful search engine, but great at everything it does, from email to documents.” Way to stick it to the man, Gen Z!

The chart is also a great guide to what teens think is not cool. The single least-cool brand it is possible to be is the Wall Street Journal. Quartz is not on the chart at all. We bet Google asked and the teens said, “You mean the innovative digital news site designed for navigating the global economy? Cool is not even the word! More like thought-provoking and useful! Doesn’t even fit within this matrix, Google! Next question!” (Actually, we know they didn’t; Quartz wasn’t one of the 122 brands. Maybe next year.)

The second least-cool brand is Vice. JC Penney is cooler than Vice. Yahoo is cooler than Vice. Sunglass Hut is cooler than Vice. Costco—which sells Kirkland Signature men’s pleated khakis by the pallet—is cooler than Vice! Teens are aware of nothing—well, except the Wall Street Journal—as uncool as Vice! Sounds like Vice didn’t pass the “lit-ness” test, am I right, teens? Teens?

We’ll show ourselves out.

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