The influence of celebrities on consumer decision making
While celebrities do wield influence over consumer decision making, marketers should remember that not all celebrity association is positive, data from Kantar Media's TGI survey reveals.
Cheryl Cole: particularly admired by children aged 7-10
Even for a country where the cult of the famous is so strong, we could be forgiven for thinking that the British public is overdosing on celebrity this autumn.
With the TV schedules already filled by Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor, and with I’m a Celebrity... about to be added to the mix, rarely have consumers been weaned on so much celebrity TV and related spin-offs into other media.
What effect this has on consumers is a question marketers are keen to answer. Newly released data from Kantar Media’s TGI survey reveals the influence of celebrities on consumer decisions and how consumers particularly influenced by celebrities can best be targeted.
Young and with a strong London and North-West bias
Overall, 5% of adults (aged 15+) in Britain believe that celebrities influence their purchase decisions. Such a conscious acknowledgement of celebrity influence on decision making has risen in recent years, up from 2 million adults three years ago to 2.5 million today.
Age is a key driving factor; over 60% of these celeb-influenced individuals are aged under 30 and almost 50% are under 25. A female bias does exist, but it is only slight (56% of this group are female).
Geography is also a key factor, with Londoners 41% more likely than the average adult to be influenced by celebrities. Similarly, those in the North-West are 31% more likely to be influenced by celebs, whilst conversely those in the South-East are 36% less likely and those in the South-West 28% less likely.
Going out, wearing the right clothes and being seen are what it’s all about
When it comes to their attitudes and outlook, a sense of looking good, standing out and having fun are key for this celebrity-influenced group.
They are over four times more likely than the average adult to agree that a designer label improves a person’s image, a little under four times more likely to believe that the point of drinking is to get drunk, and three and a half times more likely to agree that their car should catch people’s attention.
Tapping effectively into this outlook is key to engaging these people with effective marketing.
Generally very ad/sponsorship receptive, with a particular bias to cinema
Cinema is one of the most appropriate media for reaching those influenced by celebrities, both in terms of overall numbers and efficiency.
A quarter of them are amongst the heaviest 20% of cinema goers, making them 88% more likely to be so than the average adult. Magazines and outdoor media also represent especially strong and efficient matches. Romantic comedies in particular and comedies generally are a real favourite for this group at the cinema.
Sponsorship is another fertile means of reaching these celebrity-influenced individuals. They are almost five times more likely than the average adult to buy products from companies who sponsor TV programmes and three and a half times more likely to buy from companies who sponsor sports.
Indeed, this is a group generally receptive to marketing messages. TGI shows that they are a fifth less likely than the average to agree that advertising is a waste of their time.
The young are no fools to the perils of celebrity
When it comes to kids, contrary to what some may intuitively believe, there is a general trend across younger age groups away from the attractions of fame.
New data released this autumn on the Youth TGI survey reveals the relationship children have with celebrity. Three years ago 49% of 11-14 year olds wanted to be famous, but this has fallen to 45% today. The story is similar for the 7-10 and 15-19 age groups.
Perhaps children are more conscious today of the double-edged nature of being a celebrity, having seen the public fall from grace of so many. Indeed, celebrities are not merely there to be admired by the public, but sometimes to be vilified too.
Association with someone famous for the right reasons is key
Marketers will do well to remember that not all celebrity association is positive and tread carefully. For example, 44% of 11-14 year olds profess to hate Paris Hilton and 49% of 15-19s hate Katie Price.
Conversely, association with a celebrity that kids feel a genuine affection for can of course reap rich dividends. Over 50% of children aged 7-10 particularly admire Ant & Dec and a similar number feel the same about Cheryl Cole.
Indeed, contemporary pop culture icons are by and large admired by far more kids than more traditionally establishment figures. 35% of 15-19 year olds particularly admire Simon Cowell, but only 16% feel the same about the Pope and 13% about Prince Charles.
So celebrities certainly wield a great deal of influence over consumer decision making, with two and a half million adults alone consciously acknowledging this fact (and most likely a far greater number equally influenced but unwilling to acknowledge it).
Nonetheless, marketers must ensure that their message sits right with the distinctive outlook of this group and that they tie their brand to the kind of celebrity respected and idolised for their talents, not one gleefully ridiculed.
James Powell is marketing manager at Kantar Media
TGI is a continuous survey of consumer usage habits, lifestyles, media exposure and attitudes of GB adults aged 15+
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