Data Shows Celebrities Make a Difference when Millennials are Ready to Purchase

Taboola will be exhibiting at YMS. Here Megan Morreale and Gal Salomon share their insights into navigating advertising to Millennials.

As technology evolves, the plight of the older generation will always be to figure out how to reach the next generation more easily. This is a challenge as marketers try to navigate effectively advertising to millennials.

One thing hasn’t changed—celebrities are still very influential in youth’s decision to buy. In fact, they’re twice as effective for millennials as they are for the rest of affluent internet users.

A 2016 study provided by Ipsos to eMarketer compared 752 internet users in two age brackets—millennials (born 1982-1998), and the rest at ages 18+, with household incomes of $100K or more. Millennials were almost twice as likely to be influenced to purchase the following: hotels; apparel, shoes and accessories; home decor, furnishings and appliances; and automotive products if a celebrity gave them the idea or inspiration.

The thing is though, it can’t just be any celebrity—and the popularity of certain celebrities waxes and wanes with pop culture events, news coverage, and movie and music releases.

Given the impact that celebrities have on brands, we explored which celebrities are currently at the forefront of pop culture, based on nominees from the 2017 Grammy's and Oscars.

Musicians: In the US, Beyoncé is still Queen, but Bieber is more popular globally.

When you’re trying to speak to millennials and convince them to purchase, there are a few musicians who are more likely to influence.

We looked at Grammy nominees from the categories, “Album of the Year,” and “Record of the Year,” and found those that are read about the most, both globally and in the US.

The list of top artists is: Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Drake, Adele and Sia.

Globally, we checked each country to find which of the following artists had the most number of readers, and then counted for each artist, in how many countries s/he came in first place. We also checked each artist’s ranking for each state in the US. We ran this analysis once on all platforms—desktop, tablet and mobile—and then for each and for every platform separately.

In the following graphs you can see on the y-axis in how many countries each artist has the highest number of readers.

No matter the platform, Justin Bieber is the most popular artist globally, with close to 80 countries in which he has the highest number of readers, around the time of the grammy’s. Rihanna follows close behind with just above 70 countries with Beyoncé falling in third at around 60 countries.

For marketers targeting millennials, knowing which celebrities are influential is important—but when it comes to actually making those ads, and hammering out a distribution strategy, it’s helpful to know who is most influential on which platform.

Bieber still takes the lead in mobile, whereas Rihanna surpasses him in the number of unique readers on desktop devices.

The surprise though—Adele, who took less than a quarter of global readership across all platforms, has highest number of countries in which she got the highest number of tablet users read about her.

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In the US, it gets more predictable—Queen Bey takes the cake on every device. Even when you break it down by platform, the data doesn’t change. Below, you can see her performance in the US, across all devices. Beyonce is the artist people read about the most in all 50 states.

In the US, her numbers are so large that no one but Drake even makes it on the playing field. So why is there such a difference between the US and Global tastes?

We can’t definitively say, but there might be some correlation to album sales that marketers can gain insight from. According to the 2016 Nielsen U.S. Music Mid-Year Report, Beyoncé beats Bieber in the Overall Top 10, which includes all albums, track equivalent albums and on-demand audio streaming equivalent albums. Her total volume reached 1,687,000 at 3rd on the list, while his reached 1,332,000 at 4th on the list.

In the US, Beyoncé is the clear winner—but globally Bieber takes the lead in album sales. According to IFPI’s Global Music Report: Music Consumption Exploding Worldwide, Justin Bieber is the number four artist globally, with 3.1 million units sold worldwide. Units include single-track downloads and track-equivalent streams. Beyoncé didn’t make the list.

In this case, album sales and readership seem to correlate. For marketers though, Bieber and Beyoncé may be ruling the music world, but musicians aren’t the only ones who influence the millennials likelihood to purchase. They’re also paying attention to the big screen.

Actors: The world is the most interested in Ryan Gosling and Natalie Portman.

When it comes to millennial influencers on the big screen, one actor and one actress stand out more than all the rest—Ryan Gosling and Natalie Portman.

We took a look at nominees from the categories, “Best Actor in a Leading Role,” and “Best Actress in a Leading Role,” to discover who was claiming the most eyes across the web.

The graph below represents the number of countries in which each actor has the highest number of readers—Viggo Mortensen, Ryan Gosling, Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck and Andrew Garfield—across all platforms globally.

Whereas this graph represents the number of countries in which each actor has the highest number of readers—Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Isabelle Huppert and Ruth Negga—across all platforms globally.

When we broke it down by platform globally, Ryan Gosling is still the clear favorite actor with more than double the amount of countries reading about him than his four runners up—his popularity is consistent.

For the actresses, Natalie Portman has more competition from Meryl Streep and Emma Stone, with Meryl Streep surpassing her in popularity on a tablet.

In the US, Viggo Mortensen, nominated for his role in Captain Fantastic, came out on top as the most popular actor, with Denzel Washington an extremely close second. Ryan Gosling isn’t far behind them in 3rd place for most states reading about him.

This popularity amongst the three top actors changes when you compare them by device. Viggo Mortensen is still the clear popularity winner on mobile and tablet devices, whereas Ryan Gosling surges ahead amongst desktop users.

Interestingly though, for the Actresses, Meryl Streep wipes everyone else off the board with her popularity in the US—a stark contrast to the global analysis.

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Meryl Streep’s popularity is consistent across all devices, and can’t be explained definitively, but her popularity in the US versus Natalie Portman’s globally could have a correlation to her recent heated exchange with US President Donald Trump.

Regardless of the data, and the pop culture events that drive it, one thing is clear—for millennial marketers, the influence of celebrities is immense and it’s important to know who will influence your target audience on which device.


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