Well-known personalities in ads are nothing new. However, with the advent of the internet and social media, power is shifting from the powerful few to the influential many.
Most Millennials Are Unimpressed by Celebrity Endorsements
In November, Roth Capital Partners released its 2017-2018 Millennial Survey, which examines spending patterns and other trends for the following consumer categories:
- Dining and restaurants.
- Fashion, personal care and décor.
- Infant and juvenile products.
- Fitness and wellness.
- Pet products and services.
- Food, beverage and groceries.
The key findings of the survey tell us that among Millennials:
- Thirty-two percent prefer to shop online, and 43 percent research online before buying in-store.
- Seventy-one percent think better retail experiences would increase in-store visiting and purchasing.
- Fifty-four percent are alright with buying entertainment and other media online, 47 percent would buy apparel online and 22 percent are alright with buying food online.
- Seventy-four percent anticipate 2018’s economy will be as good as or better than 2017’s.
But that’s not all: According to eMarketer’s reporting on the survey findings, Millennials also have strong feelings about celebrity endorsements. A whopping 76 percent view them negatively or are simply indifferent to them, and only 8 percent say they would make a purchase based on a celebrity endorsement.
Roth’s managing director and senior research analyst had this to say about what Millennials want in advertising:
“Millennials seek out experiences and prefer brands that speak to them, versus products that retailers choose to offer them,” said David M. King, CFA, Managing Director, Senior Research Analyst at ROTH. “Winning brands are those that forge authentic connections, market experientially, and exploit the new path to purchase through social media and evolving e-distribution models.”
Going back to eMarketer, we learn that Millennials also have limits when it comes to influencers, despite influencers not always fitting into the celebrity category. One-third of Millennials question whether their best interests are truly the priority for influencers. The same percentage was indifferent to influencers.
Of course, let’s not be too quick to dismiss the power of influencers in advertising. A few months back, Forbes reported on findings from surveys of teens and college-age consumers.
According to that piece, 63 percent of people aged 13 to 24 would try a brand or product if a YouTube content creator recommended it (that dips to 48 percent for television or movie stars). Further, people aged 13 to 18 rank YouTubers above traditional celebrities when it comes to various aspects of overall influence (such as approachability and authenticity).
Forbes suggests the following reasons for influencers’ power when it comes to younger consumers:
- YouTube influencers are better than traditional celebrities at connecting with audiences. Where celebrities want to adhere to PR strategies, YouTube influencers can act like themselves and talk about sensitive topics. Millennials hate inauthenticity, and see YouTube creators as types of friends that celebrities could never be.
- YouTube influencers are accessible, so drive more engagement than celebrities. From comments to Q&A sessions, influencers foster real communication, and so see much higher levels of views and engagements.
- YouTube influencers shape trends and pop culture more than traditional celebrities. At least, that’s the opinion of 70 percent of subscribers. Sixty percent of subscribers think they’d consider the recommendations of influencers over celebrities in making purchases.
Once again returning to eMarketer, we’re reminded of another reality when it comes to influencers: Pay for play. Once an influencer (or a celebrity, for that matter) is being paid for an endorsement, their credibility erodes in the opinion of almost 40 percent of responders. Over 50 percent of Millennials are more impacted by an influencer’s ongoing use of an item than by a one-time endorsement.
Getting Influencer Marketing Right
Working with influencers to create a great ad campaign is a worthy investment. Of course, you have to get it right if you want to stay in the good graces of Millennials and their little siblings, Gen Z.
AdAge spoke with a leading marketer about five principles that are key to successful partnerships with influencers, including no pay for play, not treating influencers like media outlets and more.
AdAge also had a conversation about Chevy’s campaign using real people instead of actors in commercials. This goes beyond influencers to make the point that celebrities simply don’t hold the sway they used to. Gap did something similar for a recent clothing campaign, using street casting rather than a modeling agency.
Last summer, we dug a little deeper into influencer marketing with a piece on boosting Instagram engagement. In a nutshell, it highlighted influencers’ existing audiences and the trust they have, which can be a great boon to brands. We also provided tips and cautions about finding the right influencer for your brand and maintaining your own brand voice.
Most companies can’t afford a major celebrity endorsement, and are in a far better position when it comes to working with influencers. Find the right one, forge a good partnership and watch your engagement soar.