Beyond the stars: why celebrity endoresement isn’t the silver bullet for marketing to teens

In our latest research report, Teens in 2017, we sought to understand the relationship between teens and brands. The outlook was pretty bleak. We uncovered a fundamental disconnect between teenagers and brands, with over half of teenagers (56%) saying that they are fed up with brands stereotyping young people.

So how can brands address this fundamental disconnect? Our report outlined three recommendations for brands looking to strengthen their relationships with teens. In this blog post, we’ll be looking at the second of these: to look beyond celebrity endorsement if you want to connect with this age group.

One key finding of our research was that celebrity endorsement is not the silver bullet when it comes to marketing to teenagers. When asked if they consider brands to be nothing without celebrity endorsement, almost half of teenagers (47%) disagreed. What’s more, few teens (just 11%) said that collaborating with celebrities would help brands to build a meaningful relationship with them.

Instead, teenagers would prefer to see brands engaging people like them. 37% said that listening to young people would help brands to build a meaningful relationship with them.

Teenagers would also prefer to see brands collaborating with young people than with celebrities, athletes or music artists. This echoes what we discovered about the influences on teenagers’ lives. What unifies their key influences is that they tend to be people they know personally or people that they perceive to be like them rather than aspirational figures like celebrities. This explains the appeal of “average teen” YouTubers to this demographic. Brands should be mindful of this when designing their advertising campaigns to ensure that their marketing spend is working hard enough for them.

Want to know what else brands should be doing to rebuild relationships with teens? Look out for our next blog post or read the full report.