Cheryl Cole and L’Oreal, David Beckham and Pepsi, Gary Lineker and Walkers – UK television screens and billboards are full of much-loved celebrities touting the latest products and the biggest brands.
But how effective is celebrity endorsement? Does a famous face really help products to fly off the shelves? A recent survey conducted to celebrate the launch of the new interactive TwoLittleFleas.co.uk Celebrity Urban Legends Quiz has revealed that close to 30% of Brits have bought a product because it was endorsed by a celebrity.
Are consumers really so easily swayed by an A-lister? According to Mirre Stallen of Erasmus University, the answer is yes. A team of scientists recently discovered that women’s brains respond differently to images of unknown people versus images of celebrities wearing the same pair of shoes. When a celebrity was shown in the footwear, feelings of affection were recorded in the viewer’s brain activity – creating a memorable link which could more easily be recalled at a later date.
TwoLittleFleas.co.uk’s research, which polled a total 854 UK respondents with the question “have you ever bought a product because a celebrity endorsed it?”, tallies with this research – women make up the majority of participants who answered “yes”.
• 30% of respondents had bought an item because of celebrity endorsement
• 66% of celebrity endorsed product buyers were women
• 34% of celebrity endorsed product buyers were men
• 41.2% of those who answered “yes” were aged 18-24
While women are clearly most influenced by celebrity endorsement, thw study indicates that younger age groups are far more likely to be swayed by celebrity affiliation with a product or brand. This pattern, too, is widely recognised. An interesting article from The Globe on the subject includes an illuminating quote from 16-year-old, Tiffany Goonitelleke : “I love to have the same things like clothes, shoes, or accessories as my favourite singer Gwen Stefani,” having these items, she says, make the younger generation “part of the cool fashion trends going on.”
Yet there do seem to be a few rules surrounding celebrity endorsement. While Harvard Business School’s study “The Economic Value of Celebrity Endorsements” concludes that: ““In general enlisting the help of celebrity endorsers pays off.”, there are exceptions…
For example, celebrities who endorse a great many products often lose credibility. Equally, celebrities who receive negative press coverage tend to be swiftly dropped by brands as they can have a harmful effect on brand perception. In 2009, for instance, Tiger Woods was swiftly dropped by Accenture after his notorious bout with bad publicity.