Celebrity endorsements run out of steam.

“Paid product endorsements are meaningless. I want to learn about the product from experts who are advocating for it – not just some random person who happens to have a job that makes them well-known.” 

— Consumer panel participant, ExpertVoice, May 2018.

The next time you see a celebrity spokesperson speaking about a product or a service … don’t think much of it.

Chances are, the celebrity isn’t doing a whole lot to increase a company’s sales or enhance its brand image.

We have affirmation of this trend in a report issued in June 2018 by marketing firm ExpertVoice, which recently investigated a Census-weighted audience of ~500 U.S. consumers on the issue of who consumers trust for recommendations on what to buy.

The findings confirm that while celebrity endorsements do raise awareness, typically it fails to move the needle in terms of sales. In fact, just ~4% of the participants in the ExpertVoice research study reported that they trust celebrity endorsements.  (And even that percentage is juiced by professional athletes who are more influential than other celebrities.)

As for the reason for the lack of trust, more than half of the respondents noted that their greatest concern is the monetary compensation given to the people from the brands they’re endorsing. Consumers are wise to the practice – and they reject the notion that the endorser has anything other than self-dealing in mind.

By way of comparison, here are how celebrities stack up against others when it comes to influencing consumer purchases:

  • Trust recommendations from friends/family members: ~83% of respondents
  • … from a professional expert (e.g., instructor or coach): ~54%
  • … from a co-worker: ~52%
  • … from a retail salesperson: ~42%
  • … from a professional athlete: ~6%
  • … from any other kind of celebrity: ~2%

A big takeaway from the ExpertVoice research is that more people are influenced by individuals who are making recommendations based on actual experiences with the products in question. Moreover, if it’s people they know they know personally, they’re even likelier to be swayed by their opinions.

In a crowded marketplace full of many purchase choices, consumers are looking for trusted recommendations. That means something a lot more authentic than a celebrity endorser.  Considering the amount of money companies and brands have historically had to pony up for celebrity pitches, it seems an opportune time for marketers to be looking at alternative methods to influence their audiences.

Click here for more information regarding the ExpertVoice research findings.

One thought on “Celebrity endorsements run out of steam.

  1. Maybe there is an exception for the elder reverse mortgage spokesmen we’ve had, like Tom Selleck, Fred Thompson or Robert Wagner. I have the impression that trustworthy old people have been chosen to explain what is not, per se, a commercial transaction, but rather a strategy for being old successfully. I know of someone who heard about reverse mortgages this way 20 years ago in Florida and saved his house.

    I also imagine sponsorships by Alex Trebek may be successful. Some of the retired generals and admirals representing home loans may be fairly effective, also. But the actor/sponsors of gold-purchasing, like Gordon Liddy? Well, they just seem like ignorant celebrities more than they seem dishonest.

    It may help that the celebrity is old, still around … and hasn’t been to prison!

    But athletes? Especially spoiled male athletes? No way! If we’ve learned one thing in the last half a lifetime, it’s that more than a few athletes are terrible role models, uneducated, unfaiithful to their spouses, frequantly sociopathic and murderous, drug addicted, totally self-obsessed, money-hungry and hypocritical.

    … Add the latest trait — “not very patriotic” — and you realize athletes are the last people one should seek out for trust….

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