Are TV and movie stars losing their cool factor among teens? Based on recent research, there’s at least one group that’s more popular: YouTubers—people who regularly create videos on YouTube. Among US teen internet users polled in November 2014 by Defy Media, 54% followed YouTubers on social platforms. Meanwhile, 42% said the same about TV and movie stars—far lower than the young millennials polled, who were more likely to follow TV and movie celebs.
YouTubers also had a much bigger influence on purchase intent among teens, as 63% said they would try a product or brand suggested by a YouTuber. In comparison, fewer than half of respondents said the same about recommendations from a TV or movie star.
A closer look at opinions about these stars revealed significant differences in teens’ feelings toward both. Fully 34% said they respected YouTubers, and the same percentage said YouTubers were people they’d like to be. In comparison, around one-quarter said the same about TV and movie stars. An even larger divide came about when asked about how relatable each group was: 41% of teens said YouTubers did the things they wanted to do, vs. just 15% who said the same about TV and movie stars. Interestingly, teens were almost equally as likely to look up to TV and movie stars (30%) as they were YouTubers (32%).
YouTube itself also ranks highly among teens for usage. In October 2014 research by My.com, 35% of US 13-to-18-year-old smartphone and tablet users cited YouTube as a leading social media app they used—second only to Facebook, and by just 2 percentage points.
YouTubers’ sway and the platform’s popularity among teens are in line with newer video consumption habits. Fully 96% of Defy Media respondents ages 13 to 17 said they watched online video via YouTube, social media and the like—higher than the response rate for all other types of TV and digital video content studied.
Overall, eMarketer estimates that 93.0% of 12-to-17-year-old internet users in the US—or 22.5 million people—will view digital video content via any device at least once per month this year. As digital video consumption remains popular among teens, it’s likely that these YouTube celebrities will continue to hold more sway over the demographic.