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Millennials & Teens Tell Us Their Favorite Celebrities

Who do Millennials and teens name as their favorite celebrity—and why?

In our Q2 Quarterly trend report survey, we took a look at the state of fame today, and asked Millennials and teens 13-32-years-old to tell us who their favorite celebrity is, and why they name that person as their favorite. This is a qualitative look at the question, which was left open-ended. As with any qualitative question, it’s important to keep in mind that the responses will include those that are top of mind, those they see most often, and those that are actually considered their favorite. That being said, the directional list of their top 10 favorite celebs, and their reasons why, can tell us a lot about the kinds of qualities they’re attracted to, and who they are paying attention to. Here’s their top ten list culled from their responses:

Taylor Swift’s position at the top is not too much of a surprise considering our recent look at their favorite musicians, but here we get a closer look at the why behind her popularity. Respondents who choose Swift called her a “good role model,” “relatable,” and named both her talent and her morals as reasons they like her. One 30-year-old male (yes, a range of ages and both genders named Swift as a favorite) wrote, “She seems down to earth, she is a good musician, and overall has a nice public image.  She does not have a persona that makes me resent her, but in addition to being very active in the media and social media platforms, she has good music to back up her celebrity status.” The consistent theme of liking Swift because of her positive, relatable image aligns with our forecast that Millennials and teens are looking for positive messaging and personas, but don’t want celebrities that try to appear perfect.

The theme of relatability continued amongst the respondents who named Jennifer Lawrence. One 22-year-old female wrote, “She’s completely human!!! Down to earth, easy to love, hard to hate, seems like your best friend even if you don’t know her, humble, gorgeous, fun, hilarious.” Being down-to-earth, and laid back but talented was the main reason that Lawrence landed at number two on their list. We saw similar responses with Emma Watson and Ellen DeGeneres. Respondents also called them good people, and mentioned their social accomplishments outside of acting as reasons for liking them.

To explain why Beyoncé made the list, we’ll simply quote one 13-year-old male, who said, “She’s Beyoncé.”

Looking at the male celebrities that made their top ten, we see a slightly different theme. For one thing, the majority here are not young actors, but long-standing personalities that Millennials and teens have grown up with. In fact, the males on the list—all actors—are named by many respondents for the roles that they play, and the movies that they have been in. Robert Downey Jr. was called “funny” and “charming” but his role as Iron Man was also a clear influencer on their choosing him as a favorite. Their explanations for choosing Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, and Will Smith were heavy on mentions of talent, range, and the number of good movies they have appeared in.

One thing we shouldn’t overlook here is that when we ask Millennials and teens to name their favorite celebrity, they are still most likely to name more traditional celebs: musicians and actors. But that doesn’t by any means discount the growing influence and sway of digital celebrities. Fame has fragmented, thanks in large part to young consumers’ preference for online content, and their desire to connect to celebrities via mediums that are more intimate than anything that has existed before. This fame is new, and more diverse. There are SO many online personalities to choose from, follow, and create fandoms around that rising to the top of the heap and making a top ten list of celebrities becomes that more difficult. But if we were to ask this question again in five years, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some of those digital influencers make the list. While their fame is in its infancy compared to the top ten we see here, it is also quickly growing.