Fame is so fragmented these days that the kinds of celebrities that Gen Z and Millennials say are their favorite may be more important than the exact celebs they name…
Two years ago, we told you that fame has never been more fragmented or more fluid. And it’s even more true in 2021. Now, TikTok stars are mainstream, with more emerging on the daily, and jumping into a variety of other traditional entertainment career paths, like music and acting. Micro-influencers have emerged as a force, and there seem to be more kinds of young online creators than ever before. Meanwhile, Hollywood has had a rocky year thanks to COVID, and the popularity of major actors and actresses may be flagging in the wake of film delays and TV’s reliance on reality.
Our most recent celebrity and influencer survey asked 13-39-year-olds, “Who is your favorite famous person? A famous person could be a movie star, YouTuber, athlete, musician, Instagrammer, TV star, etc.” And while we can tell you the celebrities who got the most mentions (and we will) the reality is that no single “famous person” received more than 30 mentions. In fact, out of over 650 celebrities who were named, 465 received only one mention. The era of the uber-popular superstar is over. Instead, Gen Z and Millennials’ favorite celebrities is a huge and diverse, ever-changing list. So while those who do garner large fan bases are worth mentioning, what might be even more important is the kind of celebrity that both of these generation is most likely to name as their favorite. When we look at the data through this lens, we see the kinds of celebrities that are earning Gen Z and Millennials as fans—and that there are important differences between the generations:
From the top: Music artists are ranked first for both Gen Z and Millennials. There’s no doubt that the influence of musicians is massive. Our recent Clicking on Community trend report found that outside of family and friends, musicians are a top source of guidance and support for Gen Z and Millennials—but especially for Gen Z. When it comes to specific musicians named, BTS, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Eminem, Nicki Minaj, and Justin Bieber all made the top 10, and BTS was in fact the top “famous person” named by Gen Z overall. Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish also earned multiple mentions, and a few respondents listed Gen Z newcomer Olivia Rodrigo, who only just released her debut song “drivers license” at the very beginning of 2021, as their favorite. (Though it’s a clear sign of fame fragmentation that this Gen Z super star doesn’t rank in the top of the list of favorite celebrities.)
But after musicians, we begin to see some differences in the kinds of celebs that Gen Z and Millennials name as their favorites. As we saw in 2019, Gen Z is more likely to name an online celebrity as their favorite famous person, while Millennials are more likely to name Hollywood actors. In fact, MrBeast (a YouTuber we’ve told you plenty about) was one of the most-mentioned favorite famous people among Gen Z, making their top three after BTS and Ariana Grande. Meanwhile, Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock, was the most mentioned favorite celebrity among Millennials, followed by Beyoncé and Eminem. We know Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to follow online celebrities on social media, but this data also shows that their devotion to influencers and online creators is more than feed-deep. These are the famous faces they consider their favorites.
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