Gen Z & Millennials’ 15 Favorite Pro Athletes Today

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

Young consumers might be watching sports differently from previous generations, but they still have favorite athletes—and the name on top beat out some serious competition…

There is little doubt that Gen Z and Millennial viewers are changing the way that sports are watched. (Ypulse has been tracking the shift in sports live-streaming versus live TV viewing—more on that tomorrow.) But watching differently doesn’t mean they’re not watching—and it certainly doesn’t mean they don’t have favorite athletes. In fact, thanks to social media, today’s athletes are full-blown influencers. According to Ypulse data, 34% of 13-35-year-olds on social media follow athletes or sports teams. When we ask which type of celebrity they trust most, athletes topped the list, over online celebrities, music celebrities, and TV/movie celebrities. We see a similar pattern when we ask what public figures they trust: 20% of 13-36-year-olds say athletes, who rank above TV stars, movie stars, bloggers, Instagrammers, and all politicians on the list. When choosing between music celebrities, Hollywood celebrities, online celebrities, and athletes, young consumers are most likely to say that they admire athletes the most, and that they would like to see athletes as a spokesperson for a brand.

Thanks in part to Gen Z and Millennials’ high opinion of athletes, and the influence they have as public figures, we continue to track who the favorites are—and this year we saw a bit of a shake up. In our recent survey on sports and athletics, we asked 13-36-year-olds, “Who your favorite professional athlete?”* After three years of two names battling it out for number one, a new contender came out on the top of the ranking:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of athletes that…


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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day:  Millennials have grown up in a world where consuming wine outdoors—or any location outside of the traditional table—is more acceptable than generations past.”—Kate McManus, VP of Marketing, Delicato Family Wines (Wine Spectator)

Young consumers are “killing the shopping spree.” Whether they’re signing up for the growing number of clothing subscription services (Rent the Runway, Le Tote, Urban Outfitters, etc.), shopping second-hand, or just culling their closets—young shoppers are quitting fast fashion in droves. Some are inspired by Marie Kondo’s joy-sparking brand of minimalism, while others want to help the environment—and still others are just seeking a wide range of things to wear at a lower price. (Vice)

Airbnb is launching “adventures” for experience-seeking young travelers. The site that started with accommodations and moved into one-off “experiences” (like dinner parties) now offers multi-day excursions, complete with guides, gear, meals, and accommodations. The platform already features over 200 trips in 40 countries, including a tiger-tracking expedition in Kenya and a trek through the canyons of Oman. (Fast Company)

Tyson Foods is taking on the fake meat market with plant-based nuggets. The pea protein nuggets are the first in a line of “Raised & Rooted” products from Tyson Foods. The brand's CEO explains they’re catering to the “growing number of people open to flexible diets that include both meat and plant-based protein”—aka young flexitarians, not full-time vegans. But can a company known for its meat sell the idea that “this [trend] is about ‘and’—not ‘or’”? (The Verge)

Snapchatters can shop Levi’s new Pride Month jacket via selfie filter. The Shoppable feature is first enabled by scanning a QR code found at select stores or by getting a special Snapcode from a friend. Then, users can try on the special-edition trucker jacket via augmented reality, customizing it with one of two washes and a selection of six pins and patches. Once they complete the look, users can purchase the Pride Month Jacket—without ever leaving the app. (SJ)

Amazon’s new Echo Dot Kids Edition revamps the original. The new smart speakertakes many cues from the adult version’s second generation (it’s louder and rounder) but adds special features just for kids that go beyond a rainbow-striped color scheme. The device will come with a year of FreeTime Unlimited, a subscription service that includes popular Alexa skills like Pinkfong’s Baby Shark Adventures, as well as an enhanced parental control suite to address growing privacy concerns. (VarietyCNET)

Quote of the Day: “Young people still have an incredible interest in the Olympic Games…But the way they are consuming the Olympic Games—the type of content they are watching and the ways and the platforms on which they are watching—are fundamentally changing.”—Kit McConnell, Sports Director, International Olympic Committee (Bloomberg)

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