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Young consumers and celebrities
Autor(es): Ana Jorge

Temas: Comportamento do Consumidor

Resumo:
This paper reflects on the marketing relationship between celebrity culture and young consumers. Based on PhD research, we try to understand the ways in which celebrity culture interacts with youth culture and how consumption is favoured or not. We look at how celebrities, a category that merges information and entertainment, content and advertising, contribute not only to young people’s consumption of products (from food and clothing, to media and entertainment), but also to engage them in social marketing; and we also reflect on the possible impact on their present (and future) consumption as well as the influence in the family’s choices.
The methodology was based on individual semi-structured and group interviews, with around 50 young people aged 12 to 17, from a youth centre in a poor neighbourhood, an urban public school, a urban private school and a rural school; and fans of celebrities recruited through blogs. The interviews with young people focused on daily life, school, family, friends, life projects; media consumption and mediation, attitudes towards advertising; and relationship with celebrity culture (including identification, privacy, lifestyle, consumption, participation). We also interviewed editors of media and cultural products for young people, from teen magazines to radio and television, music label, celebrities and advertising agencies.
We conclude on the importance of celebrity culture to socialize consumption among young people, in interaction with their peer relations. Gender differences became evident, as celebrity culture tends to be negotiated as a feminine habit, but class and cultural capital proved to be more decisive in the exposure to the commercial media and in a greater acceptability of celebrity consumption recommendations, in conjunction with an eagerness to attempt integration through consumption.
In terms of social marketing, celebrities seem to have a limited capacity to engage young people, only promoting more anodyne causes, such as environment or children’s causes (bullying, anorexia), but not consumerism discourses, for instance. Young people also tend to be critical of celebrities’ political endorsements.
Fans are more reflexive about their consumption, and are engaged in bricolage activities, but they are also more willing to buy products that support their idols and that express their fandom. They tend to pay more attention to the social causes their idols promote.
Although marketing theory may advocate the use of the figure of the celebrity to promote consumption in the merging of editorial and advertising discourses, young audiences can be empowered towards this scenario through consumer literacy, which strengthens their knowledge about genres and their ability to adapt their consumption to their interests and resources.
Although this study set out to analyse young people’s relationship with celebrity culture individually, and despite group interviews, the prevalence of the influence of peer culture on their media and product consumption leads us to acknowledge this as a limitation or a future line of research.
Also, we were interested in studying this phenomenon among tweens and through other methods, like visual and creative methods, in the context of families and homes but also in school environments and peer groups.

in rpm 27

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