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Millennials Are Wary of Celebrity Endorsements

And nearly four in 10 think paid endorsements erode credibility

The practice of celebrity endorsements appears to be in trouble with at least one key demographic—millennials.

A wide-ranging survey of US millennial internet users from Roth Capital Partners found that the vast majority of respondents, 78%, either had a negative view of celebrity endorsements, or were indifferent to the practice with regard to making a purchase.

That outcome actually seems to reflect a wider attitude in which celebrity endorsements are losing their sheen.

A separate survey of US adult internet users from Collective Bias conducted in July found that only 22.1% of respondents said they were more willing to purchase a holiday gift from an unknown brand or retailer on the strength of a celebrity endorsement.

Roth Capital Partners also found millennials were similarly conflicted about influencers, who don't always fit into the "celebrity" category. About one-third of millennials polled remained unconvinced that their best interest is top of mind for digital influencers.

And another 34% were indifferent to the idea of digital influencers looking out for them.

Pay for play similarly raised concerns, with nearly four in 10 respondents saying that paid endorsements erode both influencer and celebrity credibility.

Zachary Cantor, director of decision sciences at digital marketing company GlobalWide Media, notes that identifying the right influencers can make all the difference for campaigns that rely on them.

"Influencer marketing tools can, for example, build a social graph to identify users—not necessarily celebrities—that are inclined to influence others and then intelligently message those users through cross-device campaigns," he said.

Roth also found that repetition appears to play an important role in influencer campaigns. More than half of millennials surveyed said an influencer's repeated use of a product was more important than a one-time endorsement.