Global: Do celebrity scandals impact consumers’ appetite for their work?
January 5th, 2023, Janice Fernandes

Global: Do celebrity scandals impact consumers’ appetite for their work?

Several brands ended their partnership with Kanye West following his antisemitic comments on social media and during public appearances. Adidas ended its lucrative nine-year deal, which resulted in the brand taking a slight hit in Consideration among UK consumers, according to YouGov BrandIndex. However, in the US, Adidas consumers and those between 18-32 years old are increasingly willing to buy from the brand.

To understand if a celebrity’s controversial comments make an impact on consumer behaviors like watching a sporting event, movie or TV series tied to the celebrity, YouGov conducted a survey across 18 global markets. Polling data shows that nearly half of global consumers (46%) would not change their consumption pattern even if a celebrity is in the news for controversial reasons. And overall, it looks like the net effect of controversy may be negligible. Roughly the same proportion of the global public say they would be more likely to consume the work of a contentious celebrity (20%) compared to those who say they would consume less (22%).

While Australian consumers (20%) mirror the opinion of global respondents, consumers in a few countries have a higher possibility of picking ‘more likely’. Consumers in UAE (48%) and India (40%), for example, are around twice as likely as the global audience to say they are more likely to consume content of celebrities who are at the center of a controversy.

According to survey data, around half of consumers in the US (50%) and GB (55%) remain indifferent to celebrity controversies. In these two markets, the number of consumers who say they are less likely to consume content of a controversial celebrity drops by half – US (25%) and GB (27%) - but that still makes consumers in these markets among the most likely to see their disapproval translate into reduced consumption.

But it’s in China where controversy is most likely to be met with disapproval. More than a third of Chinese people (36%) say they are less likely to consume the content of a contentious celebrity, compared with just 25% who say they would be more likely.

Age seems to be a factor in shaping consumer opinion on whether consumers will watch sporting events, movies or TV shows which feature controversial celebrities. Globally 29% of 18-24-year-olds say they’re more likely to watch content of a celebrity involved in controversy, compared to 9% of 55 and above consumers. Also, 26% of 18-24-year-olds pick 'less likely’, compared to 24% of those 55+, indicating that controversy is more polarizing among younger people. More than half of global consumers over 55 years (55%) pick ‘neither more nor less likely’.

However, while a few individual markets see somewhat similar patterns across different age demographics – GB (31% of 18-24-year-old vs. 28% of 55+ pick ‘less likely’) – older consumers in other markets seem to be less accommodating of controversial stars. For example, older Americans are seven percentage points more likely than younger ones to tune out of the content of contentious stars – (24% of 18-24-year-old vs. 31% of 55+).

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Methodology: YouGov RealTime Omnibus provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18 and over in 18 markets with sample sizes varying between 513 and 2008 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in August 2022. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov RealTime Omnibus.

Photo by Daria Volkova on Unsplash