UK Influencers: Younger Have Social Reach, but Wise Heads Carry Weight in Some Categories

Published by Steve Thomson September 15, 2017

Our recent post on the profile of (offline) influencers in the US noted the increasing importance of male Millennials, often in categories long dominated by women.  We noted that, Millennial men are 50% more likely to be consumer influencers than Millennial women, and are increasingly recommending beauty, fashion and household products, and not just for the usual male-oriented products and services such as sports or automotive.

Is the UK following the same pattern and trends?  In part, yes – but on this side of the Atlantic it’s a slightly more complex story.  Plus, it’s always worth thinking about the receiver’s viewpoint – is the influencer just a loudmouth who sprays opinions around, or are their views genuinely credible and taken note of?

Our reference point is analysis of “Conversation Catalysts®,” people with large real-world social networks who frequently give real-world and online advice about products and services. These key influencers talk about twice as many brands in a typical day (compared with the GB average), and are also much more likely to discuss all kinds of social and political topics.

UK influencers are younger...

As in the US, everyday influencers tend to be younger.  And among men, Millennials are indeed a key group – but the ‘peak influence’ age group is somewhat younger –13% of British 20-24 year-olds meet our influencer criteria.  For women, those in their late teens remain a very socially influential cohort, and in the UK this is particularly so – at 14% their influencer concentration is the highest of all.

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There’s no denying the impact of youth.  In many countries and cultures, younger people go out more, are less constrained by family responsibility, and are eager to explore what’s new and in fashion.  Influence is not only about being ‘knowledgeable’ – you have to get out and about to spread that knowledge.

…but don’t get fixated on youth

But in the UK, the age differential is lower (vs. the US), with the over 50s somewhat more socially active than in the US, with more real-world interactions with friends and neighbours (and probably closer family geographically) than older Americans.

Factor in an ageing population, it means that a large percentage of influencers are middle-aged or older – so if you are targeting influencers, it pays to think about broader age groups.  That’s especially so in categories such as finance, healthcare and travel – but even in ‘younger’ categories such as technology and beauty/personal care, the under 35s are not the only people to target

 

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Moreover, receivers tell us that the advice they receive from older people is often more credible – especially in complex categories where experience counts: finance again, automotive, the home.

So, the active social profile of young people gives them disproportionate social influence – but we caution against being fixated on Millennials.  Plenty of more mature types are keen to see what’s new out there, and spread the word with passion and authority.

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