It’s an undeniable fact that the Internet has completely revolutionized the way that the newest generation of consumers receives and processes information. Through online hubs, marketers are able to provide Millennials, the predominant force on the web, with a clear line of communication. Businesses are given the space to produce a steady stream of new content to interest Millennials with short attention spans as well as grant their audiences an outlet to make their own suggestions about the developments they would like to see.

Considering this emphasis on direct interaction, then, it’s a simple leap to assume that teens nowadays are influenced greater by celebrities that do the same. A recent survey from Variety discovered that YouTube stars are now more popular than mainstream celebrities among US teens. As a result, teens are more likely to make purchases based on YouTube star sponsorship.

Among Americans ages 13-18, the top five most influential figures are all YouTube stars, beating out mainstream celebrities including the Jennifer Lawrence and Katy Perry, two of the biggest figures in pop culture today.

In a way, though, it’s understandable. YouTube stars are the ones who pioneered the concept of building an online audience. Mainstream celebrities are able to build off the basic platform of concerts, movies, and TV shows. The publicity from these outlets is enough to garner success, as evidenced by JLaw skyrocketing to fame following The Hunger Games. However, this also means that they are often defined by the media glorification of their on-screen or on-stage presences, which can transform them into static figures.

In contrast, YouTube stars, who are often referred to as “internet personalities” for a reason, develop their brand identity through their own original content. They build up their followings based on their own personas showcased in their videos. They connect with people through comments and reply videos. As a result, audiences feel as though they know them on a personal level, creating a sense of intimacy and trustworthiness.

YouTube stars also offer their audiences consistent and easily-accessible new content, giving them a constant presence in the Millennial mind. This also marks a stark difference from the dead time spent waiting for the release of Katy Perry’s new album or the next dystopian young adult movie.

It’s becoming clearer that Millennials are the biggest marketing concern at the moment, not only because of the sheer size of this generation’s population but also because of their influence on the future of consumerism. If brands want to continue finding new ways to appeal to the younger generation, though, then it might be worth reconsidering who to approach to sponsor a new product.

Constance Kaita, MSD Intern