I was in Verbier a couple of weeks ago. And so was the Freeride World Tour. The result: I have the autograph of Xavier de Le Rue on my Burton Supermodel snowboard. With little red hearts, too. Aah! Blaaah! That is so X-generation…
Fan culture has always been an important part of youth culture. And marketers have been exploiting this accordingly. However, fan culture and the role of celebrities have experienced quite some changes during the last ten years I’ve been doing youth research. People relate to celebrities mainly through media. So, recent radical changes in media environment have affected fan culture too.
Some years ago, a Finnish study revealed that about half of young boys and girls wanted to become celebrities themselves rather than just admiring them. Reality TV-shows, gossip magazines, and easy access to publicity on internet made the glamorous lifestyle look attractive and achievable.
According to our latest study among 13- to 15-year-olds, fan culture is changing again as a result of social media like Facebook. Celebrities are still interesting and their lives are followed for fun. But youth don’t look up to the stars anymore. They don’t want to imitate the lifestyle of their idols and identify with them as strongly anymore. Of course, true fans are different. They still like the autographs on their boards ;-). Instead, ‘fames’ – the youngsters who are famous in their peer groups and in social networks – are more important. They are popular among their peers, known widely and in many social circles. Today, they are the ones really defining the do’s and don’ts and setting the scene.
This equalization and peer emphasis in fan culture has a vast impact on marketing and campaigning strategies and the way both celebrities and youth is involved. Marketers should find the ‘fames’ and present celebrities as more equal. When H&M sponsored the last Madonna tour, they also sponsored the truck drivers and roadies. Real people like you and me. Not just the stars on stage.
By the way, in Verbier, Xavier won. And not just my heart… <3
Source: freerideworldtour.com/C. Margot