PewDiePie has as much name recognition among Gen Z as Lebron James, and more recognition than Elon Musk or Steph Curry

GettyPewDiePie, also known as Felix Kjellberg.
  • PewDiePie’s name is just as recognisable to Gen Z as Lebron James – and PewDiePie has a higher favorability ranking than James – according to a new Morning Consult survey.
  • The study polled Gen Z and millennials about their favourite influencers and the social media they use to follow them.
  • In the influencer industry, YouTube is king – four of the five most popular influencers among survey respondents are YouTubers (Kylie Jenner is the exception).
  • The study also showed gender fault lines among young people, with men more likely to use YouTube and women more inclined to use Instagram.
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Members of Gen Z are more likely to recognise the names of some YouTubers than major celebrities, according to a new study by Morning Consult.

The study gauged how millennials and Gen Z follow influencers, finding that 72% of respondents regularly check in with influencers in some capacity.

There are some some sharp rifts between millennial and Gen Z culture, according to the study – for instance, most teens have a favourable outlook of Shane Dawson, but the majority of older millennials don’t know who he is.

Millennials and Gen Z are highly likely to make decisions about what products to buy based on the influencers they follow, according to the study. That finding is likely unsurprising to anyone who follows beauty YouTube – earlier this month, YouTubers Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star released a makeup line together that sold out in minutes.

The habits of millennials and Gen Z also vary based on gender, political alignment, and race, the study found.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the Morning Consult’s survey of millennials and Gen Z:


PewDiePie has as much name recognition among Gen Z males as Lebron James, and has a higher favorability rating than James.

Of Gen Z men surveyed, 95% recognised the name PewDiePie, and the same number recognised Lebron James. By contrast, 99% had heard of Justin Bieber, 86% had heard of Steph Curry, and 84% had heard of Elon Musk.

Favorability didn’t track with name recognition – 62% of Gen Z males had a favourable view of PewDiePie and 55% had a favourable view of Lebron James. Only 18% had a favourable view of Justin Bieber.


Men prefer to follow influencers on YouTube, while women are more likely to use Instagram.

Getty Images; YouTubeFrom left: YouTubers Jeffree Star, Ryan ToysReview, and PewDiePie.

Men and women across generations are split on which social media they’re most likely to use – YouTube is most used by men, with 53% of Gen Z men and 41% of millennial men using Youtube, while 43% of Gen Z women and 40% of millennial women use Instagram.

Millennials are far more likely to use Facebook to follow influencers than Gen Z – 19% of millennial men and 26% of millennial women use the site, while just 1% of Gen Z men and 4% of Gen Z women do, according to the survey.


The survey respondents varied widely when asked their favourite influencers, but the most popular responses were PewDiePie, Jeffree Star, Shane Dawson, Marikiplier, and Kylie Jenner.

AP/Evan Agostini/Invision

Respondents were asked to name their three favourite influencers, and most influencers given in answers were only named once or twice. Other “influencers” named include David Dobrik, Will Smith, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders.

Of the top five most popular influencers, Kylie Jenner is the only one who isn’t a YouTuber.


Zendaya is one of the most popular celebrities among teen girls.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for MTV

Zendaya received the highest favorability score from Gen Z women, with 72% reporting a favourable view – higher than Rihanna (71%), Ellen DeGeneres (69%), and BeyoncĂ© (67%).


Many of the top influencers are highly divisive, with most respondents holding either positive or negative views on the social media stars rather than neutral opinions.

Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

Among the most polarising influencers are James Charles, Jeffree Star, Tati Westbrook, and Kylie Jenner.


The traits that Gen Z and millennials care about most in influencers are “authentic,” “funny,” “knowledgeable,” and “intelligent.” Meanwhile, most respondents said they don’t care about traits like physical attractiveness, an exciting lifestyle, or having a large following.


Read Morning Consult’s “The Influencer Report: Engaging Gen Z and Millennials” here.

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