10 Celebrities Who Influence What We Buy

Saw this press release come through for a new book coming out – “Consumed: Rethinking Business in the Era of Mindful Spending” and couldn’t help but regurgitate it. Who DOESN’T want to know who’s influencing us these days? Is it Mel Gibson? “The Situation”? Tell us!!! ;)

And that I will…after a few more sentences. You see, at first you thought this was going to be a negative list, right? Like, a “Justin Bieber bought these $300 pair of jeans and now I need them too!” kinda list, right?  Well nope! It’s a handful of people that Andrew Benett’s company, Arnold Worldwide, says is positively influencing society (Andrew being the author of this new book).  Which is pretty cool if you ask me – I’m tired of 24/7 negativity.

Here’s Mr. Benett’s take on the state of our consumption-ness:

“For the last two decades, Americans believed bigger was better – from the size of our houses to our cars to the amount of food on our dinner plates. But the economic recession, coupled with other factors like the green movement, is fundamentally changing American attitudes. Instead of super-sizing, we’re ‘right-sizing’ and re-evaluating what’s important in life. We’re saving more, wasting less, and giving back.”

This list below showcases the celebrities who are embracing these qualities of the “mindful consumer.”  Some are obvious, and others are not ;) Copied and pasted:

Top 10 people who (positively) Influence what Americans buy

10) Ludacris – Rappers are not always known for their humility, generosity and environmentally conscious attitudes; Ludacris isn’t your average rapper. Through The Ludacris Foundation, he has donated $1.5 million to support youth-oriented, grassroots organizations and devoted more than 5,000 hours of service, all while paying special attention to his hometown of Atlanta. Did we mention that Ludacris owns a hybrid and is installing solar panels on his home?

9) Suze Orman – While the financial market collapsed, Orman’s stock rose as she convinced people what NOT to buy during the economic recession. She is viewed as a trusted financial expert, helping Americans become fiscally responsible through her television show, eight consecutive New York Times bestsellers, and frequent guest spots on a range of programs from Oprah to The Biggest Loser.

8) Indra K. Nooyi – As the CEO of PepsiCo, Nooyi wants those of us who indulge in sugary beverages to feel a little better about it. She’s championing “performance with a purpose” within the organization, which is focused on creating more wholesome products and increasing sustainability practices. As part of this effort, the company has launched The Pepsi Refresh Project. The socially driven campaign allows individuals and organizations to post their philanthropic ideas on refresheverything.com, where the general public votes for their favorite initiatives to be funded. To help support the project, which will give away more than $20 million this year, the company passed on airing a Super Bowl ad.

7) Ellen DeGeneres – Comedienne, actress, author, CoverGirl spokesmodel, American Idol judge, talk-show host, and wife. . . Ellen DeGeneres does it all. Using her large media presence, she exposes audience members to different charities including Feeding America and the American Red Cross. DeGeneres conceals her wealth with ordinary clothes and a gracious attitude, influencing a legion of supporters through her television shows and brand sponsorships.

6) Taylor Swift – Unlike her flashy counterparts, such as Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga, there’s something genuine and down-to-earth about Swift that makes her stand out among the tween, teenage and young adult set. With her poised demeanor, saccharine pop-country crossover songs, humanitarian efforts for numerous charities, and penchant for affordable clothing—including her line of Walmart-sold sundresses that start at $14—this young superstar personifies the mindset of a new generation who want to feel good, look good and do good with (age-appropriate) style.

5) Warren Buffett – The world’s third-wealthiest person, Buffet is famously known for both his mindful spending and philanthropy. America’s foremost investor still owns the modest home bought in 1958, receives a salary of approximately $100,000 and rarely makes extravagant purchases. Most recently, Buffet auctioned off a lunch with himself that sold for $2.63 million, which will support Glide Foundation, a homeless organization based in San Francisco.

4) Oprah Winfrey – As proven time and again, the mere mention of a product by Oprah will make it a bestseller. Her personal integrity, philanthropic efforts and ability to connect with the masses will help her stay one of America’s favorite trendsetters long after her talk show ends in 2011. Up next: Oprah will start the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), further exploring issues surrounding empowerment, spirit, human relationships and giving back.

3) Stephen F. Quinn – More than three-quarters of Americans shop at Walmart every year, so whether you’re a fan or not, the retailer has influence (I dare you to click that). As Walmart’s CMO, Quinn’s leadership on sustainability efforts has a huge impact. He helped initiate strict environmental standards including high efficiency store designs, reusable bags, recycling programs and the installation of solar panels. In addition, Walmart is helping shoppers go green by introducing more energy-efficient products; locally grown produce; and the Sustainability Index, an initiative that, in the company’s own words, is “helping to create a more transparent supply chain, driving product innovation and ultimately providing our customers with information they need to assess products’ sustainability.”

2) Mark Zuckerberg – Zuckerberg makes the list not because he is particularly mindful, but because the platform he created is making savvier shoppers out of all of us. With more than 400 million active users worldwide, Facebook has become an interactive consumer haven. With the simple update of a status feed, users can get product recommendations from the most trusted source: friends and family. Plus, the platform provides a voice to grassroots organizations that want to galvanize people around the world quickly and efficiently. Brands like Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Disney are realizing the platform’s potential by generating huge fan followings, making it a marketer’s paradise. And with Zuckerberg’s influence over Internet privacy policies, he is literally changing the way we shop.

1) Michelle Obama – With the grace of Jackie and the aspirations of Eleanor, Michelle has captivated Americans. When the First Lady donned J.Crew fashions at public appearances such as The Jay Leno Show, it spiked the retailer’s clothing sales, website traffic and brand awareness. However, it is Obama’s efforts to end childhood obesity with initiatives like “Let’s Move” and the White House vegetable garden that are inspiring a nation. She is influencing (and, in some cases, incentivizing) politicians, business leaders, nonprofits, parents and the rest of us to think about what we consume.

For more info on this book: Consumed: Rethinking Business in the Era of Mindful Spending
For more info on Arnold Worldwide: ArnoldWorldwide.com

(Photo by shlomif)

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  1. Jenna July 26, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    Thanks for this post! There isn’t enough publicity for good deeds and positive influences.

  2. eric July 26, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    The Ellen DeGeneres’ “gracious attitude” is just for the cameras. Behind the scenes she is very icy. She won’t make eye contact with anyone below her important people and we were told never to come up and talk to her. I used to work on the show. Thank god I left that chilly place. Its a bit sickening seeing her on-air persona and knowing the real hidden and true persona.

  3. Adrian @ PIN July 26, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Thanks for compiling this list. I was unaware of those notes that you mentioned about Ludacris. I guess sometimes we need to look past the music/public persona to see what someone is truly all about.

  4. Carol Chretien July 26, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    Interesting list….Where is Dave Ramsey on the list? :) I’d add him as a positive force for becoming debt free.

  5. finallygettingtoeven.com July 26, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    Great list of celebs but one that I still have to wonder about is Quinn of Wal-mart. While Wallyworld always gets the bad rap (because it appears they deserve it most of the time) I just wonder if Quinn’s heart is truly in it or if he is just doing it to help drive the customers to the stores thinking that walmart actually cares about being ‘green’. I guess either way his motives should not matter even if purely selfish, it all helps in the end, right?

  6. Fontaine July 27, 2010 at 6:09 AM

    Michelle Obama in the #1 spot??
    I don’t think that’s accurate. Traditionally it has been, so maybe that’s why the author puts her in the #1 spot..but she has not been around long enough to have more influence than, say, Oprah.

  7. myfinancialobjectives July 27, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Inded a graet list. I just posted two days ago about how Warren Buffett is such a great guy due to all of his giving! I agree with Carol, where is Dave Ramsey, he is helping milliosn of people every year through his radio program and Financial Peace University!

  8. J. Money July 28, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    @Jenna – Glad you enjoyed :) Ludacris surprised me!
    @eric – Oh $hit, are you serious? That’s pretty sucky if it’s true. I heard the same thing about Conan O’brien actually. A friend of mine tried asking him a question (like, what he wanted to eat or something) and according to her he jumped down her throat and said never to look him in the eye when she’s speaking to him. Unfortunately that’s all I think about now when I see him on tv, even though I find him freakin’ hilarious! :)
    @Adrian @ PIN – Yeah, I love Luda anyways but this makes him even Pimper.
    @Carol Chretien – Haha I agree! But I didn’t make this list ;) To 10 financial gurus would be kinda cool though, I might have to jot that one down for later researching.
    @finallygettingtoeven.com – Yeah you never do *really* know w/ some people. I’m not too familiar with him and what’s true and false w/ Walmart, but as you mentioned as long as good comes out of it somewhere that’s a positive thing :) Personally I much prefer Target.
    @Fontaine – Oh for sure, Oprah is QUEEN! But I guess that’s too obvious and boring to read ;) Everyone already knows she’s a rockstar in giving back.
    @myfinancialobjectives – Hell yeah, Buffett is the man! Him and Bill Gates are tearing it up on the charity scene. Pretty big influences those ones.

  9. Katie Emig July 28, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    #6 Taylor Swift- I can say that I definitely agree that she is one amazing role model for the younger generation. When I was growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s we had bands like Spice Girls who were trying to target the younger generation but sometimes made me feel that I want to be older. Swift portrays a younger image and does not dress inappropriate like some other young artists do. Swift is very mature and a great role model for the younger generation!

  10. J. Money July 28, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    AGREED! Taylor really REALLY has a heart a gold it seems like. And actually genuine too, she’s awesome.