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YouTube Sensation Emma Chamberlain — Audience Deep Dive

Jan 13, 2020 | Insights

In spring of 2017, a clever, restless, smart-alecky 16-year old high school student from San Bruno, California, started to upload videos to YouTube. Having, more or less, grown up watching the platform, she seemed to understand innately what it was she had to contribute, and a legion of fans that continues to expand to this day had an endless appetite for it.

Her name was, and remains, Emma Chamberlain, and not even three-years later, she is one of the most widely-recognized, written about, and viewed creators on the platform.

What does StatSocial have to contribute to the ongoing Emma Chamberlain discourse? Below we explore millions of Emma’s biggest fans; revealing the demographic make-up, the media affinities, other favorite influencers, brands, hobbies, personality traits, and Digital Tribe associations of this substantial, and still growing, audience.

With this look at the woman whose name is one of the first uttered when the conversation turns to influencers, we provide an overview of just how invaluable StatSocial’s insights are when it comes to everything from pairing a brand with an influencer, planning or gauging the success of a campaign or partnership, or any of the thousands of other market research undertakings required to keep a business growing.

A BIT ABOUT EMMA

If familiar, you can just scroll down to the section header “A BIT ABOUT STATSOCIAL” below.

Emma Chamberlain first made a splash on YouTube, in 2017, with videos that were the very definition of #relatable, and not in a way that was at all contrived. Many teens felt she was just like them. And fair enough, she was. Perhaps, though, she was just that little bit funnier, maybe a touch more clever. Or maybe a lot.

Chamberlain first gained momentum very early in her YouTube career, picking up over 150k subscribers in August of 2017. Her channel’s growth continued at nearly that rate for about a year, at which time things truly exploded.

But let’s back up a bit.

During the first semester of the school year that followed her debut summer, Emma — with her parents’ guidance and approval — set about taking the California High School Exit Exam, passing it, and proceeding, at still only 16, with her post-high school life as a full-time YouTuber.

As 2017 turned to 2018, Emma’s channel’s growth continued to gallop, and she was starting to earn a nice living, ever-increasingly being picked over and studied by onlookers. “What precisely,” many wondered, “is the secret to her success?

That June, she moved to Los Angeles, alone, at 17-years of age. This relocation from her Bay Area hometown allowed her to capitalize on the opportunities her meteoric rise had created, including video collaborations with a number of bigger YouTubers. This in turn saw her subscriber and view counts swell ever-larger. New viewers maybe came to her channel because of her association with one favorite creator or another, but they stayed because of Emma.

While the debate over whether or not success has changed her is getting to be an old one now, the truth is that she is very much the same girl who emerged during that summer two-and-a-half-years ago. She rarely wore makeup on camera (she appears on camera bare-faced, frequently, to this day), she belched, she cussed, she was self-deprecating, while also very critical of the excesses of young celebrity and influencer culture, she was forthright about her frustrations with school, and her life in general, she was relentlessly silly, but also sardonic, and she was gleefully shameless in her flagrant over-use of iMovie’s cheesiest editing tricks (many of which, by then, were already memes of sorts, but she elevated their overuse to being something of a signature style).

She has better equipment now, and her concerns have naturally evolved and changed, but what made her content endearing then is still present in ample supply.

Emma’s first American magazine cover. The February 2020 issue of Cosmopolitan.

Emma doesn’t pretend that her life is the same as it was, nor has she ever claimed that she hasn’t changed. How could she avoid it?

At first glance, a kid who finds quick success on YouTube, takes the fast lane out of high school, and moves to Hollywood on her own while still a minor, might prompt parents to raise an eyebrow.

Truthfully, though, when it comes to people your teen might admire, you could do a lot worse.

The values she promotes, both overtly and implicitly, are ultimately good ones. She’s clearly hard-working and driven. She still edits her own videos, when most young influencers with a quarter of her success would have handed off that duty long ago (if she did so, her output could be more prolific, which could translate to more money), but for her the edit is the truly creative part of what she does. She spends 30 hours a week, or more, editing each upload, and has developed a timing and style that one could easily imagine feeling “off” if left in the hands of a more slick, pro editor to imitate.

She is not afraid to hustle. In addition to her weekly video upload, she also does a weekly podcast, and seems to always have an eye on where her life and career will be taking her next. And, while perhaps she doesn’t deserve a medal for this, it is all the same notable that she is not drowning in the sort of short-sighted excesses many who have found her type of success, at her age, often do.

While the rumor mill has suggested that she has had some dramatic interactions with other big name YouTubers, she has never let any of that find its way onto her channel, and she generally tries to keep it well clear of her public life altogether. She’s only had one minor scandal — involving an ill-considered merch launch toward the end of 2018 — and has avoided the drama/apology/drama cycle that dominates the careers of so many influencers, in some cases by design.

While not perfect, she does seem to genuinely care about the message she sends to her fans.

And now, let us proceed, and learn a whole lot more about who those viewers, observers, and admirers are.

A BIT ABOUT STATSOCIAL

The data StatSocial utilizes for our insights is sourced from the earned engagement (meaning, what people read, like, follow, share, and talk about online) of over 300 million consumers. The analysis of all the content people engage with — which is made available in every StatSocial report — creates over 85,000 unique attributes per consumer.

Our analysis can be applied to virtually any sort of online audience you can imagine, from the customers of a certain brand, to those posting a certain hashtag or phrase, or — as is the case here — those who are fans of a specific performer or media figure (or really anything you can imagine).

The data displayed here is just a drop in the bucket compared to what you’ll find within every StatSocial report. It is all, however, easily comprehended and valuable.

HOW TO READ THE CHARTS IN THIS ENTRY

Here’s a quick guide to reading the numerous charts you’ll find below.

To start, the baseline we’re using for all of the statistics found here is the average American online audience.

To clarify: The below example indicates that 37.75% of Emma Chamberlain’s online audience are also consumers of Jeffree Star Cosmetics products. This is a segment size that exceeds the percentage of Jeffree Star Cosmetics consumers within the average American online audience by 44 times.

So, let us begin…

DEMOGRAPHICS

These most basic statistics will not leave anyone too terribly surprised, but they do confirm that the target audience is being reached.

No elaborate explanation is necessary. The audience is overwhelmingly young and female, and earns modestly.

EXPLANATION: The percent column reports the exact percentage of Emma Chamberlain’s online audience who is male or female. The index column reports the degree to which that percentage exceeds, is in line with, or falls short of our baseline. For this study, the baseline being used is the average American online audience. So, for example: 81.47% of this audience is female. This exceeds the degree to which females belong to the average American online audience by 1.63 times.

GENERAL INTERESTS

This list makes all too much sense, when considering what interests one would expect to find shared most prominently among Emma’s fans.

EXPLANATION: The percent column reports the exact percentage of Emma Chamberlain’s online audience who is interested in the corresponding line item. The index column reports the degree to which that percentage exceeds, is in line with, or falls short of our baseline. For this study, the baseline being used is the average American online audience. So, for example: 5.23% of this audience is interested in cheerleading. This exceeds the degree to which people who share this interest would be found among the average American online audience by 14.77 times.

We’ve provided a simple collage of video thumbnails (with a helpful caption), in lieu of expounding on just how “on brand” this list of interests is.

We will explain, however, that while the idea may seem a bit surprising to the Emma Chamberlain newcomer, she was in fact a self-described “sassy” cheerleader in her (even) younger years. She participated in competitive cheer for five years, and cheered for her high school before apparently getting kicked off the team.

These nine video thumbnails show the interests of Emma’s audience being addressed directly. Top Row (L-R): “Emma Chamberlain Teaches Us How to Cheerlead” (collab w/ Hannah Meloche’s channel, April 2018), “Sewing Myself An Outfit” (DIY Crafts, July 2019), “Cooking with Emma is Back” (Mexican Cuisine, February 2019). Middle Row (L-R): “Going on a Trip for No Reason” (Adventure Travel, October 2019), “I Got a Puppy???” (Dogs, February 2019), “Vegan Fast Food Review” (Fast Food, March 2018). Bottom Row (L-R): “Nose Ring Gone Wrong” (Body Art, December 2018), “Have You Heard About This???” (video announcing ‘Stupid Genius’ podcast, April 2019), “An Accurate Coachella Vlog” (Concerts, April 2019).

INFLUENCERS

As has been widely reported, Emma was recently quoted as saying, “I think the word ‘influencer’ is kind of disgusting.” Adding, “Let’s use me as an example: If someone is calling me an influencer, they’re saying that my job is to influence, and I don’t think that’s true. I prefer to entertain and be a friend. I don’t want to influence.

Emma can call herself whatever she’d like, and for the time being it seems that brands will be all too happy to associate themselves with her regardless. During summer of 2019, Time Magazine also saw fit to describe Emma — alongside the likes of Carlos Maza, Ben Shapiro, Cardi B, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — as one of ‘The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet.’

So, call them whatever you wish, but here are some “influential people on the internet” who resonate most strongly with Emma’s online audience.

It is not entirely surprising to see this list fully occupied by YouTube stars.

The list tends to favor the younger, but platform vet Shane Dawson, as well as his fiancé, Ryland Adams, turn up, as does late-20-something, former Vine star, Gabbie Hanna.

We are ill-suited to comment on any manner of YouTube tea. But, some light Googling suggests that Emma, perhaps, no longer associates with Ethan and Grayson Dolan (professionally known as The Dolan Twins). At least not as she once had, with fans speculating heavily that she was at one time romantically involved with Ethan.

We’re grown-ups here, and what a bunch of teenaged millionaires do or do not is none of our concern. BUT, while on the subject, for a period of 2018, the Dolans, Emma, and beauty mega-influencer — and 2019’s momentarily most-canceled, and then most-reinstated human — James Charles, comprised the membership of The Sister Squad. The four made a series of collaborative YouTube videos together that garnered tens upon tens of millions of views.

If only they could have made it last. They’d all be millionaires today… Oh wait!

Did they have a falling out? Well, Ethan and Grayson seem to still be brothers and twins, so that’s good. Otherwise, we defer to your knowledge. It does seem, though, that this lucrative dream team is no longer a going concern.

Emma w/ the short-lived, and now seemingly defunct, Sister Squad (as they appeared in the infamous 2018 ‘YouTube Rewind’ video). Left to Right: Grayson/Ethan Dolan, James Charles, Emma, Grayson/Ethan Dolan.

BRANDS

And everywhere influencers went, the brands were sure to follow.”

Emma has become something of a beauty and style adjacent influencer. Noted for her personal style, a popular recurring feature on her channel is the thrift store haul, or other such displays of recent clothing purchases. Still, makeup tutorials and style tips are not the bread and butter of her channel.

Emma is, also, an Instragram influencer. While she considers her time on that site a wholly secondary concern, it is nonetheless where many of her “looks” can be found well-displayed, to her millions of followers.

But truthfully, cosmetics are simply one of the top interests among the key demographic being looked at here. This list is reflective of that.

Right now, “beauty” as a concept, as a hobby, and as an industry is having a moment.

EXPLANATION: The percent column reports the exact percentage of Emma Chamberlain’s online audience who is interested in the corresponding line item. The index column reports the degree to which that percentage exceeds, is in line with, or falls short of our baseline. For this study, the baseline being used is the average American online audience. So, for example: 2.06% of this audience reads Archie Comics. This exceeds the degree to which people who share this interest would be found among the average American online audience by 29.16 times.

The king of the YouTube beauty influencer mountain (as of this writing) is also, as of 2019, one of the biggest names in the cosmetics industry. That would be Mr. Jeffree Star, and his cosmetics brand tops the list here, finding favor among Emma’s fans to a degree exceeding the quantity of his consumers that you’d find among the average American online audience by 44 times.

Another thing the young, and the young of all ages, are quite taken with these days is the TikTok, video-sharing app (finding favor among Emma’s fans to a degree exceeding TikTok users within the average American online audience by 13.62 times).

In a video Emma herself posted in December, she confessed to having recently caught the TikTok bug, and being hooked.

The brand discussion, involving Emma, does not end here. Indeed, it has only just begun.

YouTubers with a fraction of Emma’s views can make a living doing ad reads during their videos, and otherwise partnering with assorted sponsors.

While Emma does more traditional ad reads in some of her videos, she has also found herself whisked off to Paris Fashion Week (twice), as a guest of Louis Vuitton, and involved in considerably more elaborate promotions.

In the interest of gauging the influence of the woman Cosmo calls “The Most Popular Girl in the World,” we’ve taken a look at many of the most prominent brands with whom Emma has worked. We wanted to see to what degree consumers of said brands can be found among Emma’s audience

Further research would be required — and believe us, StatSocial has the necessary data for it — to prove causation, but the correlation is irrefutable.

Emma in the outfit she has sometimes worn for ad reads on her channel.

This list of some of Emma’s most prominent partners is definitely something the marketing people and/or agents who facilitated these deals would find interesting. When measured against the average American online audience, each brand finds favor among Emma’s fans to degrees exceeding that baseline.

Emma showing off one of the pairs of frames she designed in partnership with CRAP Eyewear.

The brand topping the list here, CRAP Eyewear, partnered with Emma for a line of frames she designed. It’s difficult to think this isn’t at least part of why they find customers among Emma’s fans to a degree exceeding the average American online audience by 26.14 times.

Now…

To keep this true to the spirit of the woman whose audience we’re examining, it seems right that we zero in on brands of a very specific type. As any of her fans know, Emma is approximately 20% woman and 80% coffee.

COFFEE BRANDS

Only an Emma Chamberlain neophyte could fail to answer the question, “What is Emma’s favorite coffee joint?” Here she’s seen proudly displaying a cup from the San Francisco headquartered chain, Philz Coffee.

It must be noted that Philz Coffee — the San Francisco headquartered chain, that even a passing Emma fan knows is her favorite by far — did not find a percentage of consumers here in excess of the American average.

The Oregon headquartered Dutch Bros. Coffee chain is most prominent here, with the chain’s consumers dwelling among Emma’s fans to a degree that exceeds the American average by 13.77 times.

Emma has not been shy regarding her dismissal of America’s largest coffee chain. She is not a fan. But, in this case, it would seem possible that the reach of her influence may only extend to the positive, as Starbucks finds drinkers among Emma’s fans to a degree that exceeds the American average by a considerable 5.75 times.

Roughly a year after Emma and a former partner embarked upon a troubled launch of a clothing line, designed by the then 17-year old, Emma has hit upon a proper product launch that is much more perfectly suited to her.

Emma brandishing her own personal coffee brand, intended for the purposes of making cold brew. The brand, Chamberlain Coffee, officially launched in December.

Emma has, since her earliest videos, been a strong advocate for a cold brew drink that usually begins, and recurs throughout, her day. To aid her fans in sharing in this pleasure, she has released a line of coffee bags (sort of like tea bags, but for cold brew, and of course, they’re coffee).

Chamberlain Coffee officially launched in December, and there’s every reason to suspect that should these bags sell well, more products are to be coming.

So, we took a look at how her competitors are performing among her devotees.

Maxwell House and Folgers, kingpins in this world of course, both find favor among the Emma set to degrees comfortably in excess of the American average.

PODCASTS

Emma is a podcaster, of course.

Banner for Emma’s ‘Stupid Genius’ podcast.

Right now, her podcast is the weekly ‘Stupid Genius,’ a half-hour, conceptual show. A bit of a one-woman quiz show, really.

Each week Emma is asked a basic question, such as “Why does our skin wrinkle when in water?” or “How do bioluminescent animals create light?” She is then given three guesses, and the bulk of the show is her reasoning through her answers.

It seems a smart idea for her to fit her personality into a format, rather than just jump in the deep end and begin pontificating, or interviewing guests, and it does illustrate that her unlikely charisma translates to other media.

Emma’s beloved YouTube never wanders too far, it would seem. The platform’s power couple (well, one of them), Jenna Marbles and Julien Solomita, find their podcast most prominently ranked here. Fans of the JennaJulien podcast dwell among the Emma crowd to a degree that exceeds the American average by 11.42 times.

YOUTUBE CHANNELS

We would be quite remiss were we not to give this topic a look-see in this entry. This list is not full of surprises, but it is all the same interesting.

The divisive, but all the same quite popular, Tana tops the list here. She does so, it has to be noted, to a dramatic extent. She finds fans among Emma’s online audience to a degree exceeding the American average by 111.30x.

While Tana’s high drama content would seem at odds with Emma, Ms. Chamberlain proudly declared her Tana fandom in an early video, and upon moving to Los Angeles collaborated with Mongeau on videos that no doubt boosted her sub-count considerably.

Again, we don’t concern ourselves with tea. Perish the thought. We’re an analytics and statistics company. But, to our knowledge, while it has been ages since the two have interacted publicly, there doesn’t seem to be any tea here anyway.

Tana Mongeau and Emma, May 2018.

Number two on this list, however… Well, no one’s quite sure what may or may not have transpired, but tea has been spilled, and also sipped, over discussion of what maybe went awry in the friendship of Emma and James Charles.

Our statistics can tell you a whole lot, but they can’t tell you that (and it’s just as well, seeing as it’s none of your concern). Whatever the status of their relationship, the 20-year old, future cosmetics mogul finds his fans dwelling among Emma’s crowd to a degree exceeding the American average by 88.41 times.

DIGITAL TRIBES

StatSocial Digital Tribes is a model of the U.S. population broken down into 100 distinct market segments (calculated by combining our demographic and affinity data with our Personality Insights® data; the latter powered by IBM Watson). Seeing which Tribes are present, and in what proportions, grants our users quick, crucial, and unprecedented insight into the humans who make up a given audience.

You can read more in depth descriptions of the Tribes mentioned below — by thesnappy names that we gave them, thinking we’re cute —here, and you can read a blog entry going into the whole Digital Tribes matter a great deal more in-depth here.

As outlined above, you can learn about who is found within each of the above-named tribes by visiting this link.

We will provide here, however, the description of the Tribe whose members exist among Emma’s audience to the most profound degree.

Zacks & Codys

Teens and young women, more suburbanite than cosmopolitan, who came of age admiring Disney Channel and YouTube stars. They’ve followed these performers — when possible — into their adult careers. IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® reveals this group to be outgoing and Agreeable, but also — perhaps owing to their youth — a bit Neurotic. Music fans, this is a bunch whose tastes lean toward the slightly more alternative shores of the mainstream. These tastes suggest a gentleman with well appointed eyeliner would not trouble them a bit. Perhaps accordingly, their politics lean a bit to the left.

To close, we’ll provide this tweet, from a time when Emma was not nearly as famous as she is today, wherein a fun overture is made for the affections of one of this tribe’s namesakes.

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