Business / Industries

Celebrity economy set for explosive growth in China

By Meng Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-16 07:54

Celebrity economy set for explosive growth in China

Busy workers of Taobao stores run by Internet celebrities select goods and gifts for their customers. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"Every Internet celebrity represents a different style, reflecting different tastes and attitudes of their fans."

That is why, even a small group of fans could spell a fortune for cyber stars.

Ding Chenlin, a veteran entrepreneur in China's e-commerce sector, said in the mobile Internet era, it doesn't take millions of fans to be an Internet celebrity. "If you can cultivate 1,000 loyal fans, you, too, can make something out of it.

"You don't even need to be extremely smart or beautiful to do that. The thing is, you first need to know who you are and what makes you different from the others."

Qi Ting, a 25-year-old from Hunan province, is a typical Wanghong fan. For the past three years, she has been following several Internet celebrities, mainly those in her age-group and others who interact with her.

"They share their views, experiences and expertise. That saves me time as I don't have to go searching online for clothes or bags. The Internet can be confusing, even stressful, as countless items vie for my attention. Also, the clothes recommended by these cyber stars are very suitable for everyday use. Their prices are not that high compared with those advertised and discussed in fashion magazines," Qi said.

A report published by Guotai Junan Securities Co in January said each Internet celebrity is a brand in herself/himself that caters to diverse, fragmented demands of online shoppers. "The market driven by Internet celebrities in China has great potential with the clothes sector alone being estimated at more than 100 billion yuan."

What's more, the overall size of the Wanghong economy is growing as cyber stars are going beyond the fashion industry and into online gaming, travel and baby products, according to the report.

Ge Wei, vice-president of Youku Tudou Inc, a leading online video site in China, said more and more Internet celebrities are publicizing their lifestyle through online videos.

"There are plenty of business opportunities out there as long as you build up a clear image," she said. "We have a travel program made by a Chinese father in Japan. It is basically about taking his two children out to eat and play, to generally have a good time. But every time he uploads a new video, sales of his Taobao shop go up," she said, adding the program has 110,000 subscribers online.

But an online store on Taobao is not essential for Internet celebrities to rake in the moolah. Cooperation with established brands could take the form of embedded subliminal advertisements in their videos, or hyperlinks in their Weibo posts and online articles.

"These cyber stars are not like superstars who need to maintain some kind of image as idols. Cyber stars are more linked to the grassroots, they are not afraid of being themselves, so their programs are more entertaining and better meet the tastes of young netizens," Ge said.

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