Will Luxury Hold Bilibili’s Sexism To Account?

What Happened: China’s largest entertainment site Bilibili is continuously under fire from China’s netizens over inappropriate content. This time, a Japanese anime (Unemployed Rebirth) has sparked debate and is dividing users with its controversial storyline. And the response from Bilibili — which is beloved by ACG fans — has failed to quell the situation adequately. For many, it’s too little, too late. Citizens and local brands, such as Sigo, Sofy, and Ukiss, are either leaving or boycotting the platform in droves. Netizens are now calling out brands who they say are not addressing the issue or simply, “playing taichi,” (such as L’Oréal, Nars, Winona and more). According to them, by failing to acknowledge the issue, brands are, ultimately, facilitating Bilibili’s lack of respect for its female users. 

Jing Take: Bilibili is now one of the most recognizable names in China’s online advertising market. International luxury brands including Estée Lauder, Fendi, Chanel, Gucci, and Dior have all collaborated with the platform. Its 2020 third quarter financial results reported advertising revenues of $82.1 million, an increase of 126 percent from the same period in 2019. 

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But China’s version of YouTube is not alone: the question of how to deal with inappropriate content, including sexism, is a serious issue facing social platforms the world over. On the mainland, however, sexism holds a deep cultural relevance given the social barriers many Chinese women face. Even though 2020 marked a big year for women’s issues, heated debates on gender equality persist on Chinese social media. And, for Bilibili, this is an issue that keeps resurfacing. With over a 197.2 monthly active users, especially as close to 45 percent identify as female, this is an issue that can no longer be ignored.

Given that young Chinese women are global luxury’s biggest driving force, companies and brands have the power to hold Bilibili to account by standing up for their female consumers — or else. Should Bilibili lose its lucrative advertising contracts, the site would be decimated (monthly paid users only total 15 million). Brands that take an active stand to call out sexism, and other such issues, on the platform will be rewarded. Doesn’t a massive proportion of this market rely on, well, women? (Not to mention all those who have their back?)

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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