Can Older Chinese Stars Save Luxury Brands?

What Happened: This summer, Call Me By Fire (披荆斩棘的哥哥) became one of China’s most popular reality shows after multiple idol-casting shows were canceled by authorities due to explosive celebrity scandals and toxic fan culture. The hashtag for the show on Weibo garnered over 637 million views ever since it premiered on August 12 — a massive amount of social traffic.

The newly released program, featuring actresses and male musicians in their thirties, forties, and even fifties, is a counterpart to Sister Who Make Waves (乘风破浪的姐姐), which has been running for two seasons. The performances by its featured male stars, all of whom were teen idols of Chinese Gen Xers and millennials in their heyday, have resonated with nostalgic local audiences.

The Jing Take: After recurring “little fresh meat” idol scandals in China, luxury brands must rethink their strategies of leaning so heavily on celebrity endorsements in China. Although their social followings are smaller than today’s A-list young idols, mature celebrities have proven reputations through a long-term dedication to their craft. Also, their fans are more loyal, rational, and critical than the fickle fans of younger talents.

More importantly, as younger idol fan bases are predominantly females, their endorsements have barely engaged male demographics. With abundant spending power and a rising self-awareness of fashion, male Chinese consumers deserve brand attention. As such, more established, middle-aged acting and musical talents could be good casting alternatives for luxury houses, particularly when they focus on menswear.

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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