If we take a look at the celebrity rankings since July, a few regulars have dominated the top of the list, namely actors Xiao Zhan, Li Xian, and Wang Yibo, all of whom starred in hit summer TV shows. Noticing their newly-found popularity, brands have moved in to quickly tap into their commercial value. Just on his own, Li Xian took on four new brand ambassadorships and has appeared on eleven fashion magazines, while Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo saw similar accolades and commercial opportunities. One brand, though, stood out by snapping up two top celebrities at once: Estée Lauder.
The brand appointed Li Xian to represent its skincare and beauty line in the APAC region in September and announced Xiao Zhan would become the face of its fragrance and beauty line just a few days ago. This has quickly brought a rush of commercial success to the group, and ahead of Singles Day, Estée Lauder opened up pre-orders for fans of the celebrities and the brand. According to Tmall, the company achieved $70 million (500 million yuan) in the first 25 minutes of the pre-sale, quickly beat sales records from last year’s Singles Day.
On the brand’s Weibo post announcing Xian Zhan’s appointment, which has garnered 88,064 reviews on Tmall thus far, the actor posed with a lipstick priced at $38 (270 yuan) that was said to be “curated” by the star. Sales were likely accelerated by a special deal where pre-orders each come with a free actor-themed calendar and added skincare products. One fan who was aware of Xiao’s record-breaking popularity even wrote on Weibo, “let’s make Singles Day record with Xiao Zhan,” advocating for more people to buy products to show their support of the heartthrob.
Meanwhile, Li Xian shot an advertising campaign for a 30 ml bottle of liquid foundation priced at $69.25 (490 yuan), and under the corresponding Weibo announcement post, excited fans showed off their purchase receipts in the comments section. It’s been said Li Xian’s masculine look and boyfriend role on TV attracts older fans — mostly women between 25-34 years old — that have more disposable income.
As Estée Lauder has proven, choosing the latest celebrity to showcase a product is vital for brands that want to gain commercial success in China because of the country’s feverish fan economy. Unlike in the West, fans in China prefer to invest emotions — and dollars — to show support for their idols while watching their career flourish. They understand how important brand ambassadorship is for an idol’s commercial value and are even willing to show off their purchase receipts on social media to help them gain favor with the brand and netizens everywhere.
That’s why the competition to sign the hottest celebrities is fierce and requires an early investment. In a recent Jing Daily interview with Vivian Wang, CMO of the Chinese video streaming site iQiyi, she disclosed that fashion and beauty brands often come to them to look for the next hot celebrity to sign. Li Xian, the new golden boy for brands, rose to fame by starring in iQiyi’s original hit show “Go Go Squid!.” However, for brands eyeing the next Li Xian, they should remember that overly-relying on the fan economy could also leave them with lower-than-usual customer loyalty. That’s because once the brand ambassador has signed off, customers will likely leave with them. Brands should choose a star that fits the brand DNA to hold the interest of fans and create a longer win-win situation.
The following ranking of the 20 top celebrity influencers in June is calculated by using data from Weibo’s Fan Base (calculating Activity, Adorable, and Social Influence Indexes), Toutiao, Baidu, and WeChat.
Weibo assumes the most weight, as it’s the platform where fan engagement can be traced. The Baidu, Toutiao, and Wechat indexes are more based on search behavior. The data from Weibo helps indicate the commercial value of each celebrity, especially for the Adorable Index where fans actually use a pay function to express their admiration for a celebrity.
- Activity Index: The Activity Index counts the number of interactions on Weibo, which is a statistical indicator of interactions (including forwarding, commenting, likes, replying to comments, and comment likes on Weibo) generated by the content posted by the star over the past 30 days (including posts and comments).
- Adorable Index: This refers to the fans’ contribution to the celebrity. Weibo has a mechanism where fans can contribute their admiration to the celebrity by giving virtual flowers which aren’t free. The adorable index is generated from the number of flowers the celebrity receives monthly.
- Social Influence Index: There’s a large number of users publishing microblogs daily that mention celebrities. These microblogs are read by other users, and the number of readings reflects the recent popularity of a celebrity. In addition, a large number of users search for celebrities on Weibo every day, and the search volume generated also reflects the recent popularity of those celebrities. This data adds up to the social influence index of the celebrity.