Generation-Z consumers often get overlooked in the rush to woo Chinese millennials, but this post-2000s group wields major spending power and has unique characteristics when it comes to consumer habits. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of social media, where a factor in determining some KOLs’ (key opinion leaders) influence is the age of their average follower.
At least this is what data from Secoo suggests — the research team for the luxury e-commerce platform poured through Weibo accounts to better understand the online behavior of their Gen-Z customers, including their engagement habits and which KOLs and celebrities they follow. Notably, some of Weibo’s top fashion bloggers and luxury icons overall, such as Mr. Bags and photographer Chen Man, didn’t make it into the top five ranking for users born after 2000, despite their high performance in numerous other categories.
According to Secoo analyst Chen Rui, this is because KOLs like Mr. Bags mainly target followers who are “slightly mature, around 30 years old, and have been earning a living for at least three years.” These are followers who can generally afford the luxury handbags from brands Mr. Bags works with. “But that doesn’t mean Gen Z make up a small portion of Secoo’s consumers,” Chen noted.
“What we discovered is Secoo’s users not only follow luxury-related accounts, but also enjoy following fun, comedic online content,” Chen said. “This indicates that luxury consumers are not just people who are more likely to follow KOLs that are simply earnest and informative, they also need a lot of time for entertainment.”
Thus, according to Secoo, accounts with more comedic content are likely to drive engagement (likes, shares and @’s) compared to straight-down-the-line fashion and beauty KOLs on Weibo. Gen-Z consumers are considerably more opinionated and thus driven to watch and respond to more emotional content online, but they’re also usually multi-tasking and have short attention spans. It’s no surprise then that several of their favorite KOLs on Weibo are known for creating and posting short, witty video content. These KOLs also often post across Douyin and other short video platforms, reframing their content as needed to fit the platform.
The white paper also suggests Gen-Z consumers have a higher rate of engagement on Weibo compared to their slightly older counterparts, especially when it comes to celebrity accounts. Secoo notes that popular influencers and celebrities for the Gen-Z group that receive the highest engagement include the famous boy band TFBOYS, as well as actress Tiffany Tang, the brand ambassador for Chloé, Bally, and Roger Vivier.
So who are Gen-Z consumers following? Not all of the KOLs below would be considered comedians or entertainers, but their content goes a step further than the average fashionista to present a point-of-view and express individuality, all of which no doubt appeals to a highly expressive generation. While there is no definitive information in the report as to exactly how much these Gen-Z consumers are spending on Secoo, or whether their favorite KOLs are driving them to make big purchases online, marketers can still count on the ranking below as a guide for what types of online personalities and content will inspire them and start thinking of creative brand touchpoints in these spaces — something that’s especially important when a larger proportion of China’s Gen-Z prefer to shop via social media.
Here are Gen Z’s top five luxury KOLs and celebrities on Weibo, according to Secoo’s research.
Top Gen-Z KOLs
Yang Yufei is not your average sweetheart fashionista. A 23-year-old tattoo artist from Yunnan, Yang has made a name for herself on Douyin and Weibo for her elaborate cosplay photoshoots, dark “cool girl” personality, and her unusual solid black tattooed forearm. Her artistic style lends itself well to travel shoots and made-for-Instagram backdrops, all peppered with shots of Supreme logos, elaborate nail art, and Louis Vuitton accessories.
A beauty and lifestyle blogger and vlogger from Wenzhou, 六金 stands out among her peers and is celebrated for a freckle on her nose that many of her fans say brings her good luck. Her posts consist of a mix of street-style shots, makeup tutorials, and styled fashion shoots.
This popular entertainment and gossip account allows followers to catch up on the happenings involving their favorite “wanghong” or internet celebrities.
Naomi, also known as Kang Yaxin, was a contestant on “Road to the Runway,” a show similar to “America’s Next Top Model.” She is known for her unique Western-style features and sex appeal. The Shanghai-based model takes her massive following behind the scenes at Miu Miu parties, on trips to New York and Bali, and in the gym to learn about her fitness routines.
A master of video who got his big break back in 2014, Liuyang “Cary” has collaborated with a wide variety of luxury, beauty, and lifestyle brands from BMW and Nissan, to Bvlgari and Urban Decay. There’s no sign of his acclaim waning anytime soon — last year, the vlogger and his team received an investment from Shell Video and Weimeng Media to continue to develop high-quality content.
Top Gen-Z Celebrities
Ni Ni is a 30-year-old actress with a wide variety of brand partners, including Gucci and Japanese beauty label SK-II. Chinese fashion blogger Modish once wrote that part of what makes the actress so appealing to brands and her followers is that she “has a standard diamond-shaped face that looks classy and high-end…she can make low-cost street-styled clothing look like haute couture fashion.”
Chinese darling Bai Jingting, a famous male “little fresh meat” star, has a major Gen-Z following, likely for his baby-faced good looks. He’s worked with the likes of Gucci, Nike, and, somewhat surprisingly, a Nestlé baby formula brand.
Turbo Liu, or Liu Haoran, is another famous little fresh meat star and award-winning actor, and he is getting another boost in popularity from his upcoming voiceover role in the highly anticipated “How to Train Your Dragon 3.” His talent is far-reaching — a number of luxury labels, including Louis Vuitton, Kiehls, Tiffany & Co., as well as FCMG and local brands, have collaborated with him. Most recently, he’s been sharing his campaign for LV’s Tambour Horizon second-generation smartwatch.
The Hong Kong-born actor is a daring style icon and the face of Ermenegildo Zegna. When the Italian menswear brand launched its luxury X streetwear collection XXX in September, William Chan worked alongside EXO star Sehun to raise brand awareness internationally, spanning events in Miami, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul.
Best known in the luxury landscape for his stints with Burberry and Bvlgari, the hip hop artist and former K-pop star works with a variety of brands, from L’Oreal to Chivas Regal. Most recently, he was singled out, along with “Glee” star Darren Criss and actor Timothée Chalame, for his stand-out style. during a performance on Eastern TV, sporting an Alexander McQueen embroidered jacket.