It’s been about three months since we first wrote about Xiao Wanzi, a virtual influencer that the Chinese cosmetics brand Perfect Diary created to help it develop a closer relationship with consumers. First, it encourages customers to join one of its hundreds of private WeChat groups led by the fictional Xiao Wanzi. Then, once consumers are in the groups, Xiao Wanzi shares special offers, new product launches, and beauty and skincare advice with them.
This virtual influencer-led strategy for gaining private traffic appears to be going well for Perfect Diary. Since our last article, Xiao Wanzi has adopted an English name — Abby — as well as an eponymous product line sold exclusively on her own e-commerce and makeup tutorial Mini Program on WeChat.
The product line is called Abby’s Choice 完子心选 and mostly consists of skincare products. Abby’s Choice products can only be purchased through the Abby’s Choice Mini Program, which she frequently shares in her WeChat groups.
This Mini Program is separate from Perfect Diary’s main e-commerce Mini Program and even features a wider range of products than what’s available in the brand’s WeChat flagship store. The Abby’s Choice Mini Program does not appear in the menu of Perfect Diary’s Official Account, and users can only access it by joining one of Abby’s WeChat groups or from a friend who has shared the Mini Program.
In addition to selling products, the Abby’s Choice Mini Program also features a page for beauty and skincare educational content. The outer page resembles a Xiaohongshu format, while the inner page content looks just like a WeChat article. There are also videos.
Although this Mini Program is somewhat hidden, it appears to have a large user base. Many articles have 30-40K views with some reaching 70-80K. Several of the more popular articles have between 200-400 comments.
Abby and her friends Minmin and Susu also regularly hold e-commerce livestreams through the WeChat Mini Program that average 60-70K viewers per stream.
That’s right: Perfect Diary has begun developing two other personas — Minmin 敏敏 and Susu 苏苏 — who also share beauty advice and have their own styles catering to different consumer types. For example, many of the Abby’s Choice product descriptions show each of the three influencers, while showing which shade or scent they prefer and why.
Believe it or not, Xiao Wanzi (Abby), Minmin, and Susu are all actual people, but those aren’t their real names or personalities. They are merely Perfect Diary employees who have essentially lent their faces to these fictional characters. While the faces may come from real people, I define them as virtual influencers — as opposed to homegrown or in-house influencers — because, aside from their faces, nothing else is real. Everything they do or say, all the content they put out, and their entire personas, are created by Perfect Diary’s marketing team.
Perfect Diary has proven time and again to be a fearless leader in China’s marketing industry, pushing old boundaries with new creative tactics that are winning over young Chinese consumers. Abby’s Choice has taken private traffic to a whole new level, not only by offering special sales to loyal consumers or early access to product launches but also by rolling out an entirely new sub-brand.
While Perfect Diary is far from a luxury brand, this strategy could easily be used by luxury brands to bring back a true sense of exclusivity in a day and age where the word “exclusive” often lacks real meaning.