It is common for luxury and fashion brands to enlist celebrity key opinion leaders (KOLs) to attract consumers. Celebrities wield enormous power in the fashion industry and exert massive influence upon their followers. Choosing the right KOL for a new marketing campaign can be the difference between success and failure.
International luxury brands are using these same strategies in China, but in partnership with local KOLs. From Michael Kors’ new brand ambassador Yang Mi, Louis Vuitton’s partnership with Lu Han and Fan Bingbing, to Burberry’s collaboration with Zhou Dongyu and Kris Wu, this practice is catching on quickly as the country’s luxury market continues to grow and flourish.
A new report released by Alibaba Research Institute confirms that the celebrity KOL strategy is highly effective in raising the brand awareness, engaging with the audience and boosting sales in China. Chinese consumers are found to be quite enthusiastic about buying the same items that are worn and used by celebrities they follow.
The findings suggest more than 400 million Chinese consumers searched specifically for celebrity-endorsed luxury and fashion items on the Taobao marketplace from July to September this year. To put that into perspective, each day more than 4.5 million people actively looked to purchase the same products that Chinese celebrities have worn and used.
Alibaba’s report also offers a ranking of current hip Chinese celebrities according to their commercial value. The top leading player is Chinese actress Yang Mi, who recently became Michael Kors’ brand ambassador. South Korean pop star G Dragon, who has frequently appeared at French fashion powerhouse Chanel’s events, comes in second. Louis Vuitton’s Lu Han and Fan Bingbing are ranked as third and fourth on the list, followed by Shawn Yue, Tommy Hilfiger’s Chinese brand ambassador, and Guli Nazha, Italian luxury label Fendi’s Chinese brand ambassador. Zhou Dongyu and Kris Wu, who both have collaborated with the British fashion brand Burberry, ranked respectively eighth and tenth on the list.
A closer look at the gender ratio of these celebrities’ followers finds that over 80 percent of them are female. The exception is Guli Nazha, whose fans are very well balanced between men and women. In terms of age range, most followers are between 18 to 30 years old, with a small percentage of them over 40.
The report further points out that the above-listed celebrities, due to their different public images and careers, have varying levels of influence in terms of driving sales of different types of products. For example, Yang Mi is most effective in promoting designers’ handbags, jeans, and sneakers. People like to purchase masks, toothpaste and digital cameras endorsed by Lu Han. Victoria’s Secret’s supermodel Liu Wen is good at boosting the sales of slippers, lipsticks and handbags.
The study also takes into the consideration of the spending ability of the above-listed celebrities’ followers. Though Yang Mi is the most commercially influential, the spending power of her fans ranks behind Zhou Dongyu, Liu Wen, and G Dragon. Followers of Zhou Dongyu have the highest purchasing power, as her fans are found to frequently buy high-value items such as fur and earrings.