China's 'Internet celebrity economy'

By Zhang Lulu
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 9, 2015
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Zhang Dayi, an Internet celebrity and owner of a lucrative online shop, poses in an outfit at her shop. [Photo/]

Internet celebrities are often "grassroots" people who are from all walks of life, including models for fashion magazines, independent designers, photographers and so on. Zhang Dayi told reporters that she is not an "idol" in the conventional sense, but more of a friend to her followers. "Some girls become more confident when they wear clothing bought from my shop. Once they get recognition from men they like or from their boyfriends because of the clothes, they tell me," she said.

Data from Taobao shows that females account for 71 percent of the consumers who make purchases from celebrity shops, with 76 percent of them from the ages of 18 to 29 years old in Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou and the other first-tier Chinese cities.

Buyers are attracted to these stores not only because they imagine themselves looking as attractive as the web celebrities when they don the same clothing, but sometimes also because they project themselves as having a fancy life mirroring the lives of Internet celebrities. Many of their photos are shot in stylish places in foreign countries, industry analysts also commented.

Apart from simply selling clothes online, some of the more ambitious web celebrities are already commanding the attention of investment capital companies.

Chen Dandan, one of China's earliest fashion bloggers and now the CEO of Taoshijie, a mobile phone application which provides domestic consumers with overseas products, announced in August that the platform received a US$30 million investment after having already attracted investments worth millions of yuan in both 2013 and 2014.

At the same time, some industry incubators have cropped up to provide packaged solutions to the shops run by social media celebrities. While web celebrities maintain their interaction with their fans and keep recommending products, the incubators will focus on shop operation, supply chain, design, and so on.

Some industry analysts are concerned that the "Internet celebrity economy" will not develop into a large market as it is heavily dependent on fans and some of the celebrities are short of experience doing business, while some analysts are hopeful that the celebrities may foster independent design and nurture entrepreneurship among young Chinese.

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