In the recent two years, the rise of Chinese new consumer brands is in the limelight of the consumer market. These brands rely on e-commerce channels to create sales miracles and capture a legion of young fans. However, some somber voices say that these brands are just a flash in the pan, for they are only good at social media marketing but are far behind traditional and international brands in brand building.
Starting in 2021, new consumer brands began to actively explore brand value. Star endorsement, as a robust approach to strengthen branding and consumer cognition, became one of the most popular strategies for them. . Does this mean it's time for new consumer brands to build their brand awareness after making a successful debut? What are the characteristics of these new consumer brands when it comes to finding a spokesperson?
Celebrity endorsement boom
According to incomplete statistics from New Consumer Daily1, in the first and second quarters of 2021, 41 new consumer brands have announced cooperation with 33 celebrities. New consumer brands, including Sengine Coffee, male grooming brand Make Essence, and tea bag brand CHALI, announced their spokespersons for the first time.
Many of these spokesmen are top social media stars (顶流), young idols (偶像), and newly emerging clouts (新晋流量明星) . These spokesmen have one thing in common: they have huge social media traffic, a huge fan base and strong appeal to fans. These traits help them to become queens or kings of driving sales. Brands partner with these influencers to leverage their Internet traffic to deliver brand impact.
The top social media star Xiao Zhan is a typical example. His popularity expresses through a large number of subscribers: Douyin 11.23 million followers and Weibo 29.26 million followers. He gets 5 to 6 million likes for every Weibo post. Xiao Zhan's endorsement of the two Chinese new consumer brands, Usmile and OCAK, has led to skyrocketed sales. Usmile became the only domestic brand in the top 10 best-selling personal care brands during the Tmall 618 shopping festival2. OCAK also beat out Wang Baobao, who was Tmall top 1 cereal brand for two years, to become the champion in this year’s 618.
Russian star Lelush was one of the most talked-about idols in the first half of 2021 due to the popular talent show Produce Camp 2021, also named Chuang 2021 (创造营2021). Participation in the competition brought unprecedented popularity to Lelush. Only a month had passed since the end of Produce Camp 2021, Lelush had already cooperated with many brands. New consumer brands such as Luckin, BUFFX, Moody, and HFP seized the opportunity to ride the hype wave with this emerging young idol.
In addition to the top online celebrity/star and young idlol, the newly emerging clouts show great potential in the brand endorsement.
Zhang Zhehan and Gong Jun are two newly emerging online celebrities due to the costume sword-play drama Word of Honor the two played as the leading actors, which premiered in February 2021. In the past four months, their Weibo follower number soared, as did the number of commercial endorsements. Gong and Zhang picked up nine and seven endorsements, respectively, in April alone. Gong Jun, an unknown actor before, even signed more than 30 brand endorsements and promotions, including serving as LV’s brand ambassador.
The relationship between the brand and the spokesperson
Celebrities often have a huge fan base, and their words and behaviors will be emulated by fans, resulting in huge business implications. For example, the recent buzz event "Cristiano Ronaldo refused to be paired with Coca-Cola" during the ongoing European Championship has sent Coca-Cola's shares down 1.6%, or about $4 billion (25.5 billion yuan).
Currently, Chinese new consumer brands are mostly confined to a specific consumer group. However, if they want to maintain long-term development, popularization is an inevitable step. In the process of enlarging consumer groups, spokesperson marketing is one of the most direct methods. Especially in the current Chinese society where fan economy is prevalent, the spokesperson has become a powerful tool to drive sales and enhance the brand value.