How Brands Can Avoid the Wrong Celebrity or Influencer in China

These days, China influencers have become a crucial investment. But how can luxury brands keep from picking the wrong one?

Key Takeaways:

  • The top question I receive from brands today is, “How can I choose the right influencer in China?”

  • Today, entire categories are often defined by a “sea of sameness,” resulting in a category’s brands becoming less defined, less distinct, lacking personality, and, ultimately, underperforming.

  •  Just paying a “pretty face” to represent a brand is not enough anymore because everyone is doing it, so it is not a competitive advantage.

There is almost no day where I am not discussing influencers with brands. In a world of massive digital acceleration where social networks have become the new real estate in terms of investment, all brands face the challenge of reaching their audience. It’s not just a “noisy world,” as the late Steve Jobs famously said when he presented his Think different campaign; it’s a world that is noisier than ever, with an ever-growing number of brands competing for the attention of target audiences.

Therefore, to break through the exponentially growing clutter, many brands turn to influencers, key opinion leaders, and stars to gain from those associations and — importantly — to reach audiences of ten to fifty million followers or more. In the past, the allure of a superstar was their sheer fame through Hollywood blockbusters. But today, the real power comes from a devoted following and the star’s ability to convince followers that their brand is the brand they should try, too. As a result, influencers seem to be the key to connecting most brands with consumers. And as a result, choosing an influencer becomes mission-critical. The question is: how?

I was recently invited to speak at an event about how Asian influencers and stars — especially K-Pop artists like Blackpink’s Lisa (ambassador for Celine) and Exo’s Kai (the “Human Gucci”) — are changing the face of brands in front of a massive worldwide audience. Unsurprisingly, the top question I received during my presentation Q&A was: “How can brands choose the right influencer?”