The Internet celebrity economy converts fans into purchasing power through targeted marketing which takes fashionable Internet celebrities as its image spokespeople and their aesthetic tastes as leading factors.
In recent years, this economy has experienced an explosive growth in China with a boost in capital. As of May 2018, the total number of Internet celebrity fans was 588 million, with the total economy exceeding 2 trillion yuan ($283 billion).
In Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, live-streaming e-commerce is booming and there are many newly built commercial zones where incubating companies and live-streaming companies and studios have settled.
Viya is the most popular Internet celebrity on the live-streaming platform of Taobao, the Chinese e-commerce giant. With a huge professional team, she has created a record of driving sales by 267 million yuan ($37.7 million) in two hours, bringing in 2.7 billion yuan ($382 million) in 2018 by advertising goods during her live streams. Many other Internet celebrities have made a fortune and become an essential part of marketing campaigns.
However, many problems have arisen with this new phenomenon. Due to the fact that Internet celebrities with more followers can get more money and opportunities, many people are motivated to fake the number of fans and views they have. In addition, tax evasion, plagiarism and lack of supervision are also problems that have a negative impact on industrial development.
How to regulate and guide the Internet celebrity economy toward a sustainable development pattern is the issue which commercial platforms, Internet celebrities and regulators should all be concerned about and together make concerted efforts to find an answer.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article originally published in China Newsweek on August 12)