Wanging it: China’s ‘Wang Hong’ internet celebs are big business
By Wang Jia

2017-06-21 20:35 GMT+8

China's internet celebrities, known as Wang Hong, are leveraging their popularity to make money among young Chinese followers like never before. They are creating an industry with real investment value, a new industry report has found.

The "Wang Hong" industry is booming in China /VCG Photo

According to the report published in Shanghai on Friday by iResearch Consulting Group, the number of internet celebrities with more than 100,000 followers had swelled year on year in May by 57.3%. It said the total number of their followers had surged 20.6% in the same time frame to 465 million. More than 61% of these devotees are male.

Wang Hong industry turning online content into cash

Wang Hong mainly consist of two types of people – the original content producers like Papi Jiang and Office Xiao Ye with their unique style and fun material. Zhang Dayi and Qiangkou Xiaolajiao belong to the second category, selling clothes and cosmetics on Taobao, China's leading online shopping site.

An Andy Warhol exhibition curated by internet celeb Wanwan Lei attracted a lot of girls to come and take pictures. /VCG Photo

Wanwan Lei, curator of Beijing’s M Woods Art Gallery, is one of the new generation of internet celebrities. With 1.52 million followers on Sina Weibo, she has brought Wang Hong culture into a new era through her aspirational tastes and quirky approach to dressing.

Through posting words, pictures, audio, video clips and live steaming associated with commercial brands, online celebrities are turning their fame and influence into cold, hard cash.

Most Wang Hong leveraged their cyber-fame with an e-commerce fashion business, which is becoming a way for Chinese young ladies to earn success.

The relationship between  e-commerce and the making of Wang Hong /VCG Photo

Already worth tens of billions and due to double

The phenomenon provides businesses with a powerful new, highly visual, promotional alternative, and is eating into the business of Chinese Internet goliath Baidu, which dominates online advertising. 

Internet consultancy Analysys International estimated China's Wang Hong industry was worth 53 billion yuan (7.7 billion US dollars) last year and would double in value by 2018.

(With inputs from China Daily and AFP)