China’s digitally savvy younger generation is becoming increasingly important for brands. To reach these consumers, many brands have been turning to celebrities from the “post-95” generation (meaning those born after 1995) or launching promotions on platforms popular with a younger crowd like Tencent’s QQ.  

In their quest to earn exposure on China’s social media platforms, beauty brands with large marketing budgets commonly pay a range of top celebrities to post about them to their legions of fans. However, follower counts in the millions (or even tens of millions) don’t guarantee automatic success.

L2’s recent report on China’s beauty influencers looked at a variety of Weibo celebrity posts about brands, gauging the effect that these posts had on engagement levels. The study found that only 30% of collaborations in which celebrities posted about brands earned more engagement than the brand’s own posts.

Younger stars led the way. While premium beauty brands Giorgio Armani Beauty and La Mer have similar Weibo follower counts and engagement rates, Giorgio Armani Beauty picked celebrities who appealed to a younger fan base, amplifying engagement. Four out of the eight celebrities the brand hired to post about it achieved above-average amplification, including 19-year-old singer Song Zu’er.

Meanwhile, La Mer targeted its core demographic through partnerships with established celebrities like 39-year-old Li Chen and 41-year-old Tan Yuanyuan. As a result, the brand didn’t receive above-average amplification from any of the seven celebrities it hired.

This suggests that investing in celebrity influencers isn’t always worth it. However, brands can still engage young consumers by posting a celebrity video on their own accounts, without the extra cost of a celebrity post.

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