Woman Vblog­ger’s suc­cess may be one-of-a-kind

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By BAI PING

Over the last week­end, I binge watched the most fa­mous Chi­nese video blog­ger Jiang Yilei who has re­port­edly turned her short videos into a busi­ness worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of yuan, in just a mat­ter of sev­eral months.

Of course, there has been mar­ket talk about plans to repli­cate her modus operandi and there could be hun­dreds of Papi Jiang, her on­line moniker, soon.

While I watched Jiang talk­ing in rapid-fireMan­darin and Shang­hainese oc­ca­sion­ally pep­pered with English phrases and vul­gar­i­ties, I be­gan to see her busi­ness po­ten­tial that has at­tracted mil­lions in ven­ture cap­i­tal and ad­ver­tis­ing.

But I doubt if the wildly pop­u­lar one-woman show, fol­lowed by close to 12 mil­lion fans on Sina Weibo alone, could be mass pro­duced like a blog­ger cumshop­ping guide, a hot oc­cu­pa­tion cre­ated by the boom­ing Chi­nese in­ter­net celebrity econ­omy.

For a start, Jiang is opin­ion­ated, funny, smart and res­onates with ur­ban young peo­ple. In a self-dep­re­cat­ing man­ner, she pokes fun at ev­ery­day top­ics rang­ing from dat­ing woes to fam­ily re­la­tion­ships to so­cial trends.

If these qual­i­ties are not salient enough, think about Jiang as a skilled and re­silient direc­tor with un­der­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate stud­ies com­pleted at the pres­ti­gious Cen­tral Acad­emy of Drama. While Jiang chose a messy liv­ing room as the set­ting of her videos, she is said to be metic­u­lous about her pro­duc­tion, with lots of time spent on script writ­ing and re­hearsal. In early April, me­dia reg­u­la­tors or­dered her videos to be taken off­line be­cause of her use of “swear­ing and in­sult­ing lan­guage”. She came back days later with her mod­i­fied videos avail­able for view­ing again.

I wish there could be more in­ter­net hosts like Jiang who ac­cu­mu­lated fans by pro­duc­ing orig­i­nal, com­pelling con­tent. But Jiang ap­pears to be the only one of her kind. Many other fa­mous in­ter­net blog­gers have taken the path of a shop­ping guide to mon­e­tize their fans’ love.

Most Chi­nese in­ter­net stars, bet­ter known as wanghong, are mod­els, for­mer beauty pageant win­ners or nice-look­ing rich young women who pro­mote con­sumer prod­ucts like clothes and cos­met­ics to their fans on so­cial me­dia and their blogs.

There is a gen­eral pat­tern for wanghong to cul­ti­vate a fol­low­ing and be­come opin­ion lead­ers of con­sumers. Some start by shar­ing self­ies and post­ing or re-post­ing witty com­ments that ap­peal to like­minded read­ers. Some pub­li­cize their lux­u­ri­ous life­style that oth­ers want to em­u­late. Ad­ver­tis­ers love them as pow­er­ful mar­ket­ing agents to tap niche mar­kets.

The rise of the e-com­merce celebrity mar­ket­ing, to the tune of 58 bil­lion yuan ($8.81 bil­lion) in 2016, has also spawned ad­ver­tis­ing com­pa­nies that spe­cial­ize in the train­ing and pro­mo­tion of wanghong who as­pire for lu­cra­tive ad­ver­tis­ing and sales deals.

As the groom­ing process is stan­dard­ized, some such com­pa­nies boast they can launch a full-fledged wanghong, com­plete with a rea­son­ably sized fan base and mar­ket­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, in three months.

Be­sides her con­tent, the endgame has also set Jiang apart from the crowd. While many wanghong even­tu­ally end up as shop own­ers on a ma­jor e-com­merce site, Jiang has an­nounced that she will launch PapiTube that like YouTube, al­lows users to up­load and share video clips on­line.

In­vestors have al­ready treated Jiang’s low-cost show as an­other tech startup, with pro­jec­tions on its busi­ness model, mar­kets and prof­itabil­ity. But ev­ery­body is most con­cerned about the sus­tain­abil­ity of Jiang’s satir­i­cal and spicy videos, which could be a key com­pet­i­tive strength of her pro­posed video site.

Au­di­ences have con­sid­ered it a self-par­ody when Jiang ends ev­ery video by say­ing “I’mPapi Jiang, a woman who com­bines beauty and tal­ent”. Now they might take it more as bat­tle cry of a de­ter­mined, en­tre­pre­neur­ial young woman who wants to take the wanghong busi­ness to next level.

Con­tact the writer at dr.baip­ing@hot­mail.com

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