Why did virtual idols become the new favorite of brand endorsements?

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  With the popularity of virtual idols on the Internet, many companies have begun to use virtual idols as spokespersons, and there has also been a boom in virtual Internet celebrity bloggers on various online platforms.

The interaction between virtual and reality has brought more business possibilities for brands, but industry insiders believe that the virtual idol industry is still in its infancy, and its effects have yet to be tested by the market.

  Recently, virtual idols have become the new darling of brand marketing.

Many companies use virtual idols as spokespersons to seize the opportunity, and platforms such as Douyin and Xiaohongshu have also seen a boom in virtual Internet celebrity bloggers bringing goods and planting grass.

  In this regard, industry insiders pointed out that driven by technology, the interaction between virtual and reality is more realistic, which also makes the virtual economy grow rapidly and become more and more attractive to brands.

However, the virtual idol industry is still in its infancy, facing problems of difficulty in building and high cost, and whether virtual idols can be accepted by consumers and produce good results still needs market testing.

  Many companies use virtual people as spokespersons

  The reporter learned that virtual idols are produced by technologies such as computer graphics, AI (artificial intelligence), and motion capture.

This digital virtual idol has specific character settings, story backgrounds and personal preferences, just like real human beings.

  Axi is one of the representatives of virtual idols.

In August last year, Axi became popular.

She likes to wear a white T-shirt and looks like a cute girl next door.

She's not perfect, with crooked teeth, acne scars, and even yawning in front of the camera without hesitation.

However, it is precisely such an imperfect virtual idol that has been loved by the vast number of netizens in China, and its popularity has become a real star.

  Shortly after becoming popular, Zhong Xuegao announced Axi as "Zhong Xuegao's Special Invited Tasting Officer", and launched Axi's summer short film and season-limited "Apricot Milk Ice" flavor ice cream.

On April 13 this year, take a moment to also announce Axi as the brand's 2022 virtual spokesperson.

  "We hope that through the virtual idol of Axi, the brand influence will continue to penetrate into the 'Generation Z' crowd." Taking a moment, the person in charge said that Axi, who dresses up simply and casually, is closer to the "beauty next door", and it is more everyday Emotions and life situations can arouse people's sympathy more.

  In addition to taking time and Zhong Xuegao, well-known companies such as Huaxizi, Watsons, L'Oreal have also adopted virtual idols as spokespersons.

  On platforms such as Douyin and Xiaohongshu, there has also been a wave of virtual Internet celebrity bloggers bringing goods and planting grass.

On the eve of "Double 11" last year, the makeup video of the virtual beauty artist "Liu Yexi" attracted millions of fans; and on the Xiaohongshu station, virtual idols of many brands went online one after another, bringing goods and planting grass...

  What are the advantages of virtual idol marketing?

  As more and more companies show strong interest in virtual idols, the virtual idol industry is also developing rapidly.

According to the "2021 China Virtual Idol Industry Development and Netizen Survey and Research Report" released by iiMedia Research, China's virtual idol market will exceed 64.56 billion yuan in 2020 and is expected to reach 333.47 billion yuan in 2023.

  What are the advantages of virtual idol marketing?

Zhao Zhan, a special researcher at the Intellectual Property Research Center of China University of Political Science and Law, believes that for brands, virtual idols can enhance consumers' awareness and trust in brands, and have become a new entry point for brand business development and "pleasant" consumers.

  "'Generation Z' has become the main force in the consumer market, and they are more accepting of virtual idols. Brands create virtual idols' 'persona' symbols or invite popular virtual idols as spokespersons to combine real scenes with virtual things. It can give more image connotation and new value display to the development of brand IP." Zhao Zhan said that in recent years, there have been frequent incidents of overturning of celebrity endorsements, and the risk of virtual idols is low.

  Some industry insiders pointed out that the non-fictional marketing of brands based on virtual idols can greatly expand interaction possibilities and marketing scenarios.

Brand virtual idols integrate into people's lives through real voices, images, characters, etc., visualize and completely present everything about the brand, and become a window for people to recognize the brand.

At the same time, brand virtual idols can open live broadcasts, record variety shows, make movies, and can also serve as customer service and make friends, bringing more business possibilities to the brand, and can play an active role in the accumulation of brand assets and user assets.

  The relevant person in charge of Huaxizi said that the appearance of virtual images transcended the identity of "spokesperson".

For many reasons, reality star spokespersons may not be able to accompany a brand for a long time.

"We hope to create an exclusive image for the brand and accompany the brand for 5, 10, or even 100 years of development, and the virtual image of 'Hua Xizi' can well meet our needs."

  Iteration of technical level and IP creation are the keys

  Zhang Yi, chief analyst of iiMedia Research, said that although virtual idols seem to have a strong appeal, virtual idols are not easy to create and the cost is high.

At the same time, whether virtual idols can be accepted by consumers and produce good results still needs market testing.

  Industry insiders pointed out that at this stage, the virtual idol industry is still in its infancy. The downstream consumer market of my country's virtual idol industry chain is developed, while the upstream technology side is weak. Software-level companies are facing cost pressures, and application-level companies also have difficulties in monetization.

Therefore, the iteration of technical level and the creation of IP will be the key to competition in the virtual idol industry.

  In addition, virtual idols rely on IP influence to "break the circle" and form "popular models" in the market, which will be affected by many factors.

At present, only the virtual idol IP in the "head position" works well.

Perhaps, study what consumers want in order to find the most suitable virtual idol and bring out the best commercial effect.

  "Giving virtual idols a 'personality' that conforms to the brand's tonality can allow virtual idols to subtly convey brand concepts in the interaction and communication with users. But it should be noted that if the brand audience matches the virtual idol's audience. Insufficient, it is likely to greatly reduce its communication value, resulting in poor publicity effect." Zhang Yi said that with the change of trends and the development of the times iterative evolution, leading the aesthetics at different stages, virtual idols are in the image development and development and evolution. Content development needs to have a stronger continuity in order to continue to attract traffic attention.

  Zhao Occupy pointed out that in the creation of virtual idols, the brand can highlight the exclusivity, and customize the matching virtual "personality" according to the needs of the brand. Regardless of the image shape and the selling point of the "personality", it must be able to highlight the characteristics.

If you can't find the most popular IP, it is very likely that the expected effect will not be achieved.

At the same time, we must continue to improve the sense of technology and interaction of virtual idols to attract the attention of young people.

Yang Zhaokui

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