Business

Cosmetics influencer demonstrates clout of Chinese social media

by Kenichi Yoshizawa

Nna/kyodo

Candy Lian, a Chinese social-media influencer who popularizes cosmetics brands, has drawn more than 4 million viewers for her first live online performance from Tokyo’s upscale shopping district of Ginza introducing various products from cosmetics to traditional Japanese tableware.

Her latest event, “Walk into Japan,” was part of a marketing campaign by Matsuya Ginza, a department store run by Matsuya Co., which has benefited from high numbers of Chinese shoppers among the growing number of foreign travelers to Japan.

As Lian walked around the store introducing things such as French cosmetics and tin tableware — some costing up to tens of thousands of yen — viewers in China posted an avalanche of questions and comments while enjoying the shopping experience in virtual reality.

Following this interactive event in December, Matsuya saw a twentyfold jump in the number of new registrations on its online shopping site for Chinese customers compared with normal weekend levels, according to Azoya International, a Hong Kong-based cross border e-commerce solution provider and the organizer of the event.

The event was seen by 400,000 viewers at its peak through a live video platform under Weibo, according to Azoya.

“We recognized how big the influencer’s impact is as the live video was viewed millions of times,” said Yujiro Ono, a Matsuya official for customer relations strategy.

Compared with Chinese in their 40s and 50s, the values of younger Chinese are “becoming very close to those of Japanese and South Koreans,” said 31-year-old Lian — a key opinion leader in China. “It is unbelievable that even elderly people with fashionable attire enjoy shopping and chatting over afternoon tea in Ginza.”

Lian, whose real name is Wang Lan Nuo, boasts nearly 2 million followers through Chinese social media platforms including Weibo and WeChat. In her country, older generations in their 40s and over had devoted themselves to raising children and grandchildren, she said.

But now “people in their 20s and 30s like us enjoy their lives and have interest in new things thanks to the internet, which lets us absorb information similarly to Japanese youngsters,” the Chinese beauty blogger said.

Lian initially ran an online cosmetic shop to sell overseas products to local consumers, posting her user experiences on her site to share with shoppers. Her efforts boosted the number of her followers — most of them in their 20s and 30s — with women accounting for about 80 percent.

Her fans are keen “to know makeup techniques, especially the latest lipsticks,” she said. “That brings the most access to my site.”

Lian can try out cosmetics products from Japanese and South Korean brands before they are officially released as she has partnership contracts with those brands as part of their marketing activities.

“Now younger generations in China value quality of life,” she said. “They pay attention to such matters as the history and culture behind brands. China is no longer such a closed nation as in old times.”