China endeavors to ensure Internet celebrity economy brings consumers better products and experience

By Zou Xiang, People’s Daily

From Internet-famous bread and bookstores to popular towns and coffee shops that won fame online, products and services that have caused an online sensation are springing up everywhere, which also indicates that Internet celebrity economy moves onto the fast lane of development in China.

The business model of this particular kind of economy is not complicated. It’s mainly about gathering fame and popularity on the Internet and social media platforms and translating them into purchasing behavior, thus realizing the value of notability.

The continuous development of Internet celebrity economy in China reflects the vitality and potential of the Chinese economy. Statistics showed that the number of people engaging in online marketing in China has exceeded 10 million while the number of relevant organizations has risen rapidly and the annual output value of the country’s Internet celebrity industry has reached 100 billion yuan ($15.69 billion).

Internet celebrity economy has become a highlight of China’s social and economic development. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Internet celebrity economy featuringlivestreaming marketing and other new business forms has not only brought convenience to consumers, but created a huge number of jobs and incubated new professions, such as livestreaming salesperson and online marketer.

While developing rapidly in China, Internet celebrity economy also faces some troubles. Internet celebrities’ words and deeds have a strong demonstration effect on their followers, and their influence and appeal greatly affect the consumer behavior of Internet users.

A group of young tourists take photos with two elderly Internet influencers, Wang Suqing and Du Yunzhen, who have been famous on the Internet for running characteristic homestay hotels and making handmade coffee in Wulong village, Langzhong city, southwest China’s Sichuan province, March 4, 2021. (Photo by Wu Xiaorong/People’s Daily Online)

However, some livestreamershave infringed on the legitimate rights and interests of consumers by exaggerating the benefits of products, excessively marketing products, selling products of poor quality, and failing to guarantee due after-sales service.

On the other hand, dishonest behavior and malpractices in the livestreaming e-commerce industry, including fakingbusiness data, reviews and viewership data, have undermined consumers’ confidence and trust in shopping via livestreaming platforms and contaminated the ecology and environment of the industry.

Only by paying great attention to and solving these problems can the country continuously enrich and improve the conditions for the healthy growth of Internet celebrity economy.

China has never stopped making efforts to promote the sound and orderly development of Internet celebrity economy. The country has released a lot of policies to regulate the industry. It has cracked down on fraudulent online activities including faking sales data and reviews, stipulated the minimum age of livestreaming marketing practitioners and red lines for livestreaming marketing activities, regulated the activities of Internet celebrities through education and training, put main participants in livestreaming marketing activities, including platforms, suppliers of products and livestreamers, under supervision, and taken effective measures to ensure that entertainers who have engaged in illegal or unethical behaviorare not given any opportunity to publicly appear on screen.

A consumer buys peripheral products of Modern China Tea Shop, an Internet-famous bubble tea chain brand in China, at a shop of the brand in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan province, Jan. 2, 2022. (Photo by Wang Chu/People’s Daily Online)

While helping steer Internet celebrity economy onto a track of development based on the rule of law, relevant policies launched by the country have also reminded every practitioner of the industry that as they gain public attention, they must shoulder their social responsibility and set examples of promoting and spreading positive energy.

As an important feature of the times, Internet celebrity economy enjoys broad prospects. It can realize long-term development and generate greater economic and social benefits only by adhering to mainstream values, improving professionalism, strengthening industry self-discipline, and committing to bringing better products and experience to consumers.

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