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Interpretation of the idol economy

   Idols, as carriers of personal "ideals", provide powerful role models and spiritual power in various forms. Idols of different eras use their works, words and deeds to impress young people belonging to their era, and leave a unique cultural mark in the development of social history.

  What really belongs to the Z era is the "idol economy". The idols of the Z era are not only the creators of "spiritual power" in social culture, they are also deeply involved in the economic and industrial ecological chain and the value creation process, and they have produced "economic power" that cannot be underestimated. It is estimated that in 2020, the total scale of China's idol industry has reached 130 billion yuan, while the market size of the film and television variety industry, which is inseparable from the idol industry, will exceed 330 billion yuan.

  In addition to the most direct fan and entertainment economy, the idol economy is also reflected in the value creation of idols in a wider range: in 2020, the sales scale of China's luxury goods industry exceeds 340 billion yuan, and celebrity endorsements are the marketing of these luxury goods. An important link in the The estimated output value of the live e-commerce market in which many celebrities and Internet celebrities "idols" participate in 2021 is as high as 1.2 trillion yuan. In the fast-moving consumer industry with a market size of more than 10 trillion yuan, almost all brands occupying the top of the market also have celebrity idols endorsing them.

  From film and television remuneration to commercial endorsements, from fans "surroundings" to live broadcasts, the economic power of idols is penetrating into all aspects of our social life and playing an increasingly important role in the creation of economic value in various industries. This makes people think, why can idols in the Z era generate such a huge economic value?

Fan economy


  The commercial value of idols is inseparable from the formation of China's cultural and entertainment industry ecological chain.

  From upstream agency companies to discover potential trainees, to streaming media platforms leading talent shows, attracting sponsors and fans to participate in the selection and training of idols, to downstream media promotion, performance meeting, and development and production of "group" idols. Supporting film and television dramas and variety shows, a set of standardized selection and training procedures provide a basic framework for the commercialization of idols. In this ecosystem, brokerage companies, streaming media platforms, film and television companies, sponsors and other important participants can effectively explore how to divide labor and cooperate with each other to jointly create "idols" and cultivate their economic and social values. Obtain corresponding economic benefits.

  The entertainment industry chain has also reshaped the way fans "chasing stars" to a large extent, creating a fan group with commercial value. The media and social platforms on the cultural and entertainment ecological chain take advantage of their high interactivity to establish a series of organized fan training mechanisms.

  From the check-in to the check-in of the super chat list, the speech control of Zhihu hot search, to the various fan organizations of WeChat forums and various derivative meetings and support activities, a series of institutional processes created by the ecological chain make star chasing no longer It's just a straggler at the spiritual level, and it becomes a highly interactive group behavior.

  Fans are more likely to be guided by public opinion and influence each other in a group, and they are more willing to pay for idols and support idols with economic behavior. It can be said that the fan scale effect achieved by the entertainment ecological chain not only further expands the market capacity of the fan economy, but also directly fulfills the basic commercial value of idols. More importantly, fan groups are also the core of idols' public image and mass foundation. Power becomes the fulcrum for creating economic and social value in a wider range. The fan economy has thus become the core and foundation of the commercial value of "idols".

Idol endorsement


  The deeper driving force for the development of idol economy stems from the digital transformation of the economy.

  The impact of digitization on the idol economy stems from the transformation of consumption patterns in the Internet era. The migration of consumption scenarios from offline to online shopping has brought new challenges to product market competition, which has created new opportunities for idol endorsements to play a greater role in marketing and market competition.

  First, the value of idol endorsements firstly stems from its competition in the online market with information overload, making it easier for consumers to "see" products. Digital online consumption scenes amplify the information overload problem faced by consumers in the decision-making process, and increase the cost of information search and processing in consumer decision-making. At the same time, online shopping lacks the characteristics of experience and supporting services, which intensifies the homogeneity of product information. How to find effective signals and make consumers notice the company's products in a large amount of redundant online information is a particularly prominent challenge in digital competition, which strengthens the value of idol endorsements.

  Through endorsements, the company establishes a close relationship between the product and the image of the idol, and makes the idol's popularity and personal characteristics as the unique information of the product, which can immediately attract consumers' attention and interest in the product. "Idol endorsement" is a "shortcut" for companies to achieve product differentiation in the digital age.

  Second, idol endorsements help companies win consumer "trust" in the Internet market competition, thus playing an important role in the construction of product credit. The "model demonstration" effect produced by idol endorsements can reduce the inability of consumers to actually experience the product and verify the authenticity of the information. The resulting information asymmetry.

  For example, the celebrity’s “airport street shooting” shows the possible “daily effects” of the endorsement products through their own outfits and the use of seemingly random capture and shooting. In the eyes of consumers, idol endorsements make products no longer just pictures of online shopping scenes, but become more three-dimensional and more realistic, which inspires expectations and imagination for products and promotes purchase willingness.

  At a deeper level, this “model demonstration” effect also stems from the idol’s own social credit. Out of goodwill and trust in idols, consumers are more likely to trust the products endorsed by idols in the absence of information. It can be said that the foundation of trust established by idols for endorsement products with their own credit and influence is the core of the commercial value of "idol endorsements". It is this market signal based on personal credit that has formed the "idol economy" in a broader sense.

Strong externalities


  The development of the idol economy in the digital age is inevitable, but it also faces unprecedented challenges.

  The idol’s personal image and the core position of the person in the idol economy make the idol’s own behavior have a strong externality, which also means that while idols create value, they also need to assume corresponding social responsibilities. In the industrialized fan economy, every action of an idol can affect the behavior and even the thinking mode and value orientation of fans, and derive collective emotions from large-scale communication and interaction, and even affect the network and social order.

  At the same time, the signal role of idols is further radiated to a wider range of social morality and value orientation through the increasingly complete cultural and entertainment ecological industry chain. Because of this, gossip news about celebrities such as marriage and childbirth, which have long been on the hot search list, has always attracted widespread public attention and discussion. In the era of idol economy, idols are no longer the concept of individual individuals, but have become economic and cultural symbols that can influence public opinion and values. The idol’s restraint and norms of its own behavior and rational guidance of the emotions and consumption behavior of fans have also surpassed the requirements of self-discipline at the individual level and have become social responsibilities that must be fulfilled.

  At the same time, the process of integrating idols into product value creation by commercial endorsements means that the externalities generated by idols have been closely linked to the development of the enterprise and have become an important part of the competitive strategy. In the process of corporate social responsibility, idols are inevitably required as participants in corporate value creation to jointly assume corresponding social responsibilities.


  When the behavior of idols deviates from the expectations of social ethics, this breach of social responsibility will inevitably cause the company to quickly cut off from the idols and separate them from the value creation process. This is why the recent idol scandals have been accompanied by the termination of a large number of corporate endorsements. When idols cannot follow social norms and fulfill their social responsibilities, their credit no longer exists, and their commercial value also disappears.

  For companies, there are risks in using the commercial value of idols to achieve differentiation strategies. The industrial model of the entertainment industry determines that idols are frequently updated. Therefore, the commercial value of idols has a strong time limit. Therefore, while using the idol economy to support value creation, companies should start with improving the internal quality and differentiation of their products, increase investment in innovation, and improve operational efficiency.

New IP, new opportunity


  As a new business form, the development of idol economy is facing challenges, but it also brings unprecedented opportunities.

  First, create high-quality idols and use the positive externalities of idols to guide the positive energy of fans.

  The externality of idol behavior is a double-edged sword. It is not only a challenge facing the idol economy, but also an important mechanism for it to give full play to its positive role. Drive the youth power behind idol culture and idol economy. Through the creation and management of high-quality idols, the words and deeds of idols are used as the carrier to guide, which can effectively lead the young fans to pursue more meaningful life goals and spread positive energy. .

  Second, expand the upstream of the cultural and entertainment ecological industry chain and use the idol economy to feed back the cultural industry.

  The industry attribute of entertainment means that idols cannot rely solely on "appearance" and "personal design", they must have solid masterpieces to prove their strength, so as to truly establish social influence and credibility, and support commercial value.

  The demand for high-quality works of idol development provides opportunities for the expansion of the upstream of the cultural and entertainment industry chain, especially cultural creation. Take the film and television drama industry where "popular" idols are frequently produced as an example, the screenwriting and literary creation industries that are at the forefront of film and television drama production are still exploring systematic and effective creation and screening models. The current rapidly developing network literature platform may be one of the breakthroughs to further explore the value creation mechanism of the upstream cultural creation industry of film and television dramas. Its existing rich author resources attract and accumulate a large number of readers and users, so it can meet both demand and supply. Screen literary works with market potential.

  The increasing frequency of film and television contract transactions on the literary platform, and the incubation of explosive film and television scripts such as the recent "You Are My Glory" on this basis, also prove the effectiveness of the literary platform as a market screening mechanism. In this process, the literary platform has the opportunity to more effectively structure the incentives and intellectual property protection mechanisms for creators, and explore the commercial potential of the work itself while linking the value with the downstream cultural and entertainment production ecological chain.

  The idol economy also provides a systematic development opportunity for the most upstream art education industry. In higher education and vocational education, the cultivation of artistic creative talents is the foundation to ensure the supply of high-quality talents on the literary platform and the downstream cultural and entertainment ecological chain.

  Third, from idol economy to internet celebrity economy, reshaping the industrial structure of the digital age.

  The current rapid development of Internet celebrity and Internet celebrity economy is the exploration and evolution of the extension of the idol economy to the product direction of small and medium-sized enterprises. Similar to the starting point of idol endorsements, the emergence of Internet celebrity endorsements is also due to the fact that small and medium-sized enterprises in the fierce digital market hope that their products will be "seen" and "trusted."

  The cost of online celebrity endorsement is relatively low, and the fan traffic generated by it can be directly converted into purchasing power, which is undoubtedly more attractive and maneuverable for small and medium-sized enterprises. Unlike idols, the credibility of Internet celebrities mainly stems from their expertise and expertise in the vertical field. Therefore, the success and commercialization paths of Internet celebrities are also more diversified and innovative.

  The first-generation Internet celebrity Sydney's screening and interpretation of clothing on social networks showed consumers more complete clothing information, which was transformed into Taobao store traffic; Li Ziqi used video to artfully and detailedly interpret traditional cooking techniques Skills, etc., show the natural life that modern people yearn for. Internet celebrities cut into highly competitive sub-fields, stand out by virtue of professional knowledge or strength skills, attract fans from point to surface to establish credibility and traffic, and have a more solid foundation of strength.

  To a certain extent, the development of the Internet celebrity economy has surpassed the idol economy in the traditional sense, and has more deeply participated in and changed the market competition and product production mode under the digital economy. For example, Li Jiaqi, the leading internet celebrity in the field of live broadcasting, is more deeply involved in product design and even the manufacturing process with the expertise accumulated in the past of cosmetics sales, the market information accumulated through live broadcast interactions throughout the year, and the understanding of consumers.

  Manufacturers and suppliers are increasingly relying on the judgment and professional information of Internet celebrities to find resources to manufacture products that meet market needs and obtain sales channels. In this evolution, the role of Internet celebrities has surpassed the simple endorsements under the idol economy, and has even become a link and platform for coordinating product production, playing a more critical role in the central link of industrial organization.

  In this trend, Internet celebrity "idols" have further surpassed the concept of individual individuals, using their own reputation, strength and image to create "personal IP" that is different from the concept of "IP" in traditional works. This new IP economy with more "people-oriented" characteristics and a brand-new industrial organization model are also giving idols and Internet celebrities more economic significance and social responsibilities.


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