Lady Penguin or Wang Shenghan appears to be the only wine-specialized online influencer that stood out from other KOLs and grabbed Chinese consumers’ interest in wine.
A graduate of Brown University with a marketing degree, Wang started with Wechat and today her reach expands into Douyin and weibo, where she has over 3 million and 1.3 million followers, respectively.
In 2019 during the Single’s Day, China’s biggest online shopping extravaganza, she reportedly sold RMB 20 million (US$2.8 million) worth of wines, making her Taobao shop one of the 10 top-selling online shops in the drinks and beverage category.
Her company’s revenue in 2017 is reported to be RMB 18 million, and its revenue in 2019 was projected to be RMB 160 million (US$22.5 million), according to her.
She has since turned her brand into a multi platform for retail, social media, marketing and lifestyle. Most of her video contents are light-hearted from matching lipstick colors to red wines to drinking sparkling wines in bubble bath.
Her sometimes salacious on-camera style certainly raised some eyebrows, but one well-known wine personality in China once joked Lady Penguin is doing more contributions to China’s wine market than all the Master of Wines combined.
One Chinese language report by Sohu in 2017 lauded her for inspiring the biggest number of Chinese to fall in love with wine (启蒙了最多的中国人爱上葡萄酒).
The influence of KOLs are significant, however, some companies cautioned the authenticity of sales numbers.
One anonymous former employee of a well-known beauty brand expressed her frustration at working with an internet celebrity, saying that 50% of their bought products were returned after a livestreaming sale.
This was attributed to many of the KOL’s viewers and consumers being “shui jun” (paid viewers), according to a South China Morning Post report.
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