Kris Wu saved Burberry, how powerful is celebrity effect in China?

By Kevin Wang(Target China)
14 March 2017

In China, young idol celebrity endorsement achieves huge support in sales of promoting brands. In many overseas luxury brands, Burberry as one of the luxury brand relying most on Chinese consumers achieves its sales performance transformation by the right choice of its endorsement celebrity.

Burberry with its 160 years history since its establishment has always cooperated with British style and British local celebrities. Burberry’s endorsement celebrity formerly includes Eddie Redmayne, David Beckham’s second oldest son Romeo Beckham, Jamie Campbell Bower and Leo Dobson which are all clear British background individuals, however, this phenomenon is changing.


To restore the Chinese market and to ingratiate Chinese Generation Y, Burberry announced Kris Wu(WU Yifan) to be its first non-British endorsement celebrity on its official Weibo website on 14th October 2016. This post on Weibo reached a sharing volume of 260 thousand and under the promotion of Kris Wu’s Weibo follower, Burberry’s official account also reached over 1 million subscribers and all popular topics of Burberry official Weibo are all related to Kris Wu. The analyst Julian Easthope of The Telegraph points that all range of promotional activities by an endorsement of Kris Wu has effectively expanded the influence of Burberry in Chinese social media Weibo and WeChat, stimulated Burberry’s sales growth in China.

Before the endorsement of Kris Wu, Burberry’s sales performance has constantly kept low. In 2016, Burberry’s potential sales revenue fell 4% over the same period last year, profit plunged nearly 40%. Compared to LVMH, Kering, Hermès and other luxury operations, its performance in the luxury good industry has become in the bottom position. Whereas in the second half of the year after chosen Kris Wu to be its branding endorsement celebrity, Burberry’s sales performance achieves a rapid increase. In November 2016, Burberry homeopathically launches Kris Wu Selection series and was seen as the main impact of the quarterly sales performance. Up till 31st December 2016, Burberry’s third-quarter retail income reaches 7.35 hundred million GBP, an increase of 22%.

In current China, celebrities obtain unpredictable influences. Finding a popular Chinese celebrity for endorsement of products becomes the fastest and the most effective path for overseas brandings to enter the Chinese market. Especially in current Chinese consumers, Generation Y has gradually become the main force of consumption. They are keen on China’s local young idol celebrities, like to discuss and gossip about celebrities and willing to spend capital on products with celebrity endorsement. This is not only due to the idea of “wanting to be the same as the celebrity”, but has become a fanatical situation. They will have a different perspective in celebrity-related products. If overseas brands ignore their presence, this will lead to the brands be weaker in collecting attention from the population in the future and so will loose China’s market.

However, celebrity endorsement also obtains a certain rate of risks, especially in China as a country who are well-developed in the internet and social media. Once the brand releases the message of celebrity endorsement, the branding reputation as well as impression toward consumers will vary due to the image of the celebrity and will immediately spread among consumers. Celebrities that cooperates well and obtains tacit understanding with the brand will certainly bring a positive effect to the brand, whereas celebrity that is inappropriate for the brand may bring negative influences. Especially in situations where overseas branding does not have enough understanding and information of the Chinese celebrity, therefore, are difficult in choice toward the celebrity that is suitable for the budget and the branding.The best choice of the oversea enterprise to arrange the celebrity campaign is to find an experienced agency such as Target China. Talk to Target China.