What are virtual influencers? These are virtual models created with graphic software, though fictitious but have a rich life no different from real KOLs.
Virtual influencer virtual models change the fashion industry
With the trend of technology and fashion merging through the virtual universe (metaverse), there is also more and more demand for virtual influencers. They are not just a 3D dummy but have a “life” that inspires and has a wide influence on the online community.
For the West, the first famous virtual influencer was Lil Miquela, born in 2016. However, Asia has been ahead of this trend by a decade. The first global hit virtual influencer was Hatsune Miku, which appeared in Japan in 2007.
Hatsune Miku is the vocalist of the Vocaloid music writing software. This software is intended to help composing enthusiasts, from amateurs to professional musicians, create their own songs, and use the virtual female singer’s voice to set music.
However, from music writing and playing software, Hatsune Miku has become a true virtual influencer, with sold-out concerts and selling merchandise. Even a Japanese man “married” Hatsune Miku in 2018. “When we were together, she made me smile. To me, she’s a real person,” Akihiko Kondo said in an interview with the NYT.
After the success of Hatsune Miku, a series of other vocaloids were born such as twins Kagamine Rin and Len (Japan) in 2007, SeeU (Korea) in 2011, and Lac Thien Y (China) in 2012… In the negative realm of music, virtual influencers are extremely responsive. In fashion, the trend of virtual influencers became popular in 2017 and onwards.
The first virtual fashion influencer is Lil Miquela, created by the Brud media company based in Los Angeles (USA). “Born” in 2016, this girl has so far had 3 million followers on Instagram. Lil Miquela has appeared in several fashion magazines and has been featured in luxury brand campaigns such as Prada, Dior, and Calvin Klein. She also released a single titled Not Mine in 2017 and debuted her first music video – Hard Feelings.
Currently, Lil Miquela is not the only Virtual influencer. A series of virtual characters have appeared around the world such as Rozy, Guggimon, Knox Frost, Noonoouri, Imma, and Shudu Gram… In Vietnam, EM Oi was born in 2020. It is estimated that so far there are more than 200 virtual influencers. familiar around the world.
An influencer can influence the lives of those who follow them. The same goes for virtual influencers. However, the difference is that virtual influencers are created to reflect the ideals of the people they were born in. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that these virtual KOLs represent the standard beauty of their country.
Take for example Rozy, a virtual influencer in Korea. She is designed according to Asian beauty standards. It was a petite figure, with big eyes, a small face, long black hair, and white skin.
Meanwhile, Lil Miquela has the standard appearance of a Southern California girl, with tanned skin with freckles due to frequent bathing, and sharp facial features with a bit of Latin.
Noonoouri was born in Germany, where the vegan culture is strong. And Noonoouri also spread the message of being vegetarian and advocating for sustainable fashion. So one thing she never wears or advertises is a fur coat.
Virtual supermodel Shudu Gram was born with the desire to honor the beauty of women of color. Therefore, she has glossy black skin and is styled like many African-American women.
Covid is a lever that helps fashion businesses accelerate their digital transformation. Technology is more essential than ever. The rise of Virtual influencers is a must-have. Virtual influencers are certainly an interesting, if not a bit odd, development in the advertising and marketing industry. Using Virtual Influencers brings benefits to brands and fans.
The main advantage for brands is that they have complete control over the Virtual influencer over everything they do and say. For example, brands have the right to adjust the Virtual influencer’s personality to match the image and message conveyed. Virtual influencers will not behave badly in daily life, cause scandals, or damage brands.
Plus, there’s a lot of creative freedom for brands to own a Virtual influencer. They can design their own Virtual influencer. In this way, brands are exploiting new mediums to hold consumers’ attention longer.
For virtual characters like Lil Miquela or Hatsune Miku, consumers even become fans. At this point, virtual models become a real idols, helping to drive sales of the products they represent. They are considered as influential as real stars.
Rozy’s Instagram is rife with ads for fashion and skincare products. Baik Seung-yup, CEO of Sidus Studio X which owns Rozy, said, “Many big companies in Korea want to use Rozy as a model. And just ask for Rozy.” As Rozy grew in popularity, the company received more sponsorships from luxury brands such as Chanel and Hermès. Her commercials have now appeared on television and even in physical spaces like billboards and the sides of buses.
Virtual influencers appeal to any industry because they are more than three times more likely to generate engagement rates than real-life influencers. Additionally, Virtual Influencers are an important way for brands to engage with Generation Z. So it’s no surprise that beauty brands are turning to Virtual Influencers as a cosmetic marketing strategy. products, perfumes…
According to a report by HypeAuditor: “ Virtual influencers have three times more engagement with real influencers. More and more people are fascinated by surrealism and digitally enhanced the beauty of these CGIs.”
In general, virtual influencers are predicted to achieve more success in the future than real-life “colleagues”. They can be in many places at the same time. They are not limited by time, health, and behavior exactly as desired by the owner. This is also the reason why Aespa, the Kpop Gen 4 group, debuted with their virtual avatar, as a way to catch up with the trend of virtual KOLs.
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