As for Audrey Hepburn, still influencing Chinese consumers 20 years after her death: "She has a massive iconic appeal for elegance and sophistication," Mr. Paull said. "She's well associated with brands like Tiffany that have been quite aggressive in China. She just has a very unique positioning."
R3's results were based on interviews with more than 30,000 Chinese consumers. It used three factors to measure a celebrity's engagement: preference (unpromoted mentions as a "favorite" star), engagement (the depth of commitment that consumers mention) and values (strength of association with authentic, genuine, trustworthy and others).
If you're looking to use a celebrity endorser for your product in China, here's R3's advice:
- Choose stars that are relevant in China, not because they're popular in other markets. They might not yet be on Chinese consumers' radar.
- Choose an engaging celebrity. Endorsements by ones who are simply well-known may not necessarily spur consumers to make purchases.
- Don't forget local celebrities. Brands like L'Oreal have struck a careful mix of local and global ambassdors. Andy Lau and Li Bingbing might not be household names in the West, but they are superstars in China.
- While Western celebrities have a powerful draw, don't underestimate stars from other Asian countries. Korean celebs in particular have passionate fan followings in China, thanks to Korean soap operas and pop music. Actors Lee Min-ho and Hyun Bin and actress Kim Hee-sun all rank in the top 10.