From Pixels to Personalities: Why Virtual Influencers are Taking Over Asia

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Forget your average insurance commercial. Shinhan Life, a South Korean insurer, has broken the mould by featuring Rozy Oh as the star in its commercial, a vibrant dance-filled spectacle. But there’s a twist: Rozy isn’t your typical model but a computer-generated character. In just three weeks, her 30-second debut has reached over 10 million views, sparking a wave of parodies and even a music video.

At Twimbit, we firmly believe in the crucial role brand experience plays in delivering exceptional experiences. Thanks to Rozy, Shinhan Life has created a compelling brand narrative, all while cultivating a dedicated fanbase. And Rozy is just the beginning.  

Across the globe, brands are adopting virtual influencers (VIs) to connect with younger demographics, tell engaging stories, and craft unique customer experiences. With tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Zs leading this trend, Asia is emerging as a powerhouse in the VI market. But what exactly are VIs, and how will they reshape brand-customer interactions?

Beyond Cartoons: A Kaleidoscope of Forms

Using cutting-edge technologies like 3D modelling, animation, and AI, virtual influencers come in various forms, from whimsical cartoons to lifelike creations. Here’s a peek at a few captivating VIs:

  • Ayayi from China, the country’s first hyper-realistic “meta-human”
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  • Imma from Japan, the spunky pink-haired fashionista recognized as one of the “New 100 Talent to Watch” by Japan Economics Entertainment
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  • Kati from Thailand, the 22-year-old fashionista with a delightful sense of humour
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  • Kyra from India, a model, traveller, and dream-chaser
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  • Rae from Singapore is the forever-25 digital artist that embodies the creative spirit of Singapore’s youth scene
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The Allure of the Virtual

What makes virtual influencers so mesmerizing goes beyond their scandal-free, ageless nature. In an era saturated with idealized images, VIs offer a surprising twist: relatability.

Enter Angie from China. Labelled “the girl next door”, her appeal stems from her sweet charm, relatable flaws, and unfiltered display of emotions. With over 900,000 followers on Weibo, Angie is celebrated as “more genuine than many real people.” Crafted deliberately with imperfections, she challenges beauty standards and fosters positive self-perception, resonating deeply with Chinese girls and women.

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Lu, the face of the Brazilian powerhouse Magalu, mirrors this authenticity with style, a powerful opinion, and a commitment to social causes. Conceived initially as a virtual shopping assistant, she’s become a global VI sensation with over 30 million followers. Her real-world collaboration with popular artist Anitta blurs the lines between virtual and real, creating a profound connection with her audience.

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Challenges on the Virtual Horizon

One primary concern is the ethical consideration surrounding virtual influencers. Issues like data privacy, consent, and the use of AI algorithms that shape virtual personalities raise ethical dilemmas. Striking the right balance between creativity, entertainment, and responsible AI usage will be vital in navigating these challenges.

The Virtual Evolution

The rise of virtual influencers in Asia signifies a paradigm shift in how we perceive and interact with digital personalities. The wide range of virtual influencer forms, from hyper-realistic beings to animated characters, reflects a growing appetite for distinct and relatable content.

As we delve deeper into the virtual world, the blend of fantasy and reality will continue to redefine customer experience, offering opportunities and challenges that demand thoughtful consideration. Ultimately, only time will tell whether the virtual influencer phenomenon is a passing trend or a transformative force for the digital landscape in Asia and beyond.