October 24, 2021


From native P.o.V.

Behind the “Cao County Popularity”: The Rise of Shandong’s “Internet Celebrity Economy”

8 min read

Cao County holds Hanfu etiquette training activities. Image source: Cao County Culture and Tourism Bureau Official Account

Author: Xinjing Think Tank Chief Researcher Ke Rui

Recently, Cao County suddenly became popular online.

“Cao County, Heze, Shandong! 666!”. Because an Internet celebrity blogger chanted his slogan with personality and caused many netizens to imitate it, Cao County suddenly became popular.

According to reports, the total number of videos about “Cao County” on a specific video platform alone exceeded 260 million in a month. Cao County has become a veritable “net celebrity” city.

“I would rather have a bed in Caoxian than a suite in Shanghai!” “There is heaven above and Caoxian below!”

In the ridicule and jokes of netizens, the right side of Cao County is gradually revealed. And this new Internet celebrity phenomenon also has fresh research value.


 Cao County is on fire, but it’s not accidental.

Cao County is on fire, it seems a bit strange, but it is not.

Cao County was initially a county under the jurisdiction of Heze City, Shandong Province. It is located at the junction of the Shandong and Henan provinces. It is the most populous county in Shandong Province.

According to the county’s official website, Cao County has been rated as the “Hometown of Willow Weaving in China,” “Hometown of Asparagus in China,” “Hometown of Poplar Processing in China,” “Hometown of Paulownia Processing in China,” and “Million Dans of High-quality Cotton Production in China” Base” and so on.

Of course, today, the county is most famous for its Hanfu, wood product economy, and e-commerce industry.

Take Hanfu as an example. This is a traditional costume. However, in recent years, with the rise of the Hanfu trend, many internet celebrities have appeared in Hanfu, which has further promoted the popularity of this clothing. The people of Cao County were aware of the direction and concentrated firepower to produce Hanfu, making Cao County the “Hanfu Production Center” in Shandong.

According to statistics, there are about 2,000 Hanfu production enterprises and related upstream and downstream enterprises in Cao County, of which more than 600 are original Hanfu processing enterprises. In 2019, the county’s Hanfu e-commerce sales reached nearly 1.9 billion yuan.

wood products are also Cao County’s “hands-on.”

According to reports, Cao County has more than 6,000 wood art companies and 300,000 employees in the wood processing industry. It has become one of the country’s three hundred billion-level wood product industrial clusters, and most of its products are sold through e-commerce.

According to media reports, a small village in Dinglou, Cao County, now “sales of the village was close to 500 million yuan in 2019. Every family has an online shop, and there are at most more than 30 people in a family.”

In 2020, there will be 273 cross-border e-commerce companies in Caoxian County, a year-on-year increase of 65.5%, and the export volume will exceed 3 billion yuan. According to 2019 data, Cao County has 124 e-commerce villages of a particular brand, the second-largest-commerce village cluster in the country after Yiwu, Zhejiang.

Behind the widespread network of Cao County, there are many “hardcorements: it was rated as “a typical county for the modernization of agricultural product circulation, active development of rural e-commerce and production and marketing docking” by the State Council, and one of the “top ten e-commerce development model counties in the country”; Awarded by the Ministry of Commerce as a “National Comprehensive Demonstration County of E-commerce Entering Rural Areas.”


  Shandong has achieved good results in building a “net celebrity economy.”

Cao County is popular on the Internet, and there is the logic of industrial development behind it.

This is not an isolated case. In fact, in recent years, the phenomenon of “Internet celebrities” has appeared in many places in Shandong, from “brother Dayi” to “Brother Ramen,” and then to “Internet celebrity farmers” and “Internet celebrity academies” in many places.

According to a user portrait analysis report of a short video platform in 2020, the number of users in Guangdong, Henan, and Shandong ranks in the top three.

However, it is easy for people to see the popularity of Cao County and the glamour of Internet celebrity anchors, but they may not be able to see it. Behind this phenomenon, they have real hard work and dedication offline.

Not long ago, Shandong “Ramen Brother” suddenly became popular on the Internet. For a time, people worldwide flocked to Liangqiu Daji, Fei County, Linyi, Shandong Province. Many people drove here specifically to eat a bowl of “Ramen Brother” three-yuan and one bowl of handmade ramen.

At the request of the onlookers, “Brother Ramen” made ramen at the door of his house. Beijing News reporter Xiao Weiwei

“Ramen Brother” was originally an ordinary businessman. Still, he insisted on “the same price for 15 years, three yuan and a large bowl of hand-made ramen”, but it has the excellent quality of honest management. After this kind of quality has been widely spread in the Internet age, it has won the appreciation of netizens. As a result, “Ramen Brother” has become a “net celebrity” himself, and his years of hard work have been super rewarded.

According to reports, before “Brother Ramen” became an internet celebrity, several waves of local filming bloggers and internet celebrity teams went to collect and film. The popularity of “Brother Ramen” is accidental and inevitable.

This is because many places such as Linyi in Shandong have vigorously built industrial parks for the Internet celebrity economy and established e-commerce technology innovation incubators, which have helped to play a role in the agglomeration effect of industries. This allows the old industrial park to “turn over” and radiate new vitality. At the same time, it also cultivates a large number of live broadcast and short video teams and related practitioners.

On the whole, in recent years, the government departments of Heze, Linyi, Rizhao, and other places in Shandong are actively building platforms to create a “net celebrity economy.”

For example, Juancheng County is a largely agricultural county under the jurisdiction of Heze. It is rich in agricultural and sideline products. Specialties such as mung beanballs and Juancheng steamed bread are popular in the market. Over the years, most of the county’s agricultural product sales have been “offline” sales, with a single sales channel and poor-risk resistance. Due to the decline of wholesalers and retailers, the county encountered difficulties in producing some agricultural products during the epidemic.

In March 2020, the county signed a contract with a Beijing cultural media company to build an online celebrity academy and an organic orchard live broadcast base. Through regular short video live broadcast training, a group of “Internet celebrity farmers” will be cultivated for Juancheng, and the sales channels of agricultural products will be broadened.

In recent years, the county’s e-commerce has developed rapidly. The county has more than 1,500 e-commerce companies, more than 18,000 personal online stores, and cultivated 18 Taobao villages and 3 Taobao towns. E-commerce has become a new engine driving local economic growth.

In addition, Juancheng has also been rated as a national-level professional demonstration base for foreign trade transformation and upgrading, a provincial-level cross-border e-commerce industry cluster, and a smart foreign trade pioneer county.

Night view of Jinan, Shandong. Photo source: Unsplash

The rising Internet celebrity economy is bringing significant promotion to rural revitalization and economic development in related areas.


  There is still room for imagination in the Internet celebrity economy

In recent years, the Internet celebrity economy has developed rapidly and has become a new driving force for economic development.

Statistics show that in 2015, my country’s Internet celebrity economic revenue exceeded 1 trillion yuan for the first time, with an annual growth rate of 47%. For more than five years, the Internet celebrity economy has maintained a rapid growth trend in many places. According to a report issued by the Network Performance (Live Broadcast) Branch of the China Performance Industry Association, the market size of my country’s network performance (live broadcast) industry will reach 193.03 billion yuan in 2020.

Internet celebrity counties are on fire, and online celebrity shops are on fire. It seems to benefit from the beauty or eloquence of Internet celebrity bloggers and anchors, but it is far from simple.

The Internet celebrity industry involves all aspects of upstream and downstream. The increasingly large-scale Internet celebrity economy needs to achieve professional division of labor and coordinated development. In addition, the Internet celebrity economy is also inseparable from the agglomeration effect of the industry.


Still taking Cao County as an example, its popularity is because the locals have caught the trend, embraced the Internet and e-commerce on time, stepped on the rhythm of the times, and successfully combined traditional industries with the Internet. At the same time, the locals combined their own traditional industry advantages, such as Realizing the “gathering” of the upstream and downstream industries in the county from fabrics, accessories to processing, production, and sales of apparel processing development of this industry.

At present, many places have seen the sweetness of the Internet celebrity economy, and they have also tried to build the Internet celebrity economy, including creating e-commerce and related industrial parks that use live broadcast as the channel. The Caoxian phenomenon has value worth learning from.

“Internet Celebrity Village” in Linyi, Shandong. Picture source: Beijing News reporter Xiao Weiwei

Cao County is on fire, and it is not possible to rise to the height of the discourse of “Northern Xiangqi.” Still, this phenomenon also reminds the new imagination space of the development of local industries in the Internet era.

In recent years, with the popularization of Internet infrastructure everywhere, information dissemination has tended to be flat, making it possible for ordinary people to obtain high traffic. At the same time, development restrictions confined to traditional geographic locations are being broken. Inland areas and remote mountainous areas in the traditional sense can also become “frontier positions” in the Internet era, realizing counterattacks against developed regions. Traditional industries can be upgraded with the help of the Internet. Iteration.

In addition to Cao County, inland cities such as Xi’an and Changsha in the central and western regions have become “net celebrity cities” in recent years. Their tourism, food, and other related celebrity-related industries have developed impressively, which are typical cases.

The popularity of Cao County can be regarded as a sample of the combination of traditional industries and the Internet to create an Internet celebrity economy successfully. By embracing the Internet while still doing a good job in offline industries, the Internet celebrity economy such as Cao County can go further.

In addition to the popularity of Cao County, it also allows the society to see a new side of the industrial transformation of Shandong as a large economic and populous province.

Editor: Wang Chunrui, Zhang Xiaoyuan Proofreading: Lucy
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Source: Beijing News Network

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