Top 10 Virtual Influencers – Understanding the latest trend and 10 great examples

With more than one billion people using Instagram across the globe, it’s harder than ever to stand out from the crowd and convince with new ideas. To overcome some of the challenges inherent in this attention economy, some creative marketers decided to circumvent the typical approach to influencers and instead create the perfect accounts themselves, so-called virtual influencers. 

Overall, as the digital evolution continues to affect how brands position and market themselves, tangible products are no longer necessary. For example, Scandinavian clothing brand Carlings recently launched a digital collection consisting of trousers, sweats and jackets, with prices ranging from 10 to 30€. Customers could buy “the product” by sending a photo of themselves. Then, the multilabel transformed the purchased item onto the photo, so the submitted photos then showed the customer wearing the digital clothing item. 

The Carlings limited collection has been sold out within one week and speaks to the appeal and value of digital assets. And just as real products don’t have to physically exist to provide value in people’s lives, influencer accounts do not need to represent digital manifestations of real people to have a close relationship with their audiences, especially in the luxury fashion and beauty verticals.

With InfluencerDB’s Influencer Marketing Cloud, we identified the most famous virtual influencers and have summarized everything you need to know about these accounts below.

1 Lilmiquela (1.6m)

With a follower base of 1.6 million, Lil Miquela is the biggest of these virtual influencers on Instagram. The half-Spanish, half-Brazilian girl advertises herself as a 19-year-old resident of Los Angeles. A musician, she has released several singles and has more than 45,000 YouTube subscribers. Considering that she shares convincing content of her posing next to famous musicians like Steve Aoki, it’s possible that many of Lil Miquela’s followers and subscribers aren’t privy to the fact that she’s a virtual influencer. Often in sponsored partnership with major brands like Samsung or Calvin Klein, Lil Miquela regularly shares insights about her daily life as a singer. She stands for political changes and supports Women’s rights and has launched a clothing collection in July in collaboration with @depop.

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Brud, the company that created this avatar, is valued at more than $125 million and has since created additional virtual influencers as featured below.  

2 KFC (1.5m)

For its last campaign, popular fast food brand KFC created an avatar of its famous founder, Colonel Sanders.  While the real Colonel Sanders passed away decades ago, the brand team at KFC brought his spirit to life as a virtual influencer representing the founder in his younger years wearing a white suit and the recognizable mustache. 

This campaign showcases the story of a young entrepreneur, posing next to celebrities like the virtual model Imma. We get to know the businessman who travels in a private jet and has a super modern home. See yourself:

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3 Yoox  (367k)

The luxury online retailer Yoox just added a member to its family, called Daisy. She supports the customer with modeling outfits, navigate the website and assists visitors to find the right outfit according to their needs. Daisy also takes over the company’s Instagram account posing next to famous influencers like @carodaur. There, she presents the latest styles and it-pieces of the season. Apart from sharing her life on Instagram, Daisy also serves as a model. Customers can drag items to the 3D model to see how the whole look will look like.

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4 Noonoouri (307.7k)

Noonoouri has accumulated 307k followers without even intending to look like a real human. Created by the German graphic designer Jörg Zuber, this character is 19 years old, 1.50 m tall, and purports to live in Paris. Her account touches on couture, destinations, beauty, art, and culture, and she describes herself as curious, luxury, social and active. Like many of the virtual influencers showcased in this list, @noonoouri collaborates with big luxury brands including Saint Laurent, Gucci, Dior, and Miu Miu. While these partnerships manifest on Instagram, Noonoouri’s YouTube channel also shows short clips of her wearing the latest luxury must-haves. The character promotes a vegan lifestyle and often shares her thoughts about sustainability.

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The Influencer Marketing Cloud – Learn more

5 Shudu.gram (185.8k)

Shudu, created by a British photographer, is “the world’s first digital supermodel,” drawing inspiration from Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek, and Iman. In an effort to initially determine the success of running a virtual influencer account, Shudu’s founder first hid the fact that she is not real. Since then, however, fashion brands have reached out and sent free product for digital activations. She has also been featured in Vogue and virtually visited different events. All these insights are shown on her Instagram channel which, as of August 2019, is followed by nearly 200,000 people worldwide.

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6 Bermudaisbae (151.3k)

Bermuda is Lil Miquela’s friend and part of the Brud family. With 150k real followers, this virtual influencer doesn’t have the full influence of Lil Miquela but still shares very popular fashion posts and lifestyle insights. She sometimes dresses up in costumes, including a mermaid, the Statue of Liberty, and famous Harry Potter character Hermoine Granger.

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When asked about her life in a recent interview, Bermuda spoke about healthy nutrition, how Ariana Grande helped during a breakup with her boyfriend Blawko (#7 on this list), and her style icon Grace Kelly. Overall, even though she is a virtual influencer, the story behind her character resonates and is relatable to supporters all over the globe. This is Bermuda’s audience, which proves that we are talking about an international trend.

Virtual Influencers: Bermuda - Audience data

7 Blawko22 (141k)

Like the traditional influencer marketing world, virtual influencers skew predominantly female. Blawko, the virtual ex-boyfriend of Bermuda (#6) also part of the Brud family, would fit straight into InfluencerDB’s list of favourite male influencers. An active lifestyle influencer and YouTuber, @blawko22 collaborates with luxury brands like Burberry and Versace. His aesthetic differentiates from other real and virtual influencers, as he stands out from the crowd with face tattoos, slits in his eyebrows, and his mouth and chin are permanently covered. Being from the same universe as other virtual influencers, his audience and content overlaps with and enhances the stories of Lil Miquela and Bermuda.

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8 Imma.gram (80.4k)

The avatar has been created by ModelingCafe, who transforms her 3D animated head onto a real-life body. Imma is interested in Japanese culture and film and stands out of the crowd with her pink hair color. That’s why many brands like Puma, Valentino, and Dior Makeup like to collaborate with her. 

Imma is very active on Twitter having more than 5k followers.

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9 Liam Nikuro (12,8k)

A musician, 21-year-old Liam Nikuro was Japan’s first male virtual influencer account., As of Summer 2019, more than 10,000 people are following Liam’s journey as he tries to break into the music industry and work with Grammy-winning music producers. Beyond music, he makes his followers aware of climate change and shares political opinions.

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While his following qualifies him as a nano-influencer, the 9.7% follower growth shown below indicates that his influence will continue to swell. As nearly 80% of his followers are Japanese, this virtual influencer has a strongly-defined audience that perfectly mirrors the following of a similar non-virtual influencer. Marketers looking for alternatives to influencers in the Japanese market should consider partnering with virtual influencers like Liam.

Liam Nikuro - Audience Data

10 brenn.gram (2.2k)

Brenn is a virtual Curvy Model with a small but dedicated following. The American-focused account mainly represents body positivity. Although her audience is comparably small, she already cooperates with large mobile brands like Smart.

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Her account steadily grows with a growth rate of 3.4% and Brenn has followers worldwide. The Influencer Marketing Cloud shows her audience demography, which is presented below. Most of her engaged followers appear to come from the US and are female. She is an interesting virtual influencer channel for fashion brands to partner with.

Virtual Influencers - Brenn has followers worldwide

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