How Yuki Zhao Carved Her Niche As A Chinese Luxury Consultant

By Ezra Tennen

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The Creators is an editorial series presented by Glory Professional that focuses on the career paths, strategies, and tactical advice of today’s most compelling social media entrepreneurs. 


Meet Yuki Zhao (otherwise known as @mercuryyuki on social media), an influential luxury specialist with a fresh perspective on lifestyle-focused content creation. Her journey from obtaining her masters degree at Schulich business school, to working in New York’s private equity sector, to becoming an influencer showcases an unconventional career path that has afforded her a unique perspective on her work.


With over 230,000 followers on Instagram alone, Zhao has continued to embrace the spirit of entrepreneurship as a luxury marketing consultant to help brands target Chinese audiences. Unbound by trends, her hustle, point of view, and pursuit for excellence continue to propel her to new heights of success.

What kind of content do you create? 

Yuki Zhao: My content is very lifestyle-focused. I often showcase my outfits, skincare, wine, timepieces, art, and cars. The content I share will always highlight my work and day-to-day life. Ultimately, things that I like and inspire me. 


What’s your unique perspective on your niche?

Yuki Zhao: I love to share things that I am passionate about and experience on a day-to-day basis, which makes my opinion more relatable to people. I don’t like to follow trends, I always prefer to highlight my own take. In most cases, it’s not information you can find in books, or online. Just like wine and watches, you really don’t know how you feel about it until you have the timepiece on your wrist or taste it for yourself. 


How do you define influence? 

Yuki Zhao: Influence is the ability to change a person’s opinion on things. It could be taste, the way they dress, or speak. Sometimes it can be objects that don’t usually hold any social value, but given you’re talking about it or using what you are sharing on social media, these things can become desirable amongst your audience and beyond. 


I truly believe that having influence also comes with having power. Essentially, you’re changing the way people think. You don’t have to be an influencer to influence. For example, Drake and LeBron James started wearing Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra bracelets that were originally worn primarily by female celebrities. Now there is a large number of male rappers and athletes around the world who are wearing these iconic pieces. As a result, the bracelets are selling out, which shows how influence also makes you powerful. When you have influence this often leads to having more control over what people are buying and interested in. 


Do you take issue with being called an ‘influencer?’ If so, why? 

Yuki Zhao: I’m okay with someone calling me an influencer because I honestly love creating content. If not for other people, I’d still do it for myself. It’s funny because when you meet someone who has preconceived notions towards influencers, nine times out of 10, they too want to have influence and lead a certain lifestyle. Being successful in any industry takes hard work, and it’s easy to judge or discredit others for making a living through their influence and online presence.


What was your biggest concern about jumping into full-time content creation?

Yuki Zhao: I was a full-time blogger from 2017 to 2019 when this relatively new “profession” quickly became a highly-coveted industry. For me, the transition from part-time to full-time was pretty smooth. It only took me one year, even though my content wasn’t as polished as it is today. However, because 2017 was such a booming year to be in the industry, it didn’t take me that long to make a name for myself in Canada, the US, Asia, and Europe. 


From a financial perspective, being a full time content creator is good when the market is “hot”. I would say the biggest concern for me is not having the chance to work in other industries I’m also passionate about. Oftentimes, people forget how real business works, and you get caught up in the views, engagement, and so on. When brands are not working on campaigns, you don’t have anything to fall back on. In my case, the businesses I run on the side do not conflict with being an influencer. In fact, it helps me meet and engage with new clients, while having the opportunity to meet business owners who share similar values and hobbies.


Also, it’s hard to stay true to yourself when you’re a full-time content creator when you put your heart and soul into it as a job or career. Constantly thinking about gains and losses becomes part of your day-to-day life. In order to keep up, many full-time content creators eventually lose touch with their unique style and adjust their way of doing things solely to please brands and their audiences. I believe a successful content creator should strive to start trends in the market, versus being the one to follow trends others have already adopted.


What are the skills needed to be successful as a content creator?

Yuki Zhao: I believe one of the most important skills to have is to constantly captivate your audience. Also, consistency truly is the key. I always say, if you know you have talent in specific areas, make sure you repeat this and give your audience what they want while staying true to yourself. 


What is a tactic that you employ to maintain an engaged and loyal audience?

Yuki Zhao: I know it may sound easy, but always continue to do you and not copy others. This way of doing things can really help attract like-minded people who have similar tastes and interests. They do exist, you just need to figure out how to find them.

Photo of Yuki Zhao in front of a black background wearing a blue overcoat with a white pattern on it. She is holding a white handback in front of her and she is wearing black sunglasses.

There is a lot of talk about the algorithm. How do you update yourself on changes to it?

Yuki Zhao: Many creators make great content but it’s also about timing. You have to fully understand what the platform is currently promoting, and what type of content each platform will give you more traffic. It changes all the time, and I always try to ensure I’m in the know about what works and what doesn’t.


What are three underrated tools that you use to create, plan, distribute, or monitor your content that you swear by?

Yuki Zhao: Dazz camera is the perfect app for creating vintage film-style pictures via your phone, while VSCO is amazing for both video and photo editing. Meitu is great for portrait shots captured on your phone.


Do you utilize a content calendar? If so, what is your preferred way of organizing it?

Yuki Zhao: Yes I use an app called The Grid to organize my content and plan my feed, especially for Instagram.


What is something that most people get wrong when it comes to their social media strategy?

Yuki Zhao: They believe more followers will make them more money via advertisement and that’s not always the case. The fact is, the number of followers and the commercial value of your account are not completely equal. A video creator who reviews fragrances and skincare products with 20,000 followers might make more compared to a creator who does hair tutorials with 100,000 followers.


How do you handle online criticism and unkind comments?

Yuki Zhao: Funnily enough, I welcome online criticism and unkind comments to a certain extent. If nobody is criticizing you, it means you do not have eyes on your content, or your social platforms in general. I always believe that people who dislike me are paying way more attention than those who like me, so having haters is part of the game. Criticism reminds me that I need to work harder and always evolve so I feel the need to thank them, too. They’re part of the journey. 


What is your “unpopular opinion” about content creation?

Yuki Zhao: A lot of people don’t like to acknowledge this, but it might be harder than a full-time job. As a content creator, you don’t work nine-to-five. Realistically, you work around the clock without a supervisor, or any help in some cases. This means it requires a lot more discipline to be successful in this industry. You have to be a hustler to win, it’s like having your own business. 


How do you advocate for yourself in partnership negotiations?

Yuki Zhao: Advocating for yourself is very important in this industry. You have to know your worth and be confident while negotiating partnerships. A large part of this is also based on relationships. The negotiating part of the business is more streamlined when the brand values your work, what you do, and the content you create. 

Photo of women wearing all black, holding a black bag, and wearing black sunglasses. She is standing on some pavement and looking off the side.

What is the worst partnership you’ve experienced?

Yuki Zhao: For confidentiality reasons, I won’t mention the name of the individual or brand, but the individual told me, “because we have known each other for a long time, we don’t need a contract to start, don’t worry you will get paid.” Personally, opportunities like these are the worst partnerships and often entail numerous red flags from the start. It’s crazy not to have a contract for any business deal these days. 


What is a lesson that brands and businesses can learn from influencers?

Yuki Zhao: Oftentimes brands don’t really know what customers or the market want, and they don’t realize it. Influencers are merely a representation of a group of people, many of which often share the same lifestyle, taste in fashion, etc. Ultimately, brands should take their time picking the right influencers to work with. For example, some luxury car brands will work with content creators who do not have their license. From my perspective, this will not lead or translate into sales. When there is a true match between the creator and brand, it normally works out very well.


Why should influencers be a part of every CMO’s marketing strategy?

Yuki Zhao: The online world of social media is so impactful, and will continue to be this way for the foreseeable future. CMOs need to understand that integrating content creators into every, or most, marketing strategies is an integral part of selling products and services nowadays.


Dream partnership?

Yuki Zhao: Rolls-Royce and Patek Philippe. To my knowledge, they have never worked with content creators before, so one day I hope to be on their radar for potential opportunities. 


Who is an influencer in your direct community that inspires you?

Yuki Zhao:

@CaroDaur: For her personality 

@Mvb: For the visuals

@margaretzhang: Who said content creators can only be content creators?


What is your biggest hope for the influencer industry in 2023? For yourself?

Yuki Zhao: Continuing to grow my dedicated audience. I feel like at some point, you have to realize that you don’t have to have more fans, you just need a real, dedicated, and loyal fan base to start your new chapter, or to diversify.


What is the best partnership you’ve experienced?

Yuki Zhao: A very well-planned press trip. Oftentimes you get a much deeper understanding of where the products are made, the history behind the brand, and so on. To me, this is an ideal partnership—one that is organic and natural.

Photo of women wearing all black with black sunglasses posing in front of a black Rolls Royce.