Who are KOLs?
KOL or Key Opinion Leaders are peoples with a strong influential power on a group of consumers. Chinese KOLs are particularly powerful. These influencers are considered experts in a particular area and field by their followers. Some will specialize in beauty products while others will specialize in the fashion industry.
This phenomenon has merged since China’s digitalization over the years, with the development of hundreds of live streaming video platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou. Users are able to live-stream their daily lives and build up large communities that can become highly monetizable.
This has created a booming online marketing industry, with more than 70% of Chinese Generation Z consumers buying products directly via social media. As a result, the KOL economy in the country has grown to an estimated US$8.6 billion.
How brands can collaborate with them?
Choosing the correct KOL for brands can be a difficult task.
In such a large industry it’s important to find the appropriate KOLs that will be able to promote effectively the brand and products. Before getting into pratice, you’ll need to think about your China KOL marketing strategy.
The best Chinese KOL Agencies and Platforms where choose KOLs:
- Antipodal Talent
- Toutiao KOL
Some tips for brands about how to pick the best KOL:
KOLs need to be platform-specific
On the supply side of the livestreaming industry, platforms are competing to recruit hundreds of celebrities and executives to draw in viewers and sell products. When confronted with the many platforms in China, choosing one of them is a complicated process that could make or break sales. For example, users of the lifestyle app RED (小红书) are 80% female, under the age of 35, and from tier-1 or tier-2 cities in China. Therefore, it’s a perfect platform for beauty and cosmetic brands to use KOLs to help increase brand awareness.
Offline fame may not necessarily translate into sales
While we are currently seeing a prosperous wave of livestreaming e-commerce, the medium is still in its early stages, and return on investment has been difficult to calculate. Offline fame may not necessarily translate into sales, and for some, livestreaming has not lived up to expectations.
Virtual idols are not for everyone
In recent years, virtual idols have been a hit with China’s Gen-Z audiences and have displayed strong commercial potential. One of the most significant examples is the anime-inspired virtual star Luo Tianyi (洛天依) and Li Jiaqi (李佳琦), for the beauty brand L’Occitane. They both went on to headline Taobao’s online ACG (Anime, Comic, and Games) festival in May, an event that drew nearly 3 million viewers. Virtual presenters cannot relate emotionally to audiences like humans do, especially when they can’t try on products. Moreover, products must be carefully matched to the virtual idol’s fanbase. Male idols, on the other hand, are used to target female consumers and are more suited to beauty and fashion, such as the anime characters from the Chinese dating simulation game Mr. Love: Queen’s Choice (恋与制作人).
How much should I spend on KOL marketing?
According to the type of KOL you want to collaborate with, the price will depend on various factors such as the popularity of the KOL, its number of followers, your sector of activity, the number of products the KOL will promote, the time spent on it, the sales, etc.
Having a good idea of the budget you’ll need is essential to knowing what kind of KOL you can afford to hire.
In terms of budget, working with popular and famous KOLs requires spending between $19,000 and $610,000, and a single post with an average KOL can reach $3,600. Of course, for the most popular KOLs, it can reach millions of dollars per post and video.
With China being one of the most promising markets for foreign companies, it is important to take into account that almost everyone in China is using social media on a daily basis. In this digitalized country, it is also important to develop its brand awareness and e-reputation of platforms such as Weibo, WeChat, Douyin, Xiaohongshu, etc. By using the services of KOLs, you will not only be able to conquer a wide audience, but you will also be able to get help to promote your brand and products.
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