Influencers hold a significant role in the decision-making process of Chinese consumers, with nearly half of the Chinese respondents recalling that their purchase decisions have been influenced three to five times by this marketing strategy. Furthermore, around two-thirds of surveyed advertisers have identified KOL promotion as the primary focus of their company's social marketing strategy for 2023. Consequently, in order to thrive in China, brands must allocate sufficient attention to KOL marketing by carefully selecting suitable influencers, engaging on appropriate platforms, and implementing effective collaboration methods.
In this article, we will provide three tips for brands when employing KOL Marketing and briefly introduce several KOLs in the food and beverage industry.
1. Make a combination of “KOL+KOC” in marketing
The influencer landscape comprises various categories based on the size of their following and their level of influence. This distribution can be visualised as a pyramid, with famous celebrity figures occupying the top tier, followed by Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and Key Opinion Customers (KOCs). According to Statistas, mega KOLs represented a mere 0.3 per cent of all social media influencers in China, while tier-5 KOLs, or KOCs, constituted nearly four-fifths.
To be specific, KOLs typically include celebrities, industry experts, and social media influencers who boast a substantial following and maintain a strong online presence. On the other hand, KOCs are more like general consumers who can exert a significant influence over their peers' purchasing decisions. While KOLs have a larger following, KOCs possess a more niche audience and tend to engage more actively. Additionally, content style differentiates KOCs from KOLs. KOLs tend to produce polished and professional content, while KOCs often create authentic and relatable content by leveraging personal experiences and opinions to endorse products.
In marketing strategies, an increasing number of brands opt for the combination of "KOL+KOC." From the KOL side, a single KOL can wield the same impact as ten or even a hundred KOCs, leading to its higher cost, but may lack direct connection with consumers. Meanwhile, KOCs excel at generating word-of-mouth communication and brand recommendations. Consequently, both KOLs and KOCs play indispensable roles. To maximise the effectiveness of brand marketing, it is crucial to choose influencers who are professional in your brand niche market and seamlessly integrate the strengths of both KOLs and KOCs.
2. Choose appropriate platforms
Influencers nowadays are increasingly establishing closer connections with their customers and followers by actively participating across various social media platforms. To conduct effective KOL marketing, it is important to choose the appropriate platforms where your target audience is most likely to appear:
Weibo stands out as the quintessential app for KOL marketing. It boasts its own network of verified influencers, and every Chinese influencer has a Weibo account with a dedicated audience. Weibo users exhibit a keen interest in showbiz, news, society, and fashion, resulting in a high engagement rate. While the overall cost of KOL publications on Weibo tends to be higher, it serves as an excellent medium for brands with ample resources seeking rapid and extensive exposure.
WeChat users devote considerable time to consuming content and can accept subtly presented promotional campaigns that deliver value. WeChat influencers employ words/texts to forge deep emotional connections with their followers, and they often possess highly specialised knowledge and are regarded as experts in their respective fields.
Douyin, with over 715 million active users, offers a highly effective platform for KOL marketing. Its extensive reach and user engagement make KOL marketing exceptionally impactful. Its visually appealing short-video format allows users to have a quick and captivating glimpse of the products or services being promoted by KOLs.
Xiaohongshu lies on user-generated content and peer-to-peer reviews, making it an ideal platform for KOC marketing. Top KOLs are also active on this platform, attracting huge resources to help brands get quick exposure.
3. Decide between various ways to cooperate with influencers
Effective collaboration and endorsement by influencers can result in optimised traffic utilisation, enhanced customer loyalty, and increased brand awareness. There are diverse approaches to partnering with influencers.
TV Commercials (TVCs): KOLs leverage TVCs during shopping festivals, holidays, and brand-specific events to effectively showcase product features and bolster brand image.
Vlogs: Influencers curate vlogs that align with brand positioning and product attributes. These vlogs encompass a range of formats such as unboxing, product evaluation/review videos, product recommendations, and daily vlogs that incorporate product advertising.
Offline Events: Brands extend invitations to influencers, enlisting them as brand ambassadors for offline events. Some influencers also create vlogs recording their involvement throughout the event.
Livestreaming: Influencers feature product recommendations in their live streams, providing clear introductions to product features and potentially lower prices.
Sponsored Posts: KOLs share diverse content types such as photos, blogs, or banner ads on their accounts as sponsored posts.
At the end of this article, here are some influencers famous and professionals in the food & beverage industry:
Liu Genghong, a renowned musician, has gained significant recognition through his daily fitness live streaming. He and his team also showcases training regimens and promotes various health and wellness products in his live streaming.
Li Jiaqi, referred to as the 'King of Lipstick,' is one of the most prominent Chinese KOLs, boasting an impressive following of 74.65 million on Taobao. He conducts live-streaming sessions covering a wide range of product categories. During the recent shopping festival, 618, he achieved a remarkable GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) of 5 billion.
Zhang Xixi, is a vlogger specialising in the food category, primarily through restaurant visits. With a substantial following of 10 million on Douyin, she strategically integrates brand promotions by introducing products within her food-focused videos or promoting them during her weekly live-streaming sessions.
KOL marketing is important in China since Chinese customers rely on their advice heavily. However, it can be tricky for foreign brands to choose suitable influencers and platforms in this competitive market, feel free to speak to our team today to find out how we can help your brand employ KOL marketing in the Chinese market.