Since 2014, KOL Marketing has been penetrating in all aspect of Chinese people’s life thanks to its applications of 4G nationwide. It does not only play an important role of a bridge between brands and consumers, but also has created a whole new business model.
It turned the market to a new page with its massive collaboration and supply chain management involving with various suppliers and brands.
What is a KOL in China?
A KOL in China is a Key Opinion Leader who is active on social media with a massive digital following. Usually, KOLs are active on a few different platforms but mainly focused on one or two channels.
Initially, KOLs create constant interesting, useful, valuable content and information in different industries and areas to get engaged with their followers. Once they have won the trust from their loyal fans, they tend to start to provide their opinions, attitudes, comments, and reviews towards a topic, a product, or a brand and give recommendations around them.
That’s how the collaborations occurred and how KOL or influencer marketing campaigns were shaped in China.
What are the types of KOLs in China?
KOL Marketing in China, also known as Influencer Marketing around the globe, involves various of brands or companies working with an individual, community, or organization for promoting a product or a brand, or increasing a brand’s awareness through constant good quality contents on social media or e-commerce platforms, including texts, graphics, videos, and livestreams.
The KOL business model has gone viral in China mainly because of the booming of Internet + model, like O2O (Online to Offline) marketing, thanks to its massive deployment of 4G and wireless network since 2014.
Social media provides a flexible platform for everyone willing to create quality contents with their attitude, which is a good fit for the young generation, such as “the post ’80s generation” and “the post ’90s generation”, as well as the “Gen-Z”.
In a huge country like China, the market varies in terms of its geography, tradition, culture, buying habits, and income levels. Working with the right KOLs is as critical as entering the right market. It is actually one critical part of the marketing strategy. Therefore, the next is to understand what types of KOLs they have in China.
KOLs usually get to engage with the audiences who recognize their point of views and attitudes. There are mainly three types of Influencers: Stars & Celebrities, Bloggers, Internet Celebrities (Wang Hong), ranking from Top Stars & Celebrities, Top-tier KOL, Mid-tier KOL, Micro KOL by the numbers of followers.
However, when the KOL Marketing has gone viral and reached its peak time, a new force of influencers – KOC (Key Opinion Consumers), has joined the force, aiming to provide more reliable comments and reviews by testing the products with their expertise. They claim to focus on building a brand image and increasing awareness through their essential authentic and reliable content, which influences the decision-making process.
Although they are still growing, this rising KOC force is powerful enough to draw the brands and marketers’ attention to adjust their strategy to adapt to the new model.
While working with the right KOLs, it could be also beneficial for brands to try to find the potential KOCs through their consumers with rewards, support, and encouragement. Mutual growth brings win-win collaborations and plays a significant role to build up a mature business model.
The best-practices to make a KOL Marketing strategy successful
Before planning, STP (Market Segmenting, Market Targeting, Market Positioning) is the first step that every foreign brand should do. It’s clear that understanding Chinese consumers is the first must-do step to grab the target audiences’ attention with the voice of tone and attitude. It is the key to succeed in China.
For this purpose, you should also consider the 4P and the 4C (Customer, Cost, Convenience, Communication) of Marketing to sharpen your strategy. Knowing where you can sell and how to communicate with the audience is the next to go. Sales channels play a decisive role to choose the social media channels to communicate with the target audiences, as well as KOLs and KOCs. Besides BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent), Chinese new Internet giants Bytedance and Pingduoduo have gained popularity among all age ranges of audiences.
Therefore, choosing the right social media is essential. The safest option is to start with one or two to see how the market acts.
With the cost of all types of KOLs and the budgets, it’s now time to define the objectives. Whether you expect to build brand image and increase brand awareness or generate sales, timelines and project management are one of the essential elements to planning a successful campaign. Of course, “content is king”, it will help brands build up a strong image and a bridge to approach to the users.
Since 2009, China has invested a lot in 5G deployment and applications. In 2021, 5G is going to transform the e-commerce experience in terms of speed, capacity, flexibility, limitless opportunities for customer immersion, and multi-device shopping. The KOLs model is going to adapt to this change and trend as well