Chinese influencers: what’s a KOL?
Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are popular social media users who use to create a buzz or any viral content while generating a large following on social media platforms. Most of them operate in a field in which they have certain expertise.
They’ll, therefore, create a personal connection with fans while sharing advice, reviews, instructions, or tips about lifestyle subjects, brands, trips, or products. In China, KOLs have a much stronger influence than in any other country. And they can generate millions of followers trusting their advice and actively engaging with the daily content they create.
What is the role of KOLs in influencing marketing in China?
You may have seen a lot of teenagers in your country or on social media trying their best to be as much popular as possible. And in China, it’s a real business model. These mega-popular influencers are called “wangzi” in Chinese. And they have such power that they can literally serve as brand ambassadors and make a fortune of it…
They basically educate Chinese consumer toward overseas products, represents local brands or demonstrate a very particular lifestyle following the trends code of the country. And because more and more international products grow in importance among Chinese consumers, some E-commerce platform such as Tmall gets ready to use KOL at a new level. In China, “influencer incubators” are coming.
How do KOLs become such influencers in China?
The E-commerce giant: Tmall, is planning to create a long-term consumer-facing group of lifestyle consultant. Meaning KOL willing to share the same lifestyle as Chinese consumers but mostly anything that people may enjoy and later on buy. They plan to support around 2,000 wangzi (these mega-popular influencers) to build up a huge network. They already have 500 of them from 10 countries.
How to become an influencer in China?
For e-commerce platforms in China, live-streaming is the main tool for Chinese influencers. Live streaming alone represents an increase of +309% product in views in 2018 and an increase of +430% in products purchased totaling RMB 470 million.
What are the main tools commonly used by KOLs in China?
- Short video marketing
- Chinese social media
- And others to engage Chinese consumers
How much money do influencers earn in China?
- For one single post, Chinese influencers can earn from $1000 to $10,000 depending on the size of their community, their sector of influence, and their relationships with brands.
- If you’re really famous you can reach millions. (Kim K.W managed to do $1 million for live streaming).
- Influence in China is not only exclusive to a Chinese citizen, foreigners can also become really famous and win a lot of money in China.
The case of live streamer Xinba for 11.11
When people mention Chinese e-commerce live streaming, the top KOLs that comes to mind is often Taobao’s leading pair Austin Li (李佳琦) and Viya (薇娅). But in fact, another top live streamer is Xinba (辛巴) who streams on the video app Kuaishou.
On Oct 18, Xinba held a concert in Shanghai, and at the event, he revealed that his goal for this year’s Double 11 is to achieve over 6 billion RMB sales at least, and he hopes his team can make a combined 8 billion RMB ($1.2 billion). This number would be an impossible number for many people’s lives. So, gossip time, can Xinba achieve this? Or is he just gaining eyeballs?
Influencer Xinba’s performance on Kuaishou
Up to Oct 16, Xinba has done 20 live streams in 2020, 2 live streams each month on average. In total, he achieved over 5.3 billion RMB in sales. The largest one was his stream for 618. On that day, he made 1.25 billion RMB in sales. You may already notice that, compared with Austin and Viya and other live streamers, Xinba streams at a much lower frequency.
This is because he’s got a good team behind him who often run streams on his behalf. His team includes Dandan (蛋蛋) who made 8 billion RMB sales last year, Shidapiaoliang (时大漂亮) who made over 3 billion RMB sales, and Zhao Mengche (赵梦澈) who achieved over 1.5 billion RMB in sales.
And that was even before live streaming got as popular as it is now, incredible… In total, Xinba’s team has 14 live streamers including himself. And the team’s sales performance from January to October 16 is 14.7 billion RMB. On average, each order is 115 RMB, and each month his team achieves over 1.5 billion RMB in sales.
Why is Xinba so popular?
Xinba has 70.5M followers on the video platform Kuaishou. He chooses the right platform for the reason that the majority of Kuaishou’s users are located in third and fourth-tier cities and Xinba grew up in the countryside, so he relates to and understands his followers very well.
Xinba initially grew his following by sending virtual gifts to other content creators and live streamers on the platform. He was very generous and his name often showed up on the top-ranked gifter board. By supporting others, he actually guided traffic to his own Kuaishou account.
On top of that, Xinba’s wife Chu Ruixue (初瑞雪) is also a top live streamer on Kuaishou with 29.4M followers. Chu’s parents and Xinba’s parents all have Kuaishou accounts, and the family is guiding traffic to each other.
Do you want to know more about KOLs in China?
You need to understand that China and its consumers suffered from a lot of scams, fake products, fake companies and counterfeit… at a point that they couldn’t trust any brand anymore. Therefore, as they couldn’t trust corporate communication, they decided to rely on people. On the consumers themselves.
Furthermore, consider the endorsement of social media and e-commerce. For Chinese people, social networks/media take part in the shopping experience. They can do shopping while reading a post or watching videos from their favorite KOL. And all these elements made Key Opinion Leaders a top-selling tool for companies and are therefore highly valued assets for brands.
Read more about live streaming in China: