How to Leverage KOL for My Fashion Brand in China
if you have a Fashion Brand and want to sell in China, you have to read this. In the past 5 years, KOLs have become a phenomenon in China.
KOL in China a Hot Topic
Creating high-quality content on social media and followed by a group of loyal followers (ranging from thousands to millions) they implement a new kind of WOM marketing. KOLs are highly instrumental in most China marketing campaigns and extremely powerful to change the way brands communicate their message to consumers.
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With the rise of social media, a digital ecosystem has become more social-oriented. KOLs have a significant impact on followers’ consumption habits by providing more authentic and trustworthy content.
By working with KOLs, brands are able to raise brand awareness, build a more intimate relationship with customers and drive sales. However, the fragmentation of Chinese social media has brought great challenges to marketers. The absence of Facebook and Instagram daunt western brands but China’s homegrown platforms depict by far a unique social media landscape to penetrate the market.
Segmentation of KOLs
The KOL search engine and monitoring platform, Robin8, divided Chinese KOLs into three segments, namely 1) big celebrities, 2) Wang Hong, self-media, and industry experts, and 3) micro-influencers and KOLs to be uncovered. The total market value of all three segments is expected to reach RMB 52.2 billion in 2021.
The top segment is all about big celebrities, famous actors and singers. This segment has the highest charge – ranging from a few million to tens of millions RMB for a single endorsement. The average fee of big celebrities in 2016 was RMB 5 million and is expected to reach RMB 10 million in 2021.
Micro Influencer / KOL / Wanghong
The KOL middle segment includes Wang Hong, self-media, and industry experts who make about RMB 1 million on average. The term “Wang Hong” (网红) means Internet Celebrities in Chinese.
The phenomenon of Wang Hong started when self-media was booming and younger people got fame by expressing themselves, meanwhile, e-commerce called for innovative endorsement, especially in the fashion and beauty industry. Therefore, Wang Hong originally referred to young good-looking men and women working as hosts on social media and video live streaming platforms.
According to Kantar China Social Media Impact Report 2017, Papi Jiang (Papi酱), the entertainment video creator, is the No.1 social media KOL.
The bottom segment consists of micro-influencers and ordinary social media app users to be uncovered as KOLs. There are about one million KOLs in this section. Although micro-influencers have fewer followers, they are effective in reaching a niche group of people, bringing more interactions and building a closer relationship with followers.
When working with KOLs, more and more brands have started to attach importance to micro-influencers, as they become more mature and stop using the number of followers as the only criteria. In 2021, micro-influencers are expected to create RMB 41.2 billion in total.
China is the Most Digital Oriented Country
The Chinese spend a large amount of time connected to their mobile phones. In 2017 Chinese app users spent around 225 billion hours in apps, which is 4.5 times longer than the second-highest market – India.
This time is largely divided between social, e-commerce, games, and search, which is why the lines between social and e-commerce have easily become so blurred.
This is where KOLs come in
Chinese consumers rely heavily on the opinions of KOLs as well as their own social networks. According to Cyril Drouin, Chief e-commerce officer for Greater China, “if you don’t have a KOL, you won’t sell.”
Platforms to Reach Customers in an Optimal Way
Wechat KOL effective or not?
Wechat has been evolving quickly, especially within the last two years after the release of mini-programs, favoring KOLs and the social selling aspect of e-commerce.
Many KOLs have Subscription Accounts, which can now seamlessly link to e-commerce mini-programs. This means that a consumer can be reading a piece of content from their favorite KOL, one-click gets them into this KOLs Wechat mini program where they can browse products, share with friends, and in just a few clicks purchase whatever they desire all without leaving WeChat.
Wechat is giving KOLs more and more tools to sell on this social media platform but isn’t the only tool KOLs have been maximizing.
Livestreaming the new thing
Forget fancy video cameras and staged performances, China is all about right here, right now.
Live streaming in China has boomed in the past year and a report from Deloitte finds that China is likely to continue to top live streaming records, with viewers reaching over 450 million. The revenue generated from live streaming will rise 32 percent from 2017 to hit USD$ 4.4 billion in 2018.
You can view everything from people playing with their cat, to a KOL attending the latest shoe launch at an exclusive hotel. See below, a KOL lives streaming a cooking show using the client’s products at a tradeshow. Her live stream aired on an e-commerce platform where viewers could watch and purchase what she was using, all on the same platform.
Live streaming can be used for product launches, exclusive events, thought-leadership building, trade shows, and more.
The Right KOL for my Brand?
The trick here is to choose the right KOL to work with. Brands must approach KOLs that are on the right platform for their brand, and concern themselves with the quality of fans a KOL has, not the quantity.
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