The phenomenon of KOL’s (Key Opinion Leaders) in China
The ‘Influencers’ have become a major reality in marketing nowadays, where they present (for a nice fee!) a variety of products on social media like Twitter and Instagram, for consumers (often very young ones) to go out and shop for them. That’s in the West… but in China this whole phenomenon has taken on – as so often is the case there – an entirely spectacular dimension, reaching massive figures of popularity and, yes, sales.
As we already mentioned in the last edition of the S3 in China most Western social media are entirely blocked by the government, diverting the activity of hugely popular KOL’s (Key Opinion Leaders as they are known there) to other, local applications, including the most popular of them all: WeChat (the often erroneously called ‘Chinese WhatsApp’).
Why is KOL marketing so important and so successful on the Chinese market?
- Brands have been strongly weakened by scandals and copies
- Overwhelming ads and info (‘digital noise’)
Closeness of the KOL’s, to look like ‘close friends’, especially to the Generation Z (born between the mid 90’s and mid 2000’s).
The result is the existence of a highly specialized ecosystem where having millions of fans is quite normal and where an endless number of products are being promoted, from cosmetics to hand bags and from sportswear to any type of food and beverages.
The images show some of the most famous KOL’s, like:
- Becky Li (@Miss_shopping_li on WeChat) or… 买买买教主 (‘BuyBuyBuy Goddess’!).
- Mr. Bags, who designs hand bags for Tod’s (Italy) selling 500 units in 6 minutes (at 1.400€/unit!)
- Kakakaoo, the most popular one with 8,7 million followers on Weibo and her own Taobao shop.
Sources: South China Morning Post, Dragon Social, Tenba Group & MAV Social