Influencer strategy is an important part for brands to take brand ownership within the digital universe. In China influencers are called Key Opinion Leaders which is also referred to as KOLs in China. KOLs are social media influencers who have large communities which can support to showcase your product or brand. The KOLs are used in varies Chinese social media platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, Kuaishou, QQ, Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) or even video platform like Youku, Bilibili, Meipai or Nice.
Whether your brand objective is to drive awareness, consideration, or conversion, a KOL strategy should be an essential part of your overall marketing strategy not only because of their reach but as much because of their ability to interact and engage with their audience via post and livestreaming. This give the KOLs a high performance due to their credible recommendation and due to the importance of word-of-mouth effect for Chinese consumers.
The share of marketing spending on KOL marketing has heavily increased over the years and taken shares from traditional spending.
It is estimated that every year more than USD 1 billion is spend on KOL advertising.
Most KOL campaign in China are mainly performed to lead impulsive purchases, as the content created by the KOLs are usually only showcased for short amount of time. When Chinese consumers are finding a product via KOLs it is most likely that the consumers are not looking specifically for the product but when they however come across it, they will probably make an impulsive purchase thinking about the need or deal they can make. This is also why when working with KOLs it is important to think about deal/benefit to the consumer, so the impulsiveness can be captured.
It is therefore recommended when working with KOLs to think about offering short-term discount through KOL posts to create the immediacy for instant purchase. It is also a possibility to consider group purchase or flash sale activations to stimulate high share amongst friends and network of consumers. To understand the scale of impact a KOL can have on your brand if you find the right match, then the King of Lipstick, Li Jiaqi was able to sell 15.000 lipstick within the first 5 minutes.
To succeed with KOLs, it is important to find the right KOL for your brand and to do this there is several of aspect to take into consideration.
Firstly, there is different type of KOLs in China, so you must differentiate those who are expert sellers who are great at sales on the social platforms.
Then there are the ones who are good at creating buzz and drive traffic to a store (both digital and physical stores)
Lastly there is Curators who are good at branding, content and storytelling which can help build emotional trust potential consumers and your brand.
The pick of KOLs all depend on your marketing objectives and who you are as a brand in China. If your brand is just entering China, a combination of expert sellers and curators could be the best choose for your brand. By doing this your will build your brand and its reputation by utilizing the curators and then at the same time gain visibility while you are getting some sales with the expert sellers.