The Pros and Cons of KOL Marketing in the Chinese Luxury Market

The Chinese luxury market has been on a steady incline for the past few years, as a matter of fact, China is the number one market for luxury brands in terms of sales and revenue. With so many brands vying for China’s attention, it can be difficult to navigate through the marketing channels. KOLs are an effective way of reaching this highly sought-after demographic. However, as with any other form of marketing in China, there are both pros and cons when entering this space. It’s important to be aware of these before making decisions about potential partnerships or campaigns.

  • The Pros: An established celebrity can generate an instant following among their followers which will translate to increased sales for your brand
  • The Cons: Can be expensive & you often have little control over how your product will be portrayed which could lead to negative feedback from consumers who feel duped by false advertising.

What is a KOL?

Before we get started, a little reminder of what are Kols and what is KOL marketing. For those of you that are already familiar, jump right to the next part.

A KOL is an “opinion leader” or simply put, a person who has enough of an influence over their social media followers that their word spreads the fastest. A Chinese KOL can be a celebrity, industry expert, online personality, etc. In many cases, KOLs are compensated by brands to endorse their goods and services on public platforms such as WeChat advertisements or Weibo posts. There are several types of influencers in China:

  • KOL
  • Micro KOL
  • KOC: Key Opinion Consumers
  • Stars

KOL Marketing in China- also known as content marketing in China, is the fastest growing digital marketing channel. According to recent studies by Tencent, KOLs accounted for an astounding 71% engagement rate among Chinese mobile internet users. KOL marketing took off in China because Chinese consumers tend to be wary of brands and their official communication and trust peer reviews more. Word of mouth is also the number criteria in purchasing from a new brand. Combining these two reasons, you have a perfect ground for the rapid development of KOL Marketing in China.

What are the Pros of Kols Marketing in China?

Kols Marketing helps brand to reach new target

It is nothing new, Luxury brands in China are reaching new customers through the use of social media. They understand that to find success in this competitive market, they need to connect with their target demographics, such as millennials and female influencers, in a way that feels authentic.

Content creation through KOLs can be applied to different social networks at the same time to increase the impact; Influencers can be brand ambassadors and craft brand content that takes place remotely or on-site; both ways are designed to engage customers around a shared story around luxury brands. The upside is that they represent tangible value because these influencers often double as consultants. They’re like an external resource working for your company, who also brings their own audience storming through your doors. It doesn’t matter if you’re local or international; marketers must start thinking about top influencer campaigns that will help them open up new markets, generate greater engagement levels

Kols Marketing is the most efficient tool for your Reputation in China

Luxury brands in China can engage with Chinese bloggers, another way of extending their voice beyond the store. KOLs attach an emotional aspect to each product they showcase which drives people to feel a need for these products. Furthermore, by reaching out to KOLs, consumers are reassured that the products being advertised are being endorsed by real people and not just an ad-bot spewing back copy.

The use of influence marketing adds proximity between the brand and its subscribers via the KOL. People can more easily identify with their influencers than with the brand directly by establishing accessibility and trust. In addition, the message conveyed through social networks or simply the Internet is much more suited to the target than traditional advertising (metro, TV, magazine, etc.).

Kols Marketing in China benefits your Baidu SEO effort

One thing is for certain, and that is that Influenceurs Marketing in China can help make your Baidu SEO efforts more effective. They’ll rank your website higher by posting links to it on their social media accounts who have many people viewing their content. The benefits of this are twofold:

  • one, they’ll do the work for you- compiling blog posts, compiling thematically related articles and then sending out a tweet or post with a link or embedding an article into their page.
  • Two, traffic generated from these campaigns will increase your website’s rank on Baidu search engine results pages (SERPS). This means getting up to the first page on Baidu – makes it easier for customers to find you online!

In short, By using KOLs or influencers, brands can improve the SEO of articles, blogs, or posts related to their activity, in particular by exchanging links with bloggers with good SEO. This also allows you to have quality articles and reviews in the first pages of research concerning the brand. The experience of blogging is all about participating in a shared conversation surrounding a specific topic or niche interest, so it doesn’t seem distinctly different from having a blog on similar topics as long as the blogger has both links to your website and also links from other sites as well. Engaging through KOLs helps leverage grassroots marketing efforts for those

Kols Marketing in China also come with its Own Set of Challenges

It is not easy to find a reliable Kol to Work with, let alone many

  • Language Barrier: One of the biggest and most obvious issues of finding Chinese influencers to collaborate with comes down to language barriers. Most Chinese influencers often understand little English which would make them unwilling (or unable) to communicate back and forth with brands that do not have fluent Chinese speakers in their team.
  • Differents ways of doing things: working habits and way of doing business can differ in major ways between countries. Chinese Kols operates on Chinese social media that have differents regulations than the platforms you are used to. Lack of understanding of business practice and china’s social media landscape can lead to some unfortunate missunderstanding.
  • Are chinese kols reliable? most of them are, but that is not rare to have a kols that you have paid big bucks for, drop you at the last moment for an event. There are severals reason for that: the Kol or their agent may have decided that you brand was not for them and “forgot” to let you know, another brand book the slot and paid more money. Last minutes changes are something normal when doing business in China, and you should definitly be aware of this practice.
  • Scandals & Reputation: To be successful, a commercial operation supported by an influencer must be the subject of an in-depth study so as not to risk the bane of the Internet: the bad buzz. It is enough that your KOL was the subject of legal problems, or bad behavior on the Internet or in real life, of various controversies … and the reputation of the influencer will directly tarnish that of the brand. For instance, in 2021, the ultra popular start Kriss Wu, was accused of multiple sexual assault and although it is not a brands fault, you would not want your name to be associated with him anymore. That is a risk that also exist in the west, and unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent this kind of situation, so be extra carefull of any bad past buzz that your kol of choice may be associated with. Think of it as assessiing a company financial report before investing in it.
  • Fake Kols: Just like with influenceurs in the west, China has a well developped network of fake kols (click and like farms and so on). The only difference, is that you may not be able to detect them by yourself in China because you are not too familiar how it is done here.

How to find the influencers that fit your fashion brand?

There are many agencies for connecting brands and KOLs. To stand out and limit the risks, analyze the behavior of your audience before choosing the influencer that will benefit you. Someone who is very supportive is not enough, you must choose someone who is likely to represent your community while corresponding to the values ​​of the brand. In China, you can use search platforms such as KOL Store, MyPrad, ToutiaoKol, and so on to find the rare pearl.

Kols marketing in China: how does it work?

KOL Marketing in China is the process of how product developers communicate with influencers (or sometimes called thought leaders) in order to turn them into brand ambassadors. This communication typically includes social media posts, blog posts, short & long videos, and other methods that influencers use to create content, the goal is to trigger a purchase act via several affiliation methods such as promotional codes or contests to win gifts. The strategy also is omnichannel marketing as content created by KOLS will often be visible on Chinese search engines and shared on social media by users. The idea is that not only Kol’s entire following will see the big-name endorsement when they’re on social media but others consumers will also be able to stumble on the collaboration when they use Baidu for research on what they need or want.

KOL and luxury, a complex alliance

The figures of influence are intended to increase the visibility of a brand on a large scale, which is quite paradoxical with the exclusivity that characterizes the luxury industry. This is why KOLs in luxury are rather considered as muses; Even more impactful than in classic influencer marketing, the use of an influencer in luxury must be the subject of great attention. The personality chosen must represent the values ​​of the brand to be legitimate to represent it. Note that in China, the use of KOL is extremely effective and the alliance of influencers with luxury does not shock, so do not hesitate to use it if you have the means.

How to collaborate with Chinese influencers?

There are many ways to collaborate with influencers via many digital networks or biases; here are a few examples that can apply to both China and the West:

  • The endowment of product or experience: share and one-to-one invitations to obtain benefits without imposed brief (partnership without remuneration)
  • Sponsored campaigns: allocate an influencer budget to a campaign in order to obtain benefits from powerful influencers, with wording controlled and validated beforehand
  • Affiliation: pay the influencer a percentage of the orders generated thanks to him using platforms such as Awin or RewardStyle
  • Special operations: this involves organizing launch events, influencers’ dinner, but also take-over with influencers; the principle is to let an influencer take control of a brand’s account to acquire new subscribers and offer different content to their community. Finally, the meet-ups: organize a meeting between an influencer and his community to promote the brand.
  • Tools for making listings: The most important is personal monitoring. For micro-influence, tools such as Hivency or Octoly (to be understood correctly) or platforms such as Kolsquare for editing listings according to keywords.
  • Engagement verification tools to detect the purchase of fake followers, identify the target and reach of each influencer like HypeAuditor for example, which allows verifying the authenticity of an influencer community

China Fashion Agency: Smooth Kols Solution for China

Our agency has specialists in the luxury industry working exclusively to grow our KOLs portfolio. This way we are able to offer our customers the best of KOLs marketing while mostly avoiding the cons and challenges of it. Contact us and let’s discuss your project!

Read more about KOLs Marketing in China

One Comment

  1. With the new Chinese generations, Millennials and Generations Z, constantly connected to their smartphones, social networks have become the key to the success of companies wishing to approach Chinese consumers.

    Who says Chinese social networks, says KOL (Key Opinion Leaders). Indeed, these opinion leaders are today THE key segment in the marketing strategy of all companies. They give the Chinese public their views and judgments on a product, brand or even a service and wield tremendous influence on their buying decisions. The use of these KOLs in China has been an established practice for years and weighs much more than here, hence the rapid emergence of a large influence market in the country. And foreign companies that promote themselves with KOLs see their sales and awareness increase very significantly. Faced with such success and the pressing demand from brands, being a KOL in China has become a real job!

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