Technological advancement has changed the way brands communicate. Brands don’t just rely on traditional advertisements but go beyond to achieve success. KOL Marketing is one of the most effective marketing methods in China. Whether your are a brand that is based in China or overseas, utilising KOL Marketing in your marketing strategy would be highly beneficial.
What is a Key Opinion Leader (KOL)?
KOLs stands for Key Opinion Leaders. It refers to those who possess expert knowledge on a given niche or subject, and have a large following on various social media platforms.
KOLs can include:
- Doctors and dentists
- Professional advisors
In 2019, China’s KOL industry was valued at over $8 Billion USD as KOLs have become an integral part to the ecosystem which promotes social selling. KOL Marketing is so effective as the massive amount of social media consumption has had the power to influence a person’s decision making capacity and motivated them to purchase a brand’s product.
Why Is KOL Marketing so Effective?
KOL marketing is very effective as KOLs are often seen as experts in their respective field, they are trustworthy and authentic. The massive amount of social media consumption has had the power to influence a person’s decision making capacity and in turn, motivate them to purchase a brand’s product.
1. KOLs can help you target your ideal audience or niche
McKinsey splits word-of-mouth recommendations into two types:
- High-impact recommendations: usually from people we trust, like close friends or experts (KOLs)
- Low-impact recommendations: usually from someone with less credibility, like a random online review or a stranger.
A high-impact recommendation is up to 50 times more likely to influence a purchase decision than a low-impact recommendation. This means that building a long-term relationship with KOLs will give you access to the power of high-impact recommendation.
2. KOLs can help you generate sales and improve ROI
KOLs can help brands improve brand visibility, and ultimately boost sales. With marketers seeing Influencer Marketing yielding an average ROI of $6.50 for each dollar spent. This also means that the effectiveness of KOL Marketing could have a tremendous impact on your bottom line.
For instance, Becca Cosmetics collaborated with a well known influencer Jaclyn Hill to create “Champagne Pop”. This marketing strategy has helped opened the brand up to a larger consumer market by using the right KOLs.
3.KOL Marketing can be more affordable than a Celebrity Endorsement
We all know working with celebrities are notoriously expensive, and may not have the best ROI for your marketing spend. Therefore, working with a group of smaller KOLs and having a more frequent KOL Marketing campaign is quite affordable. Although the fee that KOLs charge may vary hugely. Social media metrics that should be taken in consideration for an accurate indicator for pricing includes engagement rate, click rate, conversion rate etc.
4. KOL Marketing takes advantage of Location-Based Technology to improve reach
This is very similar to Instagram’s location tag on posts. Platforms such as Tiktok, Xiaohongshu, Weibo, and WeChat all have the location tags and ‘Nearby’ function. This helps improve the reach to the right targeted local users.
How have these KOLs taken over the market?
The clutter of advertisements has confused the audience more than before. KOLs are considered to be more vital than mass media since they are able to connect and relate to their audience in a way that is more authentic and intimate. These KOL are the ones who are performing double duties of not only connecting with their audience but also have a specific target demographic. Such an approach allows brands to effectively allocate their marketing budget and focus on building a long term relationship with the targeted niche audience. This is completely opposite to the trigger of buying a product after watching a 1 minute advertisement on television or passing by a billboard advertisement.
Gen Z and Millennials consumers heavily rely and trust KOL Marketing and Online Reviews
With the current landscape in China, Accenture polled 10,000 consumers across 13 markets, including 1,000 in China, and have found that 70% of Chinese Gen Z consumers (those who are born after 1995) are more reliant on social media for shopping than even millennials. While social media also matters to millennials, a small proposition (58%) of Chinese consumers born between 1990 -1995 say they prefer to use social media for shopping. This further emphasises the effectiveness of KOL Marketing.
Why is the using KOL Marketing (Chinese Purchasing Journey) more effective?
Take a look at this customer journey diagram from Boston Consulting Group, it highlights the difference between the West and East Purchasing Journey. The online shopping journey is very seamless in China, the typical consumer embarks on a journey of exploration and discovery – to see what’s new or what’s trending online to purchasing the product immediately through embedded purchase links. Therefore, the path from discovery to purchase is very seamless and streamlined. Whereas, in the Western market, consumers see something they like on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram etc, they usually have to exit the app to search for the product and buy it. This step requires extra time and effort for the user.
How to find the best Key Opinion Leaders?
Brands should start by considering how relevant the influencer is with their target demographic. It is important to assess which influencer is most visible and targets the right people and potential customers.
There is a contrast between micro-influencers, middle-influencers, macro-influencers and bloggers. In order to determine the reach for your campaign, companies need to consider not just their budget but also in terms of their brand image.
Having found the right KOL for your brand, you would want to know what to do next?
Two platforms that have captured the Chinese market are WeChat and Live Streaming. These apps can be used to promote your brand and act as a starting point for you.
- WeChat – WeChat has been evolving and gives access to the subscription accounts of KOLs. The app allows for a seamless link to ecommerce mini programs. This means a person can read the content posted by a KOL, browse programs and share content with friends without leaving the WeChat app.
- Live Streaming – Another fruitful way to get to your influencer is with the help of live streaming. Everyone is on their phone, either while walking to the bus stop or waiting for the metro and many times people are just swiping through various live streams. These live streams could be used for launching a new product, asking for opinions or playing a guitar. Live Streaming in China recorded views of over 425 million by July 2018 alone and accounts for 200 million registered users.