When KOL Marketing Makes Sense: A Guide for B2C and B2B Brands in China
KOL marketing can be highly effective for certain types of brands, while other forms of online marketing may be more suitable for others. Here's an honest assessment of when KOL marketing makes sense for B2C and B2B brands in China and when other strategies might be more appropriate.
- Fashion, beauty, and luxury brands: These brands benefit significantly from KOL marketing as consumers often seek trusted opinions and recommendations when purchasing high-end or trendy items. KOLs can showcase products, demonstrate their use, and create aspirational content that resonates with their audience.
- Lifestyle and wellness brands: KOLs with expertise in health, fitness, and well-being can introduce new products, offer advice, and share personal experiences, creating trust and credibility among consumers.
- Brands targeting younger demographics: KOL marketing can be particularly effective for brands aiming to reach a younger audience, as they are more likely to be influenced by online personalities.
However, for some B2C brands, like those offering essential goods or services where the focus is primarily on price and availability, other forms of online marketing, such as search engine marketing (SEM) or programmatic advertising, might be more cost-effective.
- Brands offering niche products or services: KOL marketing can be useful for B2B brands targeting a specific industry or sector. Collaborating with expert KOLs can help establish credibility, demonstrate product benefits, and generate leads.
- Brands seeking thought leadership: B2B brands that aim to position themselves as industry leaders can benefit from KOL partnerships to create insightful and engaging content, generating awareness and trust.
For B2B brands where the focus is on forging long-term relationships and direct communication with clients, other forms of online marketing, such as content marketing, LinkedIn advertising, or targeted email campaigns, might be more suitable.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of KOL marketing depends on the brand's objectives, target audience, and industry. It's essential to carefully consider these factors when deciding whether to incorporate KOL marketing into a marketing strategy in China or focus on other online marketing tactics.
Chinese "Influencers" (KOLs) Simplified: A Quick Look at Their Roles and Categories
In the world of digital marketing, there are key players who shape consumer behavior and preferences. While the West often focuses on "social media influencers," China has its unique set of powerful figures called KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Here's a simple yet captivating breakdown of the differences between Western influencers and various types of KOLs in China.
Western social media influencers are individuals who have gained popularity and credibility on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. They often endorse products, services, or ideas and influence their followers' choices.
In China, KOLs serve a similar purpose but encompass a broader range of personalities and expertise. Here are some distinct categories of KOLs in the Chinese market:
- Celebrity KOLs: These are famous actors, singers, or public figures who have a massive fan base. Brands leverage their star power to create buzz and attract consumers.
- Expert KOLs: These KOLs possess deep knowledge in a specific field, such as fashion, technology, or fitness. They attract followers seeking reliable advice and trustworthy recommendations.
- KOCs (Key Opinion Consumers): KOCs are everyday consumers who share their experiences and reviews of products or services. Their authenticity and relatability make them influential among their peers.
- Livestreamer-KOLs: These KOLs host live streams on platforms like Taobao and Douyin, showcasing products and interacting with viewers in real-time. Their engaging content and instant purchasing options drive sales and conversions.
- Micro-KOLs: These are KOLs with smaller but highly engaged followings. They often focus on niche markets and have a more intimate connection with their audience, resulting in higher trust and engagement.
In conclusion, China's KOL landscape is diverse and complex, offering brands a wide array of opportunities to connect with their target audiences. Understanding these differences and tapping into the right KOL category can greatly enhance a brand's marketing success in the Chinese market.
To help you get started on your KOL marketing journey and provide some preliminary insight, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions that our clients often have. This information can serve as a valuable foundation before reaching out to us for a more in-depth discussion. By reviewing these FAQs, you'll gain a better understanding of the KOL marketing landscape and whether it's the right fit for your brand. We invite you to explore these questions and look forward to the opportunity to discuss your unique needs and objectives in a one-on-one meeting.
- What types of brands and industries does your KOL agency specialize in?Skincare, Fashion, Food, Kids and Beverage, B2B in AI, Biotech and Medical Device.
- How do you select and match KOLs with brands to ensure a successful partnership?We look into the KOLs followers' quantity and quality in terms social engagement, experiences in the verticals, if their looks, styles, content depth and creativity meeting the clients' brand positioning.
- What is the typical cost of a KOL marketing campaign, and what factors influence pricing?Price can ranges from 1,000 RMB for a KOC with 20,000 followers to 100,000 RMB for 3 million followers on Little Redbook which is suitable for brand awareness campaign; while on Douyin, commission based of 30% to 35% of the sales revenue is more often if they see your products' potential to sell. While Tmall/Taobao's KOLs are charging a fixed fee with 20% commission, some with guaranteed ROI of 3 to 5. Other factors that affect price are type of content, whether it's to post a piece supplied by brand, or content created KOL, whether it's text/image, or video; and whether the compensation includes the product itself.
- How do you measure the success and ROI of a KOL marketing campaign?Usually we look at the indicators, like brand searches, mentions, hashtags, followers if the campaign is mean to improve the brand awareness. If it's to increase sales, we measure the ROI on the conditions that sales can be tracked and attributed to the KOLs.
- Can your agency manage campaigns on multiple Chinese social media platforms?Yes, to cover wider audience, we plan and execute campaigns across different social media platforms by creating a unified content plan, sending the same advertising message, measuring the performance via a benchmarked measurement system, though also taking into account the different attributes of each platforms, say video content for Douyin, but text/image content for Wechat and Little Red; socializing with strangers on Weibo, which is an anonymous platform.
- Do you provide assistance in content creation and collaboration between the brand and KOL?Yes, we usually encourage KOLs to create content of their experience with the product or service, rather than pay them to post content provided by us/the brands. During the outreach period with the KOLs, we're able to identify how much KOLs know about the brands, gauge how much they like or would like to test the brands products/service, then we're able to lead them to come up with creative thoughts in content creation and even some KOLs are open to ideas of swap their service for products rather than a fee.
- How do you ensure that KOL partnerships comply with local advertising regulations and guidelines?Firstly, social media platforms have established a review and censorship system on the content submitted by KOLs too, as anything goes wrong they're liable for not complying to the regulations.
Most KOLs are managed through agencies, which have developed a well defined the contracts and working/delivery standards that are in compliance with regulations. We on behalf of brands interests will try to push KOLs to deliver more to brands' benefits without going beyond the limit based on our experiences.
- What is the typical duration of a KOL marketing campaign, and how far in advance should we plan?It varies from 7 days to 30 days for a campaign, depending on the importance of the shopping festival, how many other social and eCommerce platforms need to be integrated, and whether it's pure brand awareness or sales promotion. Usually we need 10 to 45 days to plan ahead.
- Can your agency help with the negotiation of contracts and terms with KOLs?Yes, we do. Firstly, here are quite a lot of details that can come up as hidden cost if they're not defined initially, for example the strictness to stick to the script on live streaming, the time spot of the livestreaming for your brand, which can make a huge difference in sales, but may not be able to be defined in contract. Secondly, KOLs tend to sign contract with companies with Chinese entity and get first installment paid in advance. These can be an issue for foreign brands, even for big brands with China entities.
- Do you offer any guarantees for the success of a KOL marketing campaign, and how do you handle underperforming campaigns?We tend to work with KOLs that offer commission based partnership only; or KOLs that guarantee positive ROI. For brand awareness, we tend to work with KOLs on the rise who charge lower than those established ones.