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5 KOL Marketing Trends in China for 2020

From Zhang Dayi(張大奕), a former No.1 influencer/KOL in China, to Li Jiaqi(李佳琪),businesses wanting to market in China must look at what’s happened to China’s influencer/KOL economy(網紅經濟) over the past decade in order to understand what Chinese influencer trends we will see in 2020.
Here are 5 KOL marketing trends in China for the coming 2020.
1.     More KOLs to be Pivoting to E-commerce Live Streaming in 2020
Live Streaming is one of the KOL marketing trends.  E-commerce live streaming has blown up in 2019 and proved highly rewarding for its leading exponents, so we’re anticipating more KOLs to be pivoting to e-commerce live streaming in 2020. Live streaming has also become a key feature of Alibaba’s show piece Singles’ Day sales. This year’s edition of the November 11 event had around 2,000 KOLs showcasing products via live streams with e-commerce integration. Even Fan Bingbing(范冰冰) has turned to live-streaming, recently auctioning RMB 10 million worth of her Fan Beauty line of face masks in only four minutes. Put simply, if young Chinese consumers prize authenticity and the sense of a real connection with the influencers they trust, live streaming is the ideal format for generating that bond.
2.     More Brands will Recognize the Value of Micro-KOLs
While brands are always tempting to court the KOLs with the most followers for collaborations and endorsements, 2020 will see more brands recognizing the value of Micro-KOLs. Although these lower-tier influencers have less followers, they still having two appealing advantages to brands. Micro-KOLs are more able to respond to messages from followers and as a result, they can communicate greater authenticity and seem more “real.” It will lead to a closer bond with followers, who are in turn more likely to trust and act on the KOL’s recommendations and endorsements.Additionally, Micro-KOLs tend to be followed by fewer fake accounts than the more prominent KOLs. One strategy that brands are pursuing is to cultivate followership among smaller KOLs, insider groups who they hope can become advocates for the brands.
3. KOLs’ own brands will win big
The trend pioneered by the likes of Zhang Dayi(張大奕) and Becky Li(黎貝卡) is becoming the norm as increasing numbers of KOLs launch their own brands. Easy access to manufacturing hubs gives Chinese KOLs a low barrier to entry, and creating your own product is the logical extension of a personal brand founded on perceived authenticity and integrity. Fans have enthusiastically supported KOLs who they believe in. Beauty influencer Benny, also known as Dong Zichu(董子初), made a huge splash with his male beauty brand Croxx during last year’s Singles’ Day sales, so look out for KOL-owned success stories from Singles’ Day 2019 as ones to watch for next year.
4. Private traffic: From KOLs to KOCs
Key Opinion Customers (KOCs) are an emerging focus of marketers’ strategies. Think of your KOCs as evangelists for your brand. They already buy your product, and better still, they tell your friends and family that they should too. One thing you can be sure of is that the idea of “private traffic” will be everywhere in 2020. Private traffic refers to acquiring sales via channels and consumers that are otherwise closed to the brand, but for the assistance of KOCs. A WeChat group, for example, is a kind of private traffic. So increasingly,companies like beauty brand Perfect Diary are creating WeChat groups of KOCs to share brand news, then watching as these super fans disseminate news and promotions through their own private channels.
5. Video content will grow in importance
Social media in China right now is all about video, but what that means is constantly evolving. Platforms will continue to tweak formats and roll out new features. Creators, including KOLs, will experiment with different styles of content across platforms like Xiaohongshu(小紅書), Bilibili(嗶哩嗶哩動畫), Douyin’(抖音) and Kuaishou(快手), as well as “traditional” platforms like Weibo(微博) and WeChat(微信). Users’consumption habits will change accordingly. Douyin’s trial of in-video search has the potential to be revolutionary,bringing product placement to the fore and creating new opportunities for cross-category collaboration between brands and KOLs.
Although knowing the importance of China KOL marketing, branding and marketing departments may not have the resources or experience to navigate the world of it.That’s why we’re seeing more and more brands turning to third-party experts for assistance at every step, from advising on choosing KOL partners and campaign strategies to measuring results.
WeChatAgency who specializes in China KOL marketing knows the landscape and personalities who populate it. You could consider working with us if your brand could use a steady hand when approaching China KOL marketing.


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