This year’s Alibaba Singles’ Day celebration proved that a live-streamer(主播) can turn into a mega-influencer/KOL(超級網紅) that garners the same attention as a top idol. Starting his career as an online lipstick salesperson on Taobao, LiJiaqi(李佳琦) has since become one of the most recognized internet celebrities/KOLs (網紅) in China. His overnight explosion in popularity is shedding light on the unique influencer/KOL phenomenon that’s been birthed by China’s highly competitive e-commerce and social media platforms.
Idols were always considered to be the best drivers of luxury products, but the mega-influencers(超級網紅) are catching up. According to the Baidu Keyword Searching Index(百度關鍵字搜索), the search volume for Li Jiaqi(李佳琦) was higher than top idols Cai Xukun(蔡徐坤) and Kris Wu(吳亦凡) over the past month, which would be unheard of during the early days of celebrity influencers. From Zhang Dayi(張大奕), a former No.1 influencer/KOL in China, to Li Jiaqi, 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 the future.
Li Jiaqi’s explosion and other live-streamers’ springing up,points toward a trend in influencer/KOL e-commerce(網紅電商): a platform-oriented model that connects influencers/KOLs, brands, and consumers.The emergence of many new social media platforms and types of digital content has also been shaping China’s e-commerce and the influencer economy. Words, images, videos, and live-streaming have had to adapt to each different platform.
As a leader in this industry, T-mall Global announced in early November that they’re launching an “influencer/KOL incubator” (網紅孵化器) to facilitate a worldwide influencer ecosystem. The first big experiment with this initiative was a live-stream collaboratively hosted by Viya Huang(薇婭) and Kim Kardashian Weston 2019 Singles’ Day.
Despite her prowess in the American influencer economy, Kardashian West has had to adapt to a set of different rules to win over consumers in China, and Viya, who is currently that country’s top live-streamer,can help accelerate this process. Although Kardashian’s debut in China around Singles’Day was nothing short of awkward, she was able to sell out 15,000 KKW fragrances in a few minutes with the support of Viya’s loyal followers, with most not knowing who Kim Kardashian West even is.
Mega-influencers(超級網紅) like Viya and Li Jiaqi can play a big role in introducing foreign brands and overseas influencers to domestic followers.Also, as live streaming on Douyin(抖音直播), Kuaishou(快手直播), and Taobao(淘寶直播) has become popular with users in lower-tier cities, although micro-KOLs cannot compete with the big ones in terms of sheer numbers, their followers’ stickiness and buying power are by no means inferior.
If you had Taobao, T-mall Jingdong or other China e-shops, influencers/KOLs live-streaming is the best way to increase sales in China market.