5 TOP TIPS FOR USING CHINESE KEY OPINION LEADERS

5 TOP TIPS FOR USING CHINESE KEY OPINION LEADERS

18 May, 2015 - Uncategorised

The Chinese market consumes more than 30% of luxury goods worldwide, a figure anticipated to grow to 50% by 2020. The growth potential of this market drives more and more brands to consider Chinese consumers as a serious part of their global marketing campaigns. Western brands are now waking up to the importance of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), a strategy which has paid dividends for a number of brands but which, if not used carefully’ can be equally as detrimental. We look at the top 5 tips for working with social media KOLs in the UK.

fan-bing-bing-lv-alma-bag1According to the data by Taobao Star (China’s equivalent to Amazon), a survey of 500 million Taobao users,’ The survey suggests that Fan Bingbing, is now being regarded as one of the most influencing Chinese celebrities, single-handedly drove 450,000,000 RMB ($75,000,000) in Taobao sales in 2013, making her one of the most commercially valuable Chinese performers (Blouinartinfo). She represents a diverse range brands from Louis Vuitton and Chopard to L’Oreal, the key to her success is that she represents the Chinese female ideal, whilst not being overexposed in her choice of representative brands. Other similar success stories have been Xin Zhou for Chanel and Li Bing Bing for Gucci.

(Images from Baidu)

 

Traditional celebrities such as movie stars and singers are not the only KOLs who can drive traffic and sales to Chinese consumers for brands, the mass utilization of social media in China in the past 6-10 years has now spawned the growth of the ‘E-Celeb’ social media home grown social media KOLs with just as much influence as big name celebrities. Gogoboi is one of the most influential weibo fashion bloggers Weibo, with 4.43 million followers and the potential to drive sales for brands and products he mentions on his blog. Gogoboi has turned his fame from his blog into a career, he is now a writer for several fashion magazines in China and has had collaborations with brands such as Louis Vuitton.

65b52e49jw1e2ogqu8rx5j (From personal Weibo account)

So why are KOLs so successful in brand representation and driving sales? The answer is simple, KOLs represent the brand aesthetic and provide a quick route to the consumer in a market where the brands do not have the same established presence as they do in the West. Luxury brands have only been establishing their identity in China in the last 10-20 years and as such they have very little time to impart a brand identity which has been part of the western consumer mindset for 60 years or more in most cases. Utilizing celebrities and social media KOLs accelerates the brands market entry to China with a direct impact on sales.

Small to medium sized companies in the UK can also access their Chinese consumer with greater ease by utilizing Chinese social media KOLs, this can provide a cheap and productive way to engage with the Chinese consumer living in or coming to the UK, raise brand profile and increase sales at the same time. KOLs should however always be used with caution. Below are our top 5 tips for working with KOLs in the UK

image (Images from Baidu)

Top 5 Tips for UK brands using Chinese Social Media KOLs

  1. Choose your Chinese KOL carefully and ensure they represent your brands ideology, for example if you are a luxury fashion brand do not use a KOL who represents street fashion unless you are promoting a new product targeted at younger/urban wear consumers.
  2. Don’t be fooled by follower numbers. Recently, there is a widespread phenomenon that followers on Chinese social media, Weibo and WeChat or even Instagram can be paid to follow a brands account. The price varies, depending on the degree of fan’ interaction. On average, 100 inactive fans is worth 1 RMB (10 pence). The number of followers and fans on their account is not always reliable, the authenticity of engagement is all that matters.
  3. Understand your return on investment key performance indicators, each post should have a clear indication of ROI for the brands, should you be trying only to raise awareness this will be defined by the number of impressions and engagement (comments, likes and forwards). Should you be trying to drive sales then the KPI will be products sold.
  4. Verify the reputation of KOLs before they become your brand ambassador. KOLs reputation is constantly changing due to the nature of social engagement. A KOL who is popular one day may fall out of favor with their audience within a couple of months, impacting your brand message. Get an agency involved who can give you an independent review of KOLs on the market and advise as to whether they are on brand.
  5. Be aware of KOLs who have a high level of brand endorsement postings Social media KOLs frequently represent a number of brands as a revenue generation opportunity. The more popular the KOLs, the greater the roster of brands wanting access to their followers, for many KOLs however this has proven to be a double edged sword. Where a KOL has a high number of brand endorsements, they begin to alienate their audience who begin to feel that the KOL is no longer providing an independent source of information, this will also have a knock on impact for the brand.

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(Images from Edelman)

The rise of social media KOLs is a new world for luxury brand promotion, choosing and engaging with the right KOL will effectively build the brand reputation and drive sales cost effectively and quickly. The brand will unfortunately loose some control of their voice as they are effectively speaking through a second source. Brands need to regularly monitor their KOLs engagement posts, by reviewing the positive and negative comments, how many of the followers are high influencers on a wider basis and engaging with highly influential followers who give negative feedback as part of a social media risk management strategy. The long on short of it is that KOLs particularly social media KOLs can significantly increase sales for a brand and have a positive impact on brand presence for a fraction of the cost of tradition advertising, as long as a brand is willing to mitigate the risk presented by a social media engagement.