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How to attract Chinese consumers through influencer marketing

The vast market of China has attracted numerous enterprises all over the world. When doing business in China, it can be a headache to promote your brands and generate sales. Fortunately, we are in the internet age in which we can gain influence quickly if we find the right solution. Working with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) is one of the most powerful methods you’ll need.

By Rasmus Gregersen, CEO, NIHAO CPH

NIHAO CPH is an Online Media & Ecommerce Platform targeting Chinese consumers in China. By collaborating with Chinese KOLs on a regular basis they create awareness about Danish products, brands and lifestyle.

Why Chinese KOLs?
Within a decade, the methods Chinese people use to receive information have changed radically. Now people spend more and more time on the internet and social media rather than traditional methods like TV, newspapers etc.

The KOLs in China have a stronger influence on society compared to KOL’s in any other country. It’s quite common that a Weibo account has millions of followers, a blog has millions of subscribers, a video program or live streaming channel has millions of views. The content creators / KOLs on social media platforms have a high influence which can impact their follower’s consumer behavior. The impact KOLs have is an opportunity for brands to create product and brand awareness.

Collaborating with KOLs bring many advantages. Each KOL has its own fan base, with people that are gathered together for some specific reasons, and they have similar background and interest. The most exciting thing is that you can collaborate with KOL’s to influence and impact your potential customers.

Watch Rasmus in short explain the concept of a KOL.

Who are the KOLs?
Chinese KOLs who have significant social media presence can influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. Crucially, they do not only spread information but also their lifestyle, thoughts and ideas. KOLs in China are active across different social media, including Weibo, WeChat, Youku, Yizhibo, Douban and so on. In the KOL landscape, there is a wide range of KOL types and below we have picked three different categories: Celebrities, niche KOLs and live streamers.

  1. Celebrities: These KOLs are usually famous actors, singers, writers, TV-hosts, artists and travelers. They are the most influential KOLs in China, and you will see the celebrities collaborate with well-known national and international brands.
  2. Niche KOLs: Niche KOLs usually focus on specific areas like fashion, food, beauty, travelling and mommy & kids. These KOLs collaborate with brands in campaigns, review products or services and share their opinion based on their own experiences. Collaborating with Niche KOLs gives the opportunity to target a specific interest group and market a suitable product for exactly the people who could be interested.
  3. Livestreamers: In China, live streaming has been a booming trend in the past years and it has opened up a new channel to connect and engage with followers and consumers. Livestreamers have their own show/program or collaborate with brands to be on their platform to show and review products or services on behalf of the brand.

How to include KOLs in your China strategy?
A collaboration with KOLs could give you feedback about your products or service before you enter the Chinese market. If you are already present in the market a collaboration could increase your awareness in the market and reach new customers. Choose the right KOL for your business. Each KOL has its own fans base. A KOL has big influence to some specific group but not everyone. You must do research first to figure out what is the main customer base of your business and then research the fan base of the KOL choosing the KOL who matches your brand the best.

Collaboration examples: Sponsored posts and giveaway campaigns
Brands collaborate with KOLs to create and share content, videos or pictures to get exposures by leveraging the KOLs’ popularity and influence. Sponsored posts work well on platforms like Weibo, WeChat and Youku.

In collaboration with the brands, the KOL post a sponsored giveaway where their followers can win products, services or experiences. Often the followers have to engage in a specific way to participate in the giveaway.

How to find the KOLs?
Choose the right platform first. Different KOLs are active on various platforms. Most KOLs are active on WeChat and Weibo, and if their content is within a specific category like beauty, cosmetic and skin care, you will also find them on video platforms like Youku, Meipai or Bilibili.

The three most common ways to find your KOLs:

  1. Researching and hiring by yourself: Searching the social media, and the screening, cast and hiring are done by yourself. Search the social media platforms for KOLs who match your brand style and establish direct contact.
  2. KOL database: You can access a KOL database and search for KOLs who fit your campaign and brand. The database gives you an overview of the KOLs and is time efficient.
  3. KOL agency: You can also hire a KOL agency to cast, coordinate and execute your campaign. The agency has a selection of KOLs they work with, or they research the network for a KOL who fits your campaign and brand. By collaborating with KOLs you are able to create brand awareness and generate sales in the Chinese market.