The new influencer economy has been growing tremendously in the past few years. Especially the Chinese influencers have taken over the market so significantly that, as per the research, they generated 98 billion yuan in 2021 with 44 percent year-over-year growth. This growth is so phenomenal that currently, brands are not hesitating to spend huge money on Chinese influencer marketing.
The trends in the Chinese market show that because of the high growth in the affluent middle-class population who are educated and sophisticated consumers, buying is no more dependent on price alone. Social media dramatically influences people, and they decide to buy a product if it is trending and positively discussed on various online social platforms.
And in today’s digital world, where marketing communication spreads with lightning speed, influencers are able to reach their audience and harness the superpower of their influence to drive their purchase decisions.
Chinese Influencer Marketing At A Glance
If you look closely at China’s influencer market landscape, you can quickly get an idea of its profound rooted influence by the example of Douyin – the Chinese app of TikTok. The KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) on this app have attracted more than 525 million users in China as of April 2021.
The number of influencers in China is more than in any other country, and such a new influencer economy forms a conducive environment for businesses to grow. Influencers know the power of their words and use them effectively daily. On Weibo (a Chinese Twitter-like app), an average of 5.7 posts are published by KOLs daily for their 300 million active followers.
Business segments opt aggressively for influencer marketing in China because it delivers strong online and offline sales results. These Chinese influencers generate organic content related to their sector endorsed by the brands. They have strong opinions and voices to propagate through their followers’ community and successfully utilize them to promote brands.
It is essential to understand that the Chinese influencer social market is different from the global one regarding China’s ‘Great Firewall.’ China is presently the world’s most prominent social media market, with 1 billion social networks in 2021 and expected to grow by 1.28 billion by 2026. Global social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are blocked in China.
However, the new influencer economy of China has a significant number of mobile-savvy users. It has its social networking platforms that are highly successful in influencing and engaging users. Influencers utilize these platforms to place their products and services in conversations with users without making them feel it is too promotional.
It is imperative for a brand to thoroughly understand and make wise decisions in finding the right influencer for them and how to utilize them. Lately, influencer marketing in China has reached a new level by introducing virtual influencers on social media. The creators have innovatively developed virtual characters to connect with the consumers through a broad and complex social media web.
This article will explain influencer marketing in China in a detailed manner.
Why Work With Chinese Influencers?
In today’s digital era, reaching out to your large pool of customers is difficult without partnering with social media influencers. Presently social networks have a penetration rate of 74%, and on average, Chinese internet users spent 5.15 hours per day using the internet as of the third quarter of 2021.
It shows how important it is for businesses to reap the benefits of influencer marketing in China to grow their business.
Benefits of Chinese social media influencers
The most important benefits of using Chinese influencers are summarized below:
There is a tremendous opportunity for the Chinese influencers to increase their reach to their followers through appealing and exciting influence. These influencers can help brands multiply their visibility by getting engaged with them for the promotion.
One thing is evident in the case of consumer behavior. The trust factor that peers develop in their minds is way more substantial than developed by brand advertisements. The vital credibility factor of influencers in consumers’ minds grows because they consider them a trustworthy source of information. Working with Chinese influencers will always help the brands win customer loyalty.
Leads & Sales
Influencers have a solid power to convince and inspire the consumer to have a quick purchasing decision and execute it. Just because their favorite KOL recommends a product, the Chinese consumer doesn’t seek any further details to decide and immediately makes up his mind to buy that product, delivering strong sales results.
Recommended Industries For Influencer Marketing:
Influencer marketing in China has proven benefits to almost all industries, from small to large businesses. But a few industries are harnessing its advantages to the extent that they reflect significantly. A few of them are:
Travel & Lifestyle
Influencer marketing has completely changed people’s choices in the travel and lifestyle industry. People are now highly inspired by the content influencers post about their travel, properties, places, experiences, and products and make similar decisions and plans.
Fashion & Beauty Products
This industry is probably the best match one it comes to influencer marketing. Influencers from diverse backgrounds like fashion models, celebrities, stylists, artists, bloggers, and magazines directly create an impulsive influence on the viewer’s mind and inspire their purchases. From clothes to cosmetic products and accessories like jewelry, footwear, bags, and watches, consumers get highly motivated by seeing the influencers using them. Thus they make decisions to buy them.
Food & Beverage
Influencers collaborate with restaurants, cafes, and Chinese food brands and share their experiences to promote their products and services. Their followers on social media get tempted to experience the same as they trust these influencers and believe it will be worth trying.
Entertainment & Media
This vast industry includes singers, musicians, dancers, actors, gamers, comedians, reviewers, and many more. Influencers join with them to promote their products and brands through influential marketing. It helps in boosting sales and visibility among consumers.
This industry utilizes the power of influencer marketing by partnering with professionals who have transformed themselves in health, bodybuilding, and mental wellness. They have a solid online image and story to share with the public. The brands collaborate with them and use them to promote their products and services as followers look forward to implementing the same on themselves.
The Growing Importance of Influencer Marketing in China
Chinese influencer marketing is growing steadfastly and has become integral to almost all industries. We can see its growth through the following few key stats:
- Influencer marketing in China, which was more than 100 billion yuan in 2021, is expected to reach almost seven trillion yuan by 2025.
- According to 67 percent of surveyed advertisers in 2021, KOL promotion is their company’s primary social marketing strategy.
- In a survey in March 2022, two-thirds of participants mentioned purchasing the endorsed product because of the influence of the KOLs.
- In May 2020, the average conversion rate of influencers in China crossed 11.1 percent, 3 percent more than in January 2020.
- A top-tier KOL (with more than one million followers) could generate 1.2 million impressions on Douyin (short video app) in China as of June 2021.
- The virtual influencer market in China reached 6.2 billion yuan in 2021 and is expected to cross 333 billion yuan by 2023 with 77 percent year-on-year growth.
- In 2021, top luxury fashion brands invested more than 181 million US dollars in influencer marketing in China through mega influencers (with 500k to 2 million followers).
- A survey conducted in China in March 2022 shows that Zhongcao influenced the respondents’ purchases. It is a Chinese term meaning ‘planting grass’ and is used to describe the effect of a recommendation-based marketing strategy ‘to plant a seed in one’s mind.’
Types Of Chinese Influencers
Now, as we have discussed so much about the Chinese influencers, it is crucial to understand if they are all simply the same or is there any difference between them.
Let’s explore them one by one:
WangHong, in simple words, translates to internet celebrity. These professionals use their fame and fandom to influence consumers to buy certain products and services they endorse. They post stylish content like photos and videos online, sharing their personal experience using them.
WangHong typically has an impressive, eye-catching appearance. They mainly endorse very high-quality products and services because they have a very loyal followership, and the actions of these WangHongs dramatically impact them. They act as the brand ambassador for these companies while promoting them. It is worth noting that WangHongs are not generally the content experts.
As per the estimations, the WangHong economy will reach 15 billion US dollars by 2022. Another research report says that nearly 86 percent of WangHong in China are young females.
Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)
They are Chinese social media influencers who have a robust online presence on social media. They are generally socialites, content creators, bloggers, writers, and columnists who have built a large community of followers.
They work with brands for their marketing campaigns and remain up to date with all the new updates and developments in the digital world to stay competitive. They provide their opinions on points of view, estimations, beliefs, judgments, and attitudes through social media to recommend products and services.
They are well regarded and have high credibility, making them perfect for the influential marketing strategy.
As per research in March 2022, 66.6 percent of participants revealed that the style of the KOLs influenced their purchasing decision for the endorsed product. KOL endorsement was the most preferred marketing method among Chinese consumers, as per research conducted in April 2022.
Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs)
These are the real consumers who have expertise over their subject matter and greatly influence their followers by using the products and services and then giving honest opinions about them.
They are a valuable asset in marketing because they have developed a strong trust for their recommendations among their followers. Their content is highly reliable; hence, they play a significant role in consumers’ decision-making despite relatively small followership.
KOCs can help a brand increase awareness, spread the content, and engage with potential consumers.
How To Work With Chinese Influencers?
In the global scenario, there is no doubt that China is the only country where the markets rely the most on influencers and celebrities. The cut-throat competition and demanding Chinese consumers are pushing the brands to innovate their marketing strategies at an unprecedented speed.
Now considering the cultural complexity and variety of platforms, the question is how a brand can decide and collaborate with the right influencer to bring them the highest ROI. Let’s discuss it in detail.
Think about your brand image, needs, and campaign objective. You should be clear about who your audience is, your brand voice, personality, and image, and what qualities your brand wants to associate with. These points will give you core objectives.
Decide your goals. They might boost sales, increase followers, create engagement, drive brand awareness, or increase website traffic.
Consider which Chinese social media platform to choose concerning the industry, audience, and average product price. For a brand that has a young and fun-seeking target audience with a low unit price, Douyin or Bilibili can be the best platform. If you have a broad potential audience, you might start with WeChat.
After that, you will have to consider the type of influencer personas available, their pros and cons, quantitative analysis of their average reach, engagement per post, and influencer content analysis of what they focus on when they talk about the brand. After analyzing some influencer posts, you can finalize the influencer based on their influence and engagement.
As a new brand in the Chinese market, you’ll have to consider factors like your budget to have multiple mid-tier influencers and long-tail KOLs to build awareness and volume among your Chinese audience.
For brands already having visibility in China, it is recommended to tie up with a more prominent influencer to increase awareness. Consider the popularity of the influencer and choose the one that matches your brand identity.
What Is The Cost Of Working With a Chinese influencer?
The cost of working with a Chinese influencer can vary from a few dollars to thousands of dollars depending upon multiple aspects like actions to be taken by the influencer, their reputation, and the number of followers. If your requirements are more extensive and demand more effort from the influencer, the cost will go up. Some influencers enjoy the product and services from the brand and, in return, do the promotion. So, costing is a very dynamic consideration depending upon your expectations from the influencer as per your brand’s marketing plans.
Different ways to work with the influencers:
Brands can do influencer marketing in China in various ways like:
KOLs can share various types of content like photos, videos, blogs, live streams, or banner ads on their account. It is usually less expensive, and brands can use more KOLs for more visibility.
Give away & Contests
Brands can engage with their consumers using their products through giveaway campaigns by KOLs promoting them. The KOL followers community engages quickly and actively through such campaigns. They are excellent attention grabbers and enhance brand credibility.
A brand can engage a KOL to write a review of their product/service in the form of an article, a paragraph, or a short video, to reach their followers extensively.
Product and Content Collaborations
Some brands co-create products or content with influencers where they promote it among their followers.
Long-term Brand Ambassadors
A long-term brand ambassador is an influencer that collaborates with the brand for an extended period so that consumers can identify the brand with that influencer. It happens mostly with celebrities and results in more trust, credibility, and authenticity in the mind of followers.
‘Takeovers’ on Your Platforms
In this influencer marketing strategy, the influencer shows up on the brand’s social media platform, takes over for a limited period, usually a day, and creates fun behind-the-scenes, day-in-the-life-of posts, videos, and stories to keep the audience engaged.
Top Chinese Influencers To Know About
Recently, Chinese influencers have acquired consumers’ trust and have developed many followers in various industries. Some top influencers are:
Tao Liang, also known as Mrbag, is among the most popular Chinese influencers. He specializes in bags with more than 5 million followers on weibo and 800k on WeChat, and his new releases sell out in minutes.
Liu Genghong, also known as Will Liu, is a Taiwanese musician and actor famous for his roles in dramas, films, and music albums. He is also a fitness specialist and live-streams his training regimens from his home.
Li Jiaqi is China’s top lipstick seller, also known as the ‘King of Lipstick. With 40 million followers on Douyin, he is one of the most popular Chinese KOLs.
He is a viral fashion critic and vlogger from China who has collaborated with top fashion brands like Prada and Jo Malone.
She is a famous Chinese celebrity with more than 30 million followers on Weibo. She is a drama graduate and appears on well-known Chinese talk shows.
She is a famous Chinese fashion influencer who has immense knowledge of fashion and easily kicks off influencer trend that is not widespread.
She is a style icon known for her sophisticated approach to fashion. She has worked with luxury brands such as Prada and Burberry.
She is a famous Chinese influencer with nearly 19 million followers on her Taobao account. She live-streams product reviews and promotions.
She is a cosmetic product reviewer and provides content like daily vlogs and blogs, unboxing videos, and recommendations and reviews of cosmetic products. She has collaborated with top brands like MAC and Burberry.
She is a professional film writer and one of China’s famous fashion bloggers and influencers who has worked with over 300 brands, including Chanel.
So, this was all about a few famous Chinese influencers. There are a large number of other Chinese influencers creating organic influence in the Chinese market. Here, we are concluding that the Chinese influencer sector has a lot of potentials to take businesses to new heights.
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