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2022 State of Play & New Strategies – China KOL Marketing

In 2022, the number of mobile internet users in China has increased, and the number of monthly active users of the leading media platforms including long and short videos, social media, and e-commerce platforms has stagnated. Consumers are more distracted, they follow their interests to search for content, and at the same time have higher requirements for content quality, the most common channel is content sharing by KOLs/bloggers on the platform. At present, the rapid development of the KOL economy has become the marketing focus for most advertisers. However, marketing will become more difficult with implementing and tightening of various regulatory measures. GroupM has partnered with Miaozhen to launch “2022 Brand and KOL Twin Insights”. Below is an excerpt from the report.

The main forms of KOL marketing and advertising characteristic

KOL marketing mainly uses “people” as the medium and employs trust to influence the minds of the audience. Its advertising features include:

  • Richer creative themes

  • More diverse forms of expression

  • The scene is more lifelike

The main media are short video platforms, vertical content communities, information platforms, e-commerce platforms, etc. KOL marketing can mainly attract consumers’ attention, and its acceptance is relatively high. It can achieve the goal of attracting consumer interest, social interaction and active comparison, and then further work towards the goal of exposure and conversion.

KOLs have become the marketing focus of most advertisers, and the proportion of the number of KOLs at the top of the market has increased significantly, which shows that the KOL economy is developing rapidly. The expected growth rate of up to 43% of the market size in 2022 is directly related to the KOL economy. Compared with 2021, as high as 67% of advertisers will focus on TOP 1 KOL advertising readiness in 2022, and the proportion of nano KOL (KOC) will increase by 5.5% compared with 2020.

The characteristics of different industries and platforms for KOL marketing

The main objectives and scenarios of marketing have different preferences for different industries, as follows:

  • Cars, luxury goods, mothers and babies – the main objective is to increase the consumer’s awareness and adapt to marketing scenarios for new product launches

  • Beauty & personal care, shoes & bags, food & beverages, 3C and home appliances – the goal is to focus on traffic while driving conversions, the main scenarios are e-commerce promotions and new product launches

  • Gaming, internet, finance – achieve the goal of improving performance conversion through the scenario of product promotion

The TOP3 KOL marketing investment amounts that have changed across industries in 2021 compared to 2020 are games and animation (381%), internet (208%) and home appliances (191%).

(Data source: Weiboyi)

KOLs on different platforms also have different methods to gather people, express content and product longing methods, for example:

  • Douyin: Skewed towards entertainment attributes and users’ interest-oriented traffic distribution, suitable for dynamically displaying product selling points with details to achieve consumers’ rapid longing. Suitable for product categories such as Beauty & Personal Care, Food & Beverage, Sports, 3C and Automotive.

  • Bilibili: Based on circle/professional attributes, using creative content to target young consumers, suitable for product longing with the combination of circle DNA. Product categories include Gaming, Food & Beverage, 3C, Beauty & Personal Care and Pets

  • Xiaohongshu: A tool/strategy attribute, and it distributes traffic through user interaction, most of which is shared from mid-low tier KOL to do product sharing, which in turn influences consumers' desire to buy. Product categories include Beauty and Personal Care, Luxury Goods, Food & Beverage, Health & Wellness, Pets and Travel.

KOL marketing and target customization strategy

Brands need to formulate different KOL marketing strategies according to their marketing objectives, and KOLs at different levels have different interaction and conversion effects with the brand. If the brand marketing aims to increase exposure to achieve widespread longing, T1 star KOL and T2 macro-KOL are more suitable. If the marketing goal is to increase sales, the brand will move to T2 macro and T3 mid-tier KOL. In addition, when evaluating KOLs, brands need to take into consideration the ability to promote e-commerce goods and the power of social communication to formulate KOL strategies.

User statistics and characteristics of each platform:

  • Weibo (national social platform): 570 million MAU, more female and younger users with more users in lower-tier cities

  • Douyin (national traffic stage): 650 million MAU, more male users and younger, more users in upper-tier cities

  • Kuaishou (dude economic hinterland): 520 million MAU, more and younger male users, more users in lower-tier cities

  • Bilibili (young product longing community): 220 million MAU, with many male users and the highest proportion of young users, with more users in upper-tier cities

  • Xiaohongshu (a gathering place for high-quality women): 120 million MAU, with a significant “she” attribute, a significant proportion of young users, and more users in upper-tier cities

  • WeChat Video Account: 450 million DAU, more male users, and more users in lower-tier cities

  • Baidu (an established search platform): 620 million MAU, many male and mature users

The main customization strategy can be selected according to the different platforms and advertising needs and the selected KOLs based on a comprehensive consideration of the different scenarios and objectives. For example, communication KOLs are suitable for plot/imagination and implanting brand through interesting content to expand publicity and increase awareness; KOLs with goods promotion capability are suitable for highlighting product features and evaluating products to increase consumers' purchase intention; celebrity KOLs tend to amplify the same style of celebrities to attract visitors and drive traffic to e-commerce to improve conversion. Compared with the stars KOL, the nano KOL (also known as KOC) has better ROI performance in the vertical circle, which helps to reduce advertising costs and improve efficiency.

A quick guide to KOL marketing strategies for brands

  1. Exposure and awareness: With a low CPM/CPE as the goal, to improve product awareness and dissemination, choose star KOLs from the pan-entertainment to promote wide reach and dissemination, and later match with mid-tier KOLs for product longing to increase consumer interest and purchase intention

  2. Activation and product longing: According to the needs of different segments of the population, many micro and nano KOLs are selected to drive product longing in depth in the vertical circle layer to ensure sustainable ROI. At the same time, SEM & SEO are combined to optimize search ranking in the long run

  3. Sales conversion: Select a small number of star KOLs to build momentum during the warm-up phase of e-commerce promotion, redirect the e-commerce prepayment products to grow e-commerce and brand private traffic, and then use many micros and nano KOLs to implement promotional information for each circle, and cooperate with live broadcasting to promote goods for e-commerce

If you are interested in KOL marketing, please feel free to contact us for more information. For the full report, click here to download it.

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