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2023 China KOL Marketing White Paper

Miaozhen System and China Advertising Association have jointly published the “2023 KOL Marketing White Paper”, which lists the 6 major trends of KOL marketing and 6 major practical guidelines of KOL marketing in 2023. Below is an overview of the key points compiled in the report.

China’s social marketing continues to rise in 2022, which means there is great potential for emerging advertisers to increase their investment, especially for emerging advertisers/brand owners who will increase their social marketing budgets by up to 81% in 2023, up 2% from last year. KOL marketing has become the main focus of brand marketing, with a share of up to 66%. Nowadays, KOL marketing is the top priority of brand marketing and product longing is still the core appeal, but the purpose of KOL marketing in China is no longer limited to just that. Brands are looking forward to becoming more diverse and helping to expand the overall marketing connection. Advertisers have three main goals for KOL marketing in 2023: product cultivation (74%), brand communication (65%) and conversion (64%)

The evaluation indicators for KOL brand marketing activities are dissemination power (achieving awareness), merchandise promotion (driving sales) and product cultivation (strengthening brand recall), while brand marketing activities offer different appeals.

  • Audience expansion: fan appeal, dissemination power

  • Brand recall: content influence, dissemination power

  • Thematic node detonation: dissemination power, fan appeal, and product promotion power

  • New product promotion: dissemination power, power of product promotion

  • Long-term conversion: fan appeal, content influence, dissemination power

The differentiated positioning and focus of Chinese platforms have led to different user structures. Therefore, multi-site development and multi-platform collaboration have become the latest trends and diversified drainage while achieving joint success can promote brand growth.

Comparing the differences between each platform

  • WeChat: social acquisition platform, spontaneous dissemination of major events, and viral swiping of moments

  • Kuaishou: Responding to people as a platform, inclusive mechanism, trustworthy e-commerce, strong repurchase rate

  • Douyin: Super large traffic pool, efficient streaming delivery, fast conversion of low customer orders

  • Weibo: A public entertainment venue, a national exposure engine, and a hot search across the country

  • Bilibili: A platform for young people, UP content creator mainly focuses on in-depth content and immersive impact cognition

  • Xiaohongshu: Trend leader, KOC co-creates and explores new tracks to seize the mind

In terms of user structure, female users are far more prevalent on Xiaohongshu and Weibo than on other platforms; WeChat has more middle-aged and older users, while young users are more active on Bilibili and Xiaohongshu; Kuaishou’s user distribution is more inclined to the lower-tier market, while Weibo and Douyin users are more distributed in first- and second-tier cities.

The figure shows the brands' goals for using KOLs on major social media platforms. Among them, Douyin and Kuaishou have a global marketing mentality, WeChat and Weibo consider brand exposure as their biggest advantage; Xiaohongshu and Bilibili are quite effective in product cultivation.

The following are the user magnitude, characteristics and industry characteristics of major Chinese platforms. Overall, users focusing on the beauty and food and beverage industries account for the largest proportion.

  • Weibo (national social platform)

MAU: 580 million

User profile: More female users, younger users, and more users from top-tier cities

Industry profile: Industry bias is not strong

  • Douyin (national traffic stage)

MAU: 700 million

User profile: Balanced ratio of male and female users, the balanced age distribution of users, and many users in top-tier cities

Industry profile: Compared to other platforms, users from the automotive industry make up a significant proportion

  • Kuaishou (hinterland of trust culture)

MAU: 600 million

User profile: Balanced ratio of male and female users, the balanced age distribution of users, and a high proportion of users in lower-tier cities

Industry profile: Industry bias is not strong

  • Bilibili (a product-longing community for young people)

MAU: 310 million

User profile: Balanced male and female users, with the highest proportion of young users and more users in lower-tier cities

Industry profile: Compared to other platforms, users of smart consumer electronics account for a significant proportion

  • Xiaohongshu ( a gathering place for female characters)

MAU: 200 million

User profile: “she” attribute is significant, and there are more users in top-tier cities

Industry profile: Compared with other platforms, users of beauty makeup and mothers and babies account for a significant proportion

Compared to 2021, the overall number of KOLs in 2022 has increased by 14%, of which KOCs accounted for the largest proportion (76%). Among the numerous platforms, Xiaohongshu has become the platform with the highest proportion of KOCs, accounting for 81%. China’s overall digital human influence market is growing steadily, but virtual KOLs have grown significantly too with a YoY increase of 292%.

Two pain points faced by KOL marketing

1. Content uncertainty: how to filter out influencers that fit your brand to create high-quality content

2. Uncertainty in spreading impact: how to expand influencer outreach and brand collaboration to attract accurate traffic with high-quality content across the board and convert it into actual sales

Brand KOL selection method

  • Measure the CPE of the talent

  • Measure the KOL impact according to business and industry benchmarks provided by major platforms

  • Accurate content labelling

  • Intelligent talent selection

In addition, cross-borders and circle-breaking is inevitably good way to break through the predicament, and diversifying content can drive traffic. To ensure long-term marketing, it is imperative to integrate talent and brand accounts and create a matrix for influencer self-broadcasting

Other ways to drive brand marketing effectiveness

  • Screen dominance rate SDR - Closely related to e-commerce conversion - According to the comparison of 11-11 e-commerce data in the same period, Xiaohongshu’s search scene highly overlaps with the top 10 brands in the Tmall beauty category, with a ratio of up to 70% - Content marketing effectiveness evaluation and adult placement decisions can be carried out as needed

  • Social ROI cross-domain longing attribution - It can scientifically evaluate the conversion efficiency of KOL’s product-longing posts on e-commerce post-links, and quickly find high-quality longing stickers for agile promotion

  • Segment consumers based on demographic attributes (gender, age, etc.), demographic insights (based on customers’ expressions on social media), and interest groups. Then, the index data is used according to the labels of different groups of people or customized topics, to find influential KOLs within the circle or topic, and realize the radiation of different circles and consolidation of the brand image among topics

“Alternative KOL: Virtual Human”

With the progress of time, the commercial value of virtual humans has soared rapidly, and they have also gained a share in the Chinese marketing circle. According to the Miaozhen Mingjian system, the volume of virtual humans has increased by 292% compared with last year. Weibo and Bilibili are the main platforms for the development of virtual humans, accounting for nearly 70%, with rates of 31% and 28% respectively. Currently, the virtual human class is mainly concentrated in the major platforms' lower- and middle-tier (T4 & T5). As for the direction of cooperation, in addition to brand marketing in various industries, virtual humans also participate in social responsibility marketing (e.g., public welfare activities) and public services (e.g., promoting traditional Chinese culture).

Top 10 virtual humans with the most commercial value

  • Little monk

  • Liu Yexi

  • Tianyu

  • Love and producer

  • Yishiqi

  • AzA

  • Luo Tianyi

  • A-Soul Eileen


  • A-Soul Diana

In addition, Miaozhen launched the “Virtual Human Business Value Evaluation Model”, which objectively evaluates the commercial value of virtual humans based on the three dimensions of attractiveness, activity, and business practice, and combines it with Miaozhen’s algorithm model to facilitate the selection of virtual KOLs that fit the brands.

In summary, KOLs are the primary brand marketing method in the Chinese market. Therefore, the selection of marketing platforms and KOLs is significant. It is necessary to accurately locate the target group while aligning with the brand image. In addition, virtual KOLs are also a modern marketing trend.

If you would like to learn more about the China KOL marketing report, please contact us! For the full report click here to download it.

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