China’s Key Opinion Leaders: The Rise Of The KOL Kraze. 中国时尚和生活方式的关键意见领袖.

Even in this day and age, having and expressing a strong opinion, and consequently standing out slash becoming a tall tree catching much wind, often comes at a cost. Some people may call you names, others may stop calling you altogether. All hail The Drama. Adamant and conceited, let alone bigoted, are very different things — in my book, that is. The third degree demands: In the end… Does it pay off to be opinionated?

Please note that the article cited in this post was originally written by Shanghai-based Chloe Reuter of Reuter Communications for The Huffington Post (July 28, 2016)

 

Key Opinion Leaders, the Chinese fashion experts, have thousands (or millions, even) of followers across Chinese social media platforms and have the power to awaken their follower’s desire simply by posting photos or promotional posts.

Key Opinion Leader (KOLs) are “the experts in their field upon whom we depend for original research leading to disease understanding and new therapies”. Thank you, Oxford. Replace the medicinal terms by fashionable ones (“market understanding” and “new strategies”) and we have Vogue lift-off. Han Huohuo, Karena, Peter Wu, Susie Bubble aka Susanna Lau (as seen in the Featured Image) and ueber-popular fashion blogger Frankie Han are just a few names among China’s opinionated hard hitters. Fashion brands trying to promote their brand using KOLs with fewer followers — as these often resonate better with their following and take the time to actually reply to their followers — turn to the likes of food and fashion blogger Meijia S

China’s KOLs have the power to influence their significant followings’ buying patterns and choices by simply posting photos on their social medias accounts. Many homemade fashion and several international luxury brands already collaborate with them to increase visibility and/or brand awareness. Most commonly they ask the KOLs to attend events, take a snapshot with the products and post the “I just got this Vuitton key chain!!! LOVE!!!” happy faces across their social media walls. Unlike bloggers in the West, the larger number of Chinese KOLs have established their presence on China’s social media networks such as Sina Weibo and WeChat, only few of them maintain an actual blog.

They’re hot, they’re hip, they’re happening and brands are dying to get their products onto those bodies and subsequently seared into the brains of modish minions across the land.

Many a Chinese consumer religiously checks their social media to obtain some swift style advice and a snoop at what’s happening in Trendy Land. Most of these commandments hail from, you guessed it, the KOLs aka China’s fashion experts. With their legions of followers, their photos and promos can shake fashionista/-o splurging desires everywhere to the core; a garment or accessory posted on a KOL account is often sold out within the timespan of any Taylor Swift “relationship” (for those who do not faithfully read the Daily Mail gossip, this simply means “swift” — oh my, I do crack myself up).

 

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In sum, saying that the KOLs are “in demand” would be an understatement. They’re hot, they’re hip, they’re happening and brands are dying to get their products onto those tiny bodies and subsequently seared into the brains of modish minions everywhere. On your travels through the China KOL landscape, you might need a Lonely Planet. And thus The Huffington Post chimes in as Chloe Reuter shares with readers five tips for navigating China’s KOL kraze: 

1. Ask the important questions

Before doing anything, the key is first to ask yourself a few questions: what is the objective of engaging a KOL? What would success look like? Are you looking for brand awareness, for sales, or even for a change in positioning? Any brand should tread carefully with KOLs, not just luxury brands. Consider the fact that many top KOLs will endorse a different brand each day of the week – do we really believe that their followers will flock to stores and purchase as a result? In the luxury space a lot of consumers are very savvy. They observe and follow KOLs but will also rely on friends and media for information and advice.

2. Choose the right KOLs

This is the trickiest part and there is no magic solution. For luxury brands, the big KOLs will bring quick awareness, but sometimes the most interesting KOLs are the credible ones, the not just “famous for being famous” ones. Brands need to choose KOLs that are knowledgeable and respected for working with the best in class. This way they can attract loyal customers for the brand, and their posts are more credible than the KOLs who post about 20 different brands every week.

3. Build meaningful relationships 

Perhaps most important is for luxury brands to develop real relationships with their preferred KOLs, in the same way that they would with official brand ambassadors. Take time to meet them, connect with them, and educate them about the brand. Make them fall in love with it. Look at your relationship as a long term one rather than a “one online post” one.

 

To read all five instructions on how to safely enter and exit Chinese KOL territory, please visit HuffPo right here! From Kartrashians to KOLs… This is indeed one krazy universe we live in. One in which being opinionated certainly pays off.

 

Photos: The Huffington Post.