The US equivalent of Instagram influencers in China are called Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs): prominent fashion and beauty figures who dominate China’s popular Weibo and WeChat platforms. Jing Daily reports that despite China’s evolving KOL landscape, luxury brands continue to utilize familiar KOL faces for major product campaigns, and opt to use lesser-known KOLs for product launches and fashion shows.
However, as China’s social media landscape grows more saturated, Jing Daily highlights two possible downsides to the strategy of only using famous KOLs: 1) Brands may not be able to establish authentic connections with the younger generations, and 2) The potential trouble of preserving a sense of product exclusivity if the KOLs they work with are overexposed on SM.
Jing Daily spoke with industry insiders about the trendy influencers that exist outside the mainstream SM sphere. “These KOLs aren’t always working directly with brands, but are managing to maintain a substantive connection with followers in a sea of competition,” Jing Daily writes. Below is a compilation of the different types of lesser-known influencers with a strong presence:
The former fashion editor — More and more KOLs are becoming commercial, making it difficult to gauge the products they push on their platforms. Therefore, it all comes down to voice, and KOLs capturing the attention of Chinese fashionistas are former editors and writers who produce non-commercial SM content.
The media personality — In China, it is crucial for global luxury brands to form relationships with reporters and TV hosts who relay products to large audiences. These media personalities have massive followings outside of their formal job titles, and the ones who stand out are curating authentic content and engaging in non-commercial ways.
The wealthy socialite — Similar to the Kardashians, the “it” boys and girls of China gain a steady online following that centers on their glitzy, globetrotting lifestyles.
The overseas KOL — Because more Chinese consumers are traveling and studying abroad, the list of influencers to watch extends to those living or working outside the country. “Some big names in China’s KOL world got their start outside of the country,” says Jing Daily.
To read more about the lesser-known Chinese KOLs making waves, go to Jing Daily.
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