Fashion is for KOLs ?

 

Event

Seminar: KOL Marketing @ Christine Tsui International Fashion

Date: 13 March 2018

Seminar Host: Heather-Wuhan-AGL; Alena-Shanghai-AGL

 

Outline

  1. INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND
  2. ADOPTION AS A MKTTOOL
  3. PROS&CONS

 

Part One: INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

KOL, or s so called “Key Opinion Leader”, refers to a person with a significant influence on people. In China, it can be a famous or just a regular person with large-huge fan base. The term KOL has been used in the marketing field, however, in our seminar we use this term as a reference to Chinese KOLs, whereas those in the West will only be called as “influencers”.

KOLs in China are mostly active on different social media platforms, such as Weibo, Bilibili, Wechat and many others. As seen bellow, the KOL was compared to the Chinese words “wang hong” that seems to have a very negative connotation in the Chinese language, which is mostly linked to gossiping.

The very first KOL in Chine appeared in 1988. Taiwanese writer Pi zi Cai became the first Chinese internet celebrity with his online romance novel “The First Intimate Touch”. Since then, as the internet and techniques developed, more apps and platforms have sprung up, bringing huge opportunities and more exposure for this group.

In a nutshell, no matter KOL or influencer, their role is essentially the same — They both collaborate with brands in term of product promotion and trigger the interest of their audience in desirable direction.


 

The concept of KOL

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

At start, let me ask you the first question: Has everyone in here heard about the concept of KOLs or网红?

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

Someone very popular online and has both social and commercial value. What’s KOL in your opinion?

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

KOL is an influencer. For consumer, is influencer blogger. But B2B influencers are called thought leaders. The term is being used quite loosely.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Yes,very good. KOL,in other words:Key Opinion Leader.

 

Hangzhou-Jessie-co-founder

KOL means Key Opinion Leader.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Also, just to be sure. When we are talking about KOLs, in particular, we are referring to those in the Chinese market. Otherwise you also could have heard the term”influencer”as it was mentioned, but about that later.

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

KOL is a term used worldwide, not just in China.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

It is, but it refers mainly to China. I would say that in the “West”, they are referred mostly as solely ”influencers”.

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

KOL is a term used in advertising and PR for quite sometime.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Ok, so to be more accurate. As we will be talking about the Chinese market. Let’s refer to them as wanghongs.

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

For me, wanghong is a bit negative, sorry. For the bias.

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

Influence’s are more precise in defining the role. Influencers, influence people.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Why so?@Natalie~Xiamen~Analyst.

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

@Alena-Shanghai-AGL~Shanghai~AGL Natalie’s comment actually is a reason why KOL all changed names into influencers.

 

Grace-Shanghai-Media

Because people have certain negative impressions about them@Alena-Shanghai-AGL.

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

Bias is hard to explain; and maybe because the word wanghong often appears in gossip etc.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Oh,I had no idea. How are these KOLs addressed in this case in China?As KOLs, influencers?

 

Grace-Shanghai-Media

KOL and influencers are more inclusive and precise, as many of the influencers are not only active online but also in real life.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Oh, I see.  When did they appear?

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

So anyway, Does anyone know how and when did they “appear”?

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

The whole concept of, first online, influencers appeared?

 

Grace-Shanghai-Media

I guess in China, it has something to do with Weibo.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Because I guess, once you are not a publicly known celebrity, you gotta start on the internet.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Maybe few years ago, people start call those girls“IT girl”?

 

Grace-Shanghai-Media

Like the Chinese version of twitter.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Good guess.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

@Grace_Shanghai_media That’s one of their platforms.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Actually the very first one, that could be called an”influence”started in 1998.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Taiwanese writer Pi zi Cai became the first Chinese internet celebrity with his online romance novel“The First Intimate Touch”.

 

Grace-Shanghai-Media

Haha, I know that one, Pi zi Cai.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

He actually got himself a nerdy audience of wanghong, or“networms”, which the term wanghong later was supposed to be created from:).

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Sorry for using  this term again, just for the sake of explaining. I agree 100%, and done without the internet. Of course with the time, the internet speed , our personal electronic devices and their cameras improved and the internet created a haven for beauty, fashion, lifestyle bloggers. And of course, people started posting and sharing pictures.

 

Part Two: ADOPTION AS A MKT TOOL

There are many ways of how KOLs/influencer can collaborate with brands. It could be compared to a pyramid of channels: brand ambassador, brand spokesman/woman, product spokesman/woman or regional ambassador.

Either way or another, the collaboration is mostly product-oriented. KOLs/ influencers are responsible for product promotion, such as garments, make-up, handbags in either very apparent way or in a very casual manner, such as randomly sharing their daily life photos with occasional showcase of the product.

As for the effectiveness of such collaboration, some are successful while some are not.

For example, some celebrities, such as Xu Weizhou, known as one of the popular pretty boys or China’s “little fresh meat”, ranking No.1 for social influence, is ranked first among the bottom 10 in term of commercial value. In other words, his influence or number of social media followers in not translated into sales, and therefore may not seem as a good investment from the brands’ perspective.

 

Therefore, it’s necessary for brands to do a little bit of a marketing research and investigation before choosing suitable KOL. Understanding their fans values, and being clear about their consumption capacity and preference are the most important factors brands should understand.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

I believe many of you have seen those people online,very very frequently.

无自动替代文字可用。

Source: 1’H 2017 Bomoda China Key Opinion Leader Index Reports

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

Where is the source for this list?

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

Oh yeah.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

It’s a new study by Bomoda, a NY-based consumer intelligence company.@Natalie~Xiamen~Analyst

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

From are port that looks at effectiveness of thoseKOLs throughtwolenses: social influence and commercial influence.

 

Julie-Shanghai-High-end retail

To me, they are more‘ star’ rather than KOL in china. I will say Chinese KOLs like Zhang dayi , Gogoboi, Freshboy, Rebecca…etc.

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

Yes.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Yes.

 

Julie-Shanghai-High-end retail

But in terms of a ‘influencer’, maybe they can be classified in the same category?

 

Grace-Shanghai-Media

Agreed.

 

Oran-Shanghai-Merchandiser

This list shows much ads companies invest to those people.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Where I work, the marketing department refers to”celebrities”and”KOLs” but at the end of the day, the result should be similar.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

They are all adopted as MKT tool by brands. Many brands are collaborating with them by using their media exposure.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Yes.

 

Julie-Shanghai-High-end retail

Take the example of an bingbing on小红书,she is a KOL there.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

@Julie-Shanghai-High-end retail~Shanghai~High-endretail Yes!Haha.

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

I should say the difference shall be based on whether they have company or group to build their image to become KOL.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

How many of you know the ways of collaboration between KOLs and brands?

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Brands’ ambassadors. Angelababy for Dior or UGG.

 

Julie-Shanghai-High-end retail

I have a good article on this issue to share but it’s in Chinese…

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

Yes,those are very apparent ways@Alena-Shanghai-AGL~Shanghai~AGL

 

Julie-Shanghai-High-end retail

It explains the difference between brand ambassador, brand friend..etc.

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

Gogoboi and Mr.bag, Their commercial collaborations are successful.

 

Oran-Shanghai-Merchandiser

I think the brands are trying to catch the fans behind the KOL.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

Exactly.

 

Vanessa-GZ-couture

Collaboration between KOLs and brands start from bloggers in west, first like models.

 

Julie-Shanghai-High-end retail

I’ll translate  some key points. Pyramid of channels: brand ambassador, brand spokesman (spoke woman), product spokesman (spokeswoman), regional ambassador, regional certain line ambassador. And also brand friend, brand muse…etc. Their levels are different.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

I know that most of time brands send their products to KOLs, they post pictures. Sometimes KOLs get a special link, that will provide their commission according to the sell.

 

Vanessa-GZ-couture

They share their”daily style”makeup things….somehow actually from the brand.

 

Yohanna-GuangZhou-Student

Like some YouTubers who update their makeup videos, lots of brands will send their products to them.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

Yes!As far as i know,Brands often expect more from collaboration with KOLs. They not only wish to expand their exposure by KOL’s attendance in many social activities like fashion show, but wish them to keep promoting their products in their daily lives.

 

Vanessa-GZ-couture

Maybe at the first they really shared daily style, but after were business.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

Possible. Because that feels very genuine.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

The KOLs receive a product from a company and then they decide whether to share it?

 

Oran-Shanghai-Merchandiser

That’s true! Soft tender ads all from daily life post chicken soup articles.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Something like that.

 

Vincent–Shanghai-Incubator

Ha ha ha, Chicken soup articles, ha ha.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

Is there money payment?

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

And sometimes small company will offer KOLs a discount. I mean if you have a lot of fans, sure. But if you are more local, they will offer the discount.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

So any way,  their collaborations are mainly product-oriented.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Yes,I think so.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

Do you think those ways are really efficient?

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Oh yeah, it works.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

And let me post another pic ha ha.

图片中可能有:3 位用户

Source: 1’H 2017 Bomoda China Key Opinion Leader Index Reports

 

 Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Wow, that’s hurtful.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

Those stars are very popular, But they’re ranked as bottom 10 in terms of MKT impact. Why?

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

Not agreed with Xuweizhou and Liuyifei.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

I mean it hurts their personal feelings…

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Yeah, me too. I thought Xuweizhou are doing good, but maybe his fans are not translated to sales.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

Yep!

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

At the opposite end of the spectrum are celebrities such as XuWeizhou. Known as one of the popular pretty boys or China’s“little fresh meat,” the actor ranks No.1 for social influence. But when it comes to commercial value, he is ranked first among the bottom10.

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

The situation for zhaoliying might be changed in the near future since she now has a very professional and capable agent.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

So that means the brand is wrong, they don’t do the homework well.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Yes.@Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation .

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

That because 99percent of the social media buzz by Xu’s fans is non-product or non-brand-related, according to Bomoda.

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

@Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation Yes.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

In an other word,what makes you follow their recommendation? Any thoughts?

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

Who I follow are normally someone do a great in some other industry rather than just fashion industry such a s ads company or PR, etc.

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

I reckon their lifestyle and value first, then products.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Brands need to do a better  marketing research. Understanding their fans are most important.

 

Oran-Shanghai-Merchandiser

Me too!I never pay for the person I like, while pay for the products I need.

 

Vanessa-GZ-couture

@Oran-Shanghai-Merchandizer +1.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

@Oran-Shanghai-Merchandizer Do they recommend things you need?

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

But what if you have second thought about two products, but KOL just post one of them?

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Well, their job is actually to INFLUENCE your thoughts to get the first one. The one they are posting.

 

Natalie-Xiamen-Analyst

I will check the feedback from real consumers.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Let’s say they are equally good.

 

Vanessa-GZ-couture

I got to say i will choose the one looks more adorable.

 

Part Three: PRONS & CONS

When it comes to the PRONS & CONS of such marketing moves , It is undeniable that KOLs will bring huge profits for brands, and more undiscovered good products for consumers as well.

However, they can also be misleading for the public, by recommending those from brands they collaborate with, out of gaining interests.

And another fact is that most of the expensive KOLs actually won’t have any influence in China, simply because they don’t have any real influence. Their popularity is an illusion, created by so called zombie fans.

Such influencers, with a seemingly large fan base demand thousands of dollars to promote products on their personal accounts for…well…nothing.

So as it was mentioned before, with the goal of increasing sales and expanding the market, the brands need to do their homework. And as a consumer, you need to identify those really influential and beneficial to you.

 

 Alena-Shanghai-AGL

There are several platforms which allow influencers to reach their audience and get paid directly–virtual currency, gifts and many others. For example MeiPai, Yizhibo and HuajiaoZhibo, right?

Speaking of Weibo. I chose one example for our discussion, to see the concept from more practical, less theoretical perspective, and so 25-yo fashion blogger LiangTao, known as Mr.Bags(包先生).

Mr Bags: https://weibo.com/mayumilux?refer_flag=1001030102_

Mr Bags: https://weibo.com/mayumilux?refer_flag=1001030102_

 

Oran-Shanghai-Merchandiser

Pls also check the feedbacks from other users!

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Everyone familiar?

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

Not really.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Just followed him last week.

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

I like to watch benny’s vlog on bilibili.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

I am not familiar with bilibili.

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

Is fun!

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Although I’m not a big fan of his writing style, use too much“!”

 

Oran-Shanghai-Merchandiser

Check the numbers of fans 3millions. Don’t you think that is because fakes bags are to much in well-known platform like Taobao..but he can offer real ones.

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

He is one of the most successful influencers at the moment, focusing on collaboration with luxury brands and promoting their products—bags.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Yes, he does. A huge fan base.

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

Some of those’开箱(Means unpacking)’ open boxed is so fake…so promotional…so bad…

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

He has direct links on his Wechat to e-commerce platforms of the brands. Or he even has the”limited”editions.

图片中可能有:文本

Mr Bags: https://weibo.com/mayumilux?refer_flag=1001030102_

图片中可能有:文本

Mr Bags: https://weibo.com/mayumilux?refer_flag=1001030102_

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

That get SOLD OUT within minutes. That is the power of such a strong KOL.

 

Vincent-Shanghai-Incubator

I need to check my watch history hehe.

 

Oran-Shanghai-Merchandiser

Oh limits make people crazy!

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

He is more into sale bags compare to other KOLs like gogoboi.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

It has been taken to the extend that he even kind of sells or intermediates the sale of purses with his signature. So basically, as a fashion brand, you can get in touch with Mr.Bags and offer him a collaboration.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Mr.bag post more often compared to others bloggers.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Yes, because brands approach him very much.And he gets a lot of money out of such cooperation It can reach up to hundreds of thousands RMB for one article,Which I think is crazy crazy crazy scale of a business.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

I’m not a big fan of him, so this whole cooperation is a little bit bother me. Because I only follow him for the content of the bag.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

In this case, of course, the problem may appear if you are dealing with such an influencing person. As they very much case for their reputation, they can very picky in terms of the brands and their products.

 

Vanessa-GZ-couture

Anyone Follow her? Rebecca.

图片中可能有:1 位用户、微笑、文本

https://jingdaily.com/bomoda-report-ranks-china-kols-effectiveness/. 

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

Don’t like her style that much, not for me.

 

Vanessa-GZ-couture

She writes stylist, make-ups.

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

She cooperated with Mini Cooper last year.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

It more than just paying the KOL to promote your product, of course they are more sophisticated than that. First of all, the must like the product(which does not have to be obvious, since being a KOL has turned into a very well-paid job).

 

Second of all, the product itself should be align with the KOL’s philosophy/ideology/lifestyle/fashion style. Just as a brand, they need to be consistent in terms of their articles, post and recommendation to keep their credibility.

 

Another question I would like to ask, is…do you think there are any cons about KOL marketing? For the brands. After what we have gone through and what we have learnt about KOLs.

 

Heather-Wuhan-AGL

Misleading, they could mislead their followers to some extend,but that’s also inevitable, tho.

 

Alena-Shanghai-AGL

Nice guess.The fact is that most of the expensive KOLs won’t have ANY influence in China, simply because they don’t have any REAL influence.

Their popularity is an illusion, created by so called zombie fans. Such influencers, with a seemingly large fan base demand thousands of dollars to promote products on their personal accounts for…well…nothing. So as it was mentioned before, the brands need to do their homework:).

 

Astrid-Shenzhen-Operation

If you pick the right KOL, sure you can increase your brand awareness. That’s a con I think.

 

 Conclusion

We have covered three parts during this group discussion: introduction and background of KOLs;their adoption as a marketing tool; pros and cons.

As for the first part, KOL, or s so called “Key Opinion Leader”, refers to a person with a significant influence on people. In China, it can be a famous or just a regular person with large-huge fan base. The term KOL has been used in the marketing field, however, in our seminar we use this term as a reference to Chinese KOLs, whereas those in the West will only be called as “influencers”.

KOLs in China are mostly active on different social media platforms, such as Weibo, Bilibili, Wechat and many others. As seen bellow, the KOL was compared to the Chinese words “wang hong” that seems to have a very negative connotation in the Chinese language, which is mostly linked to gossiping.

The very first KOL in China appeared in 1988. Taiwanese writer Pi zi Cai became the first Chinese internet celebrity with his online romance novel“The First Intimate Touch”.

Since then, as the internet and techniques developed, more apps and platforms have sprung up, bringing huge opportunities  and more exposure for this group.

For the second part, KOLs are often adopted as a marketing tool. They can serve as brand ambassadors, brand spokesmen/women, product spokesmen/women or regional ambassadors. As for any type, the collaboration is mainly product oriented.

As for the effectiveness of such collaboration, some are successful while some are not. For example, some celebrities, such as Xu Weizhou, known as one of the popular pretty boys or China’s “little fresh meat”, ranking No.1 for social influence, is ranked first among the bottom 10 in term of commercial value.

In other words, his influence or number of social media followers in not translated into sales, and therefore may not seem as a good investment from the brands’ perspective.

Therefore, it’s necessary for brands to do a little bit of a marketing research and investigation before choosing suitable KOL. Understanding their fans values, and being clear about their consumption capacity and preference are the most important factors brands should understand.

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