It’s the end of the KOL era – KOCs and COLs are now taking over
By now you are probably familiar with KOL marketing, with KOL meaning Key Opinion Leaders of course. These are influencers with massive audiences who regularly work with high-end brands. We are now seeing the flip side of this success. Both brands and consumers are complaining of “influencer fatigue”, in other words consumers are getting a little tired of influencer marketing.
In addition, these Key Opinion Leaders are surrounded by scandals related to underhand practices of agencies, buying followers and clicks, and hidden sponsorship. Young Chinese people are no longer impressed or interested in these web celebrities, who often lack authenticity. Once a source of impressive success in China, KOLs are quickly becoming consigned to the scrapheap of influencer marketing. The future is KOCs and COLs.
KOCs – influencers on a human scale.
The emergence of KOC marketing is one of the major marketing trends in the Chinese market to watch this year. Indeed, more and more brands are opting for these consumer-influencers rather than traditional Chinese KOLs.
What is a KOC?
KOCs are Key Opinion Consumers. They have built up a following through their reliable and numerous product reviews. Simply put, these are consumers who share their opinions and affection for a brand or product online. Any consumer can therefore become a KOC. Similar to brand lawyers, they also have a platform and an audience to which they share their positive and negative opinions. These key opinion consumers have become true experts in testing and reviewing products and services. Since they are not directly paid by the brands to promote their products, their reviews are more reliable. Their reviews have more credibility and their readers place great trust in them.
The Great Benefits of KOC Marketing
With smaller audiences, they need to be used more carefully, to reach niche consumers and various targets. Where KOLs provide huge exposure, KOCs come with a more targeted approach.
KOC marketing is particularly relevant for companies that lack authority and credibility in their market. KOCs operate on a human scale. They understand the needs and expectations of other consumers since they are the end users themselves. Their reviews and opinions are therefore greatly valued by consumers and brands alike. Trust is their key asset.
While calling upon the services of a experienced KOL can quickly become very expensive, KOC marketing does not require major external or financial resources. KOCs are not remunerated by the brands; the exchange is based on a supply of products from regular customers of the brand or consumers who have expressed an interest in the products or services.
The opinions and reviews of these KOLs leave a credible trace of your brand online. This will then contribute towards building a solid and positive e-reputation .
For more information on how to use KOCs for your business, check out our Ultimate Guide to KOC Marketing.
COLs – influencers of influencers.
Have you ever wondered who influences influencers? COLs are Cultural Opinion Leaders, a wave of influencers who are on their way to completely redefining influencer marketing in China. They have taken up a special and complementary position in the marketing strategy of brands.
What is a COL?
Cultural Opinion Leaders are real cultural pioneers in China. They are real vectors of ‘Guochao’, a trend that pushes consumers to consume ‘Made in China’ products, which are no longer synonymous with poor quality. They like to promote and carry domestic brands. They favor foreign brands that understand and celebrate Chinese culture through their products and a type of communication that doesn’t resort to stereotypes. They do not seek vapid fame but derive their credibility from their cultural authority around a particular subject or area. In China, brands now call upon COLs when developing their products in addition to their influencer marketing strategy.
The great advantages of COL marketing
COLs are mainly from Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2010. They are therefore what we can call ‘digital natives’ and very social media-oriented. Their audience is largely made up of ‘Gen Z’, a young and dynamic segment of the population.
COLs assert their individuality. They do not seek to copy and reproduce international trends, but rather be part of developing and defining them. They show off creativity and authenticity to win over their audiences.
COLs favor the creation and belonging to niche subcultures and communities. They express their individuality by finding themselves in sub-cultures and communities whose creation and belonging they promote. They themselves represent niche markets.
COLs are recognized for their authenticity. They assert their tastes and choices and do not hesitate to be vulnerable in all aspects of their lives. Their opinions therefore carry great credibility and their audiences place great trust in them. To find out which strategy is best suited to your business, visit our page dedicated to influencer marketing!
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