Before starting to write this article I would like to thank the people who helped me to realize it. They shared with me their experience, knowledge, feedback… Thank you to Elijah Whaley, Marie, Thibault from mei.com and many other people.
For people living and working in China it is pointless to explain them how particular the Chinese market is. You need to adapt yourself, your business, your marketing strategy… to this very specific local market.
This article will talk about three very specific points: KOL – LIVE WEB STREAMING – FLASH SALES. Three ways of communicate and doing marketing with your target. We are going to show some successful study cases, going to give some tips that we were able to collect through our own experience and through some experts in this field.
What is a KOL?
KOL is the abbreviation of Key Opinion Leader. You can think of them as person who can have a big influence on people and usually they are expert in their field. A simple example would be a famous doctor or scientist, he will be respected and followed by the people in the same field. But in China it goes even further. Of course you will also find some the celebrities such as a football player but you can have other types of influencers. We have five type of KOL:
- Celebrities: famous actors, businessmen, singers and artists.
- Fashion bloggers: they wrote about clothes and make-up.
- Communities: group of people writing about everything.
- Internet celebrities (Wanghong): they are famous thanks to their behavior or their beauty.
- Funny account: as their name suggest their purpose is to make people laugh.
How can you work with a KOL?
There are different ways to work with KOLs. Let’s follow a very interesting way to classify them from the highest ROI to the lowest:
1. Send free gifts
This method can be quite cheap for the person/company who wants to work with the KOL. It is a good way to ask them to promote the sent product. It is also a good way to build a relationship with the KOL by sending free gifts. For the company, by collaborating with the right KOL (the one who touches the targeted segment of the company) they will be able to touch thousands and thousands of people.
However, the issues with this method is that the KOL will promote the product only when he wants and when he feels it right. Moreover, the company should not expect any feedback from the KOL.
2. Pay per sale
As its name indicates, the company and the KOL will work on a fixed rate. It means that every sale done during the campaign the KOL will receive a commission. The agreement between the company and the KOL can be difficult to reach but the ROI will be guaranteed.
3. Pay per click
This method is used with the low-range KOL. That means you will work with micro-influencers.
4. Flat rate
This agreement is the easiest one to apply with a KOL. It represents almost 95% of the agreements with KOLs. They use this method because it is easy.
What are the case studies for these methods?
Pay per sale:
JACEYL: they used this method with Melilim Fu. JACEYL is a foreign purchasing agent who ships goods to China. They had a common Weibo and WeChat account and the only thing that Melilim had to do was to show the products and explain to her followers where to go to buy these products.
After one week of work, JACEYL got 1500 and 800 more followers on Weibo and WeChat. They sold for an amount of 25,400 USD and Melilim received 20% commission.
Pay per click:
YES: this company contacted Melilum Fu to promote their launch party and share a link to download their App on Weibo. Their will take place in a jewelry shop in Beijing called Sanlitum Soho. It was a live show where Melilim was chatting with the followers and at the same time she was trying on different jewelry. Thanks to this operation, the digital stock of YES was sold out even before the end of the show.
For this case it was hard to say how much her impact was on the downloads of the App but they said it should be around 25% of the viewers that means around 5,000 downloads. She got 800 USD so it represents only 0.16 USD per download.
Maybelline: they hired Melilim and other KOLs to realize a live show on five live streaming Apps to talk about the new lipsticks of the company. She reached more than 3 million views. To create even more engagement, they asked to their KOLs to use VR headsets to record their experiences and they posted them on their own Meipai accounts. They sold 10,000 lipstick products within two hours.
Where can we find KOLs?
They are three main platforms that can help you to find KOLs:
- Newrank.cn 新榜
This platform ranks all the major WeChat accounts based on their popularity and their performance. Basically, you have to register as an “Advertiser Owner (广告主)”, select your budget and industry (the platform will offer you different possibilities) then you will have to upload your article. After that part you can either ask for a pricing from a specific WeChat account and see if it fits you or you can propose your offer to different KOL accounts and see which one will accept it. Once accepted, you transfer your money on the platform and the platform transfer the money to the KOL.
- Weizhishu.com 微指数
This one is more simple, you have a list of KOLs and everything is sorted by industry with the price of each single message. However, you should still be careful because some of the accounts are too good to be true. You need to find the one that will match your the most your need.
The approach here is more traditional. The previous two platforms are self-service platforms, this one you will have to go through their own services and their sales team to discuss about a potential collaboration. Once you agreed with them you will have access to a detailed excel spreadsheet with the prices. Sometimes you will be able to get cheaper price than going to talk directly with the KOLs. However, the quality-control is still under your responsibility.
How do you choose a KOL?
You need to be careful when you decide to work with some KOLs. Indeed, in China the use of it can be very powerful but it can be also very expensive and have a very small impact on your sales. Even if you decide to hire a KOL that does not match with your target it can still stay very expensive. If you have to choose a KOL for your strategy, follow these five tips:
- Choose your Chinese KOL with care and make sure you and the KOL get the idea of your brand, for example, if you are a sport brand, do not use a KOL that represents luxury brand, unless you promote a new product for another target.
- Do not be fooled by follower numbers. Recently, there is a common trend that followers on different Chinese social media such as Weibo and WeChat can be paid to follow a brand’s account.
- Understand your ROI’s (return on investment) KPI (key performance indicators). Each publication or action must have a clear purpose. If you want to build the brand awareness then you will have to check some KPI such as (comments, likes) and if you want to increase the sales then the KPI will be the products sold.
- Check the reputation of KOLs before to put them as your brand ambassador. The reputation of KOL is constantly changing so be aware of this. A KOL can be famous one day and in a few months he will be forgotten and it will impact your brand image or message.
- Be aware of KOLs who possess a large number of brand ads. Social media KOLs can have several brands because it represents a big opportunity of revenue for them. But it can be double edged sword, indeed, if a KOL works for different brands, his followers will feel that he does not provide anymore an independent source of information.
What are the indicators of the live web streaming?
According to a study of Weibo, the 6,410 most famous celebrities have on average 25,130 views, 11,151 comments and 45,317 “like” on the last five months. Most of the followers are men but 74% of the celebrities are women. 88% of them are between 17 and 33 years old. The majority live in the province of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
What are the actual main online video platforms in China?
These following numbers are for the month of March 2017 (in million):
- Tv.sohu.com with 25,905.8
- V.qq.com with 13,219.1
- Video.sina.com.cn with 3,519.3
- Iqiyi.com with 3,210
- Youku.com with 2,190
Let’s have a look at the online video platforms for luxury brands:
- Meipai with 570 million of visitors
- Douyu TV with 1.2 million daily visitors in 2016
- Huajiao with 5 million daily visitors
- Inke with 130 million subscribers and 15 million daily visitors
- Yizhibo with 7.73 daily visitors
What are the online flash sales?
Like its name indicates, it means that you are going to do an ecommerce activity for at a determined time. That kind of sale can be about any product you want you just need to be really prepared.
Let’s have a very successful example of online flash sale:
Tao Liang, more well-known as Mr. Bags, is a very famous Chinese blogger. He blogs only about handbags on his WeChat subscription account. He has around 1.2 million followers. He decided, in collaboration with the French luxury brand Givenchy, to do the promotion and sale an exclusive limited edition of 80 pink handbags. The price was 14,900 RMB. He used different factors to make it happen:
- His popularity as KOL to promote the new product (very influent in China maybe even more than a KOL could be in other countries).
- Limited edition with only 80 bags.
- Limited time because when you connect to the page and order you had only 15 minutes to fill in all the needed information and pay.
- A special date with the festival tie-in (buy for others).
- Remembered to everyone who are the famous people who have Givenchy bags.
- The price respected the limit of each bank to be able to buy it through WeChat.
In conclusion, he sold everything in 12 minutes and made a total of 1.192 million RMB. We can call that a real success story.
How do we do a good online flash sale?
As the study case showed us, to be able to succeed with an online flash sale you have to keep in mind these tips:
- You need to fix the purpose of your flash sale. Once it is fixed you have to stick to it.
- Keep it simple and go straight to the point.
- Define your target group to be able to better understand them and know how to touch them.
- Choose the right time and the date. It has to fit with your target to give them the best opportunity to realize the purchase.
- Do not make a long flash sale, keep it short to make it exclusive.
- Offer significant discount to make them buy your product.
- Use the good KOL for your product and work intensively a few days or even weeks in advance to let the people know about your flash sale.
- Be on the deck during the sale, you have to check everything, be ready to answer to your customers and share the feedbacks, information on the social media.
- Be clear with the terms of service to avoid any troubles later or during the sale.
What is your next step?
If you are interested to know more about KOL, web streaming or even flash sales or even interested to apply these concepts to your business and strategy, do not hesitate to contact us.