Before I begin this article, I would like to thank everyone who helped me to put all of this together. They shared with me their experience, knowledge, feedback and more. So many thanks go out to Elijah Whaley, Marie, Thibault from mei.com and many others.
For those of us living and working in China, it is pointless to it is pointless to explain just how particular the Chinese market is. As we are sure you already know, you have to adapt your business, your marketing strategy, and even yourself to the local market.
This article will talk about three very specific concepts: KOL - LIVE WEB STREAMING - FLASH SALES. These are three ways of both communicating with and marketing towards your target audience. We are going to show you some successful case studies and we are going to give you some tips that we have collected from both our own experiences and experts in the field.
What Is a KOL?
KOL is the abbreviation for "Key Opinion Leader". Think of them as a person who has a large amount of influence on others and is usually an expert in their field. A simple example of a KOL could be a famous doctor or scientist because they are respected and followed by others, both in their field and out. Though in China it goes even further. Yes, of course, you will find some celebrities such as football players but there are other types of influencers or KOL's. Here are the five types:
• Celebrities: famous actors, businessmen, singers, and artists.
• Fashion bloggers: they write about clothes and make-up.
• Communities: a group of people writing about anything and everything.
• Internet celebrities (Wanghong): they can be famous due to their behavior or their beauty.
• Funny accounts: as the name suggest their purpose is to make people laugh.
How Can You Work With a KOL?
There are different ways to work with KOLs so let's take a look at some very interesting ways 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 a specific KOL. This is a good way to ask the KOL to promote the product that you sent to them. This method also helps build a good relationship with the KOL because you are sending them free merchandise. By collaborating with the right KOL, the one who is connected with the targeted segment of the company, you will be able to reach thousands and thousands of people.
However, the issue with this method is that the KOL will promote the product only if and when he wants or feel
2. Pay per sale
As its name indicates, the company and the KOL will work on a fixed rate. This means that for every successful sale during the campaign the KOL will receive a commission. This agreement between the company and the KOL can be a difficult one to reach but the ROI will be guaranteed..
3. Pay per click
This method is used with a low-range KOL. That means you will work with micro-influencers.
4. Flat rate
This is the easiest agreement to reach with a KOL and as such it represents almost 95% of KOL agreements.
What Are the Specific Case Studies for These Methods?
Pay Per Sale:
JACEYL: they used this method with Melilim Fu. JACEYL is a foreign purchasing agent that 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 only one week of work, JACEYL followers increased by 1500 and 800 on Weibo and WeChat respectively. They sold $25,400 USD worth of product and Melilim received 20% commission.
Pay Per Click:
YES: this company contacted Melilim Fu to promote their launch party and to share a download link for their App on Weibo.This took place in a jewelry shop in Beijing called Sanlitun Soho. It was a live show where Melilim was chatting with her followers and at the same time she was trying on different jewelry. Thanks to this method, the digital stock of YES was sold out before the end of the show.
Maybelline: they hired Melilim and other KOLs to put together a live show on five live streaming Apps to talk about Maybelline's new line of lipstick. She reached more than 3 million viewers. To create even more engagement, they asked their KOLs to use VR headsets to record their experiences and then post them on their personal Meipai accounts. They sold 10,000 lipstick products within two hours.
Where Can You 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, you can either ask for a pricing from a specific WeChat account and see if it fits your budget, or you can make an offer to different KOL accounts and see which one will accept it. Once an offer is accepted, you transfer your money to the platform and then the platform transfers 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 for every 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 needs the most.
The approach here is more traditional. The previous two platforms are self-service platforms, with this one you will have to go through their own services and their sales team to discuss a potential collaboration. Once an agreement has been made, you will have access to a detailed excel spreadsheet with the prices. Sometimes you will be able to get a better price than going to talk directly with the KOLs. However, quality control is still your responsibility.
How Do You Choose a KOL?
You need to be careful when you decide to work with some KOLs. In China, the use of KOLs 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 your target audience it can still be very expensive. If you decide to choose a KOL for your strategy, follow these five tips::
Choose your Chinese KOL with care and make sure the KOL understands the idea of your brand, for example, if you are a sports brand, do not use a KOL that represents a luxury brand, unless you are promoting a new product for another target audience.
Do not be fooled by the number of followers a KOL has. Recently, there has been a common trend where followers on different Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat can be paid to follow a brand’s account.
- Understand your ROI’s (return on investment) and KPI (key performance indicators). Each publication or action must have a clear purpose. If you want to build brand awareness then you will have to check your KPI (eg. comments, likes etc.) and if you want to increase your sales then the KPI will be the products sold.
Check the reputation of KOLs before using them as your brand ambassador. The reputation of a KOL is constantly changing so be aware of this. A KOL can be famous one day and be gone the next and this will impact your brand image or message.
Be aware of KOLs who possess a large number of brand ads. Social media KOLs may have several brands because it represents a larger revenue source. However, this can be a double-edged sword because if a KOL works for many different brands, their followers will feel that they are no longer an independent source of information.
What Are the Indicators of the Live Web Streaming?
According to a study from Weibo, the 6,410 most famous celebrities have on average 25,130 views, 11,151 comments and 45,317 “likes” in the last five months. The majority of the followers are men and 74% of these celebrities are women while 88% of these are between 17 and 33 years old. The majority live in the provinces 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 Online Flash Sales?
As the name indicates, it means that you are going to have an ecommerce product sale at and for a predetermined amount of time. This kind of sale can be with any product that you want but you need to be very well prepared.
Let’s have a very successful example of an online flash sale:
Tao Liang, better known as Mr. Bags, is a very famous Chinese blogger. He blogs exclusively 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 a promotional sale for 80 limited edition pink handbags. The price was 14,900 RMB per bag.
These are the factors that he used to his advantage to make it happen:
- His popularity as KOL to promote the new product ( he is extremely influential in China, maybe even more than a KOL could be in other countries).
- 80 limited edition handbags.
A limited time frame - when you connected to the page and ordered your handbag, you only 15 minutes to fill in all the needed information and pay.
- A special date with the festival tie-in (buy for others).
- Reminded everyone who is famous that has Givenchy bags.
The set price - it respected the limit of all banks to allow for it to be bought through WeChat.
In conclusion, he sold everything in 12 minutes and made a total of 1.192 million RMB. Therefore we can call this a true success story.
What Can You Do to Have a Good Online Flash Sale?
As the case study showed, to be successful with an online flash sale you have to keep these tips in mind:
- You need to fix the purpose of your flash sale. Once it is fixed you have to stick to it.
- Keep it simple and get straight to the point.
- Define your target group to be able to better understand them and know how to reach them.
- Choose the right time and date. It has to fit with your target group to give them the best opportunity to make the purchase.
- Do not make a long flash sale, keep it short to make it exclusive.
- Offer a significant discount to make them buy your product.
Use a good KOL for your product and work intensively for a few days or even weeks in advance to let people know about your flash sale.
- Be on deck during the sale, you have to check everything, be ready to answer your customer's questions, share feedback and information on 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 online flash sales or are even interested in applying these concepts to your business and strategy, do not hesitate to contact us.