With 10.7 million Weibo followers, Hung Huang knows a thing or two about the influence of key opinion leaders (KOLs) in China. So at a time when luxury brands are starting to question the return on investment they’re getting from KOL endorsements, we asked readers to submit their questions to Hung about the role of KOLs in China’s luxury and fashion industry.
For next week’s topic, we’re inviting readers to submit their questions for Hung Huang on the growing ath-leisure trend in China. As athletic looks and sneakers are now a global street-style and runway staple, submit your questions about their role in China’s fashion scene—and how the trend relates to China’s growing interest in health and wellness.
Submit your question via Twitter (hashtag #AskHungHuang), Facebook, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Weibo (hashtag #AskHungHuang#) before Monday, February 22.
In your experience as both a fashion publisher and a boutique owner, how have you utilized the influence of key opinion leaders (KOLs) such as fashion bloggers?
I am a KOL; when I opened BNC 5 years ago, 80 percent of store traffic in the first two months was due to my Weibo. But since then, KOLs have become more numerous and varied. Since then, the KOL business has become huge, but I think its function remains as a tool to get eyeballs or traffic, not necessarily deeper understanding.
Are there any well-known KOL/talent management companies in China? If so, which companies? For overseas, there is Digital Brand Architects (DBA) who focus on social media/KOL management.
I am sure there are KOL management companies buried within ad agencies and so on.
We’ve been hearing from experts recently that paying KOLs large sums of money to post about a brand on social media in China may not actually have the return on investment that they claim it does. What is your take?
I think brands are rushing to KOLs to try to see whether the KOL is the new format that might replace print, particularly with WeChat public numbers. I heard that Gogoboi’s total revenue reached 20 million in 2015. I think in China, KOLs can buy fans as well as create fake numbers of readership, just as easily as print can lie about circulation. So, in some ways, brands are jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Paying KOLs is one thing, over-paying is quite another. There is no return on over-paying, ever.
Do you think it’s more effective for fashion and luxury brands to hire KOLs or celebrities?
I think the next generation of consumers are not that easily influenced. I believe consumers are getting more intelligent and will be attracted to brands which mean something to them beyond merely material possession. KOLs and celebrities are quick fixes to get eyeballs, but how much it contributes to brand-building and sales is a different story.