Is the Selling Power of China’s KOLs Changing the Nature of Chinese E-commerce Marketing?

This past year has seen an explosion in KOLs moving from merely posting branded content to now helping brands to directly sell products. Last month, we saw a prime example of this shift in KOL power when Mini Cooper teamed up with Chinese fashion blogger Becky Li to sell 100 Mini Cooper cars. She leveraged her vast social media following to help the brand sell 100 cars in 4 minutes.

We look at four case studies of recent examples of this influence-to-sales shift, and provide tips on how to get the best results from similar partnerships.

Mr. Bags teamed up with Givenchy to release this "Mini Horizon" handbag exclusively to his followers for Valentine's Day. They could purchase it through his WeChat or through Givenchy's official WeChat store. (Courtesy Photo)

Photo: Courtesy of Givenchy

1. MR. BAGS X GIVENCHY

Mr. Bags is one of the top 10 influencers in China. His platform is focused on fashion accessories – namely bags (his trademark) and shoes. With more than 3 million followers on Weibo and his WeChat posts garnering more than 100,000 plus views, Mr. Bags has become a leading ‘sales’ KOL within the fashion industry and works with many of the top international luxury brands.

The Campaign

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, Mr. Bags partnered with fashion powerhouse Givenchy to offer a Valentine’s Day x Mr. Bags limited edition bag to his fans. The 80 pink mini horizon bags were priced at RMB 14,900 each.

The Result

All 80 bags were sold within 12 minutes of being posted on Mr. Bags’ channels.

Photo: Mr. Bags/Weibo

2. MR. BAGS X TOD’S

The Campaign

Tod’s recently worked with Mr. Bags to launch 200 custom pieces of three iconic handbags- the ‘Sella’, ‘Double T’, and ‘Wave’. This campaign involved interaction with Mr. Bags’ fans in order to develop the design of the bags. Via live-streaming, video content and images, followers could give design input and feedback along the way, generating hype and excitement in the run up to the launch

The Result

The 200 custom pieces all sold out at a total value of RMB 3.4 million.

Photo: Gogoboi/WeChat

3. GOGOBOI X GIVENCHY

Gogoboi is also one China’s top 10 fashion influencers, with over 7 million followers on Weibo, and articles regularly hitting more than 100,000 views. On WeChat, he discusses fashion tips and trends and celebrity style, along with his most famous posts ‘Who Wears What?’. In May 2017, Gogoboi launched his own WeChat e-commerce, linking all recommended items in his article to direct sales.

The Campaign

Recently, Givenchy partnered with Gogoboi to sell their new ‘Duetto’ handbag collection in 7 colors. Fans were able to buy 1 of 6 bags available in each color.

The Result

All the bags were snapped up within 72 hours

Recommended ReadingGivenchy Wins on Gogoboi’s New E-Commerce ChannelBy Rachel Zheng
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Courtesy photo

Photo: Courtesy of MINI.

4. BECKY LI X MINI COOPER

Becky Li is one of China’s top 10 fashion influencers. She is dubbed the ‘Buying Goddess’ due to her product recommendations and loyal fan base of more than 1.6 million on WeChat.

The Campaign

Last week, Becky Li launched the ‘Mini Yours’ campaign with Mini. The campaign comprised of Becky posting content about the special ‘Caribbean Aqua’ color of the car and matching it with her fashion recommendations.

The Result

All 100 limited edition Minis sold out within 4 minutes of launch.

Conclusion

Luxury brands are now clearly seeing that KOLs in China are not only a tool to build awareness and affinity with potential customers, but also a powerful new channel to launch exclusive products and sell directly to customers.

Key tips for a successful partnership include:

1. RELATING THE PRODUCT TO THE KOL

Fans want to see authentic and meaningful collaborations between brands and their favorite KOLs, like Mr. Bags customizing limited edition handbags or Becky Li working with Mini on one of the seasons hottest new colors.

2. BRINGING FOLLOWERS INTO THE PROCESS

The best partnerships take followers along the journey. For example, they want to be asked for their feedback or to share their stories and experiences. It shouldn’t be a one-way process.

3. BUILDING A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP

In many of these examples, the brands have been working with the KOLs already on other campaigns and projects. The KOLs selling the brand’s product is seen as a natural extension of the long-term relationship between the brand, KOLs, and followers.

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Case Study

  • Jeff Unze

    It would be interesting to see the costs or general costs of working with these KOLs. Do brands look for direct ROI or are they happy with some revenue return + the branding effect.

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