The Symbiotic Relationship Between KOLs and China

A lot has been written regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the world economy and fashion and luxury brands’ experts have been very proficient in hypothesizing the post-virus era. 


It is too early to make decisive statements on the ability of the Chinese market to rebound, given the fact that the world's second-largest economy contracted 6.8% according to official data released on Friday 17th of April. Yet, the Hermes store in Guangzhou reportedly sold goods for $2.7 million when it reopened last weekend. Although this figure has not been officially confirmed by the French brand, a plethora of influential and affluent clients made their purchases digitally visible across Weibo, Xiaohongshu and, of course, WeChat.  


The Chinese government has been very proactive to consolidate its broadband network and has strenuously promoted the adoption of smartphones across the country. The latest data suggests that an average of 76.8% of the Chinese population is connected to the internet. The rate of ownership of a smartphone will also be reaching about 0.78 billion by the end of 2020. Current mobile phone subscriptions as of September 2019 have already reached nearly 1.6 billion. With all the major global social media platform blocked and with the government's penchant for citizens control it was only natural that China developed its net ecosystem. 


With its peculiarity – integrated efficiency. Xiaohongshu, also known as Little Red Book, has grown to become China's first lifestyle shopping platform since its launch in 2014. Mostly dedicated to a female audience and in sharp contrast with other e-commerce platforms, Little Red Book focuses on a unique blend of the trusted user-generated content word of mouth advertising and online community-building.  


The Little Red Book is the reflection of a highly integrated online ecosystem that takes 875 million netizens through a series of experiences that support each other – from search video streaming to e-commerce and payment platforms without forgetting social media that have a unique take in portraying and pushing products. KOL – or Key Opinion Leaders – as influencers are known in China, are crucial for the commercial success of fashion and luxury brands. 


I had the chance to sit down at a very socially acceptable distance with Landon Du who lives in Shanghai and who is a PR expert with a career that spans from Ogilvy the international communication agency to Shanghai Fashion Week. I am determined to understand why KOLs are so influential. Our conversation focusses straight away on a crucial principle. Perhaps Europe has slightly higher numbers in terms of mobile users and high-speed penetration but China is fundamentally a younger country – younger than the house of Dior- with a government that grants the role of modernizer to its Gen Z.  


A generation that is naturally apt to technology and that has worked as a fundamental factor to push into modernity even older age. Landon tells me that today, in tertiary cities across the country, senior citizens have abandoned the tradition of watching the news on their TV set and are instead using their smartphones. 


Life in China is swiftly moving online. Everyone is a content-creator everyone has become a believable editor of his or her own life. Yet KOLs yield a specific power on a massive audience ready to spend a pretty penny using their mobile. 


Therefore, this societal background is necessary to understand the role of KOLs. Landon goes on telling me that this excess of realness has singled out a few KOL in the fashion and luxury industry for their ability to retain a sense of an outlandish dreamlike lifestyle that repackages products in a very aspirational yet reachable context. 


Naturally, my next question verges on the fact that the contrast between real and dream has been at the base of printed media and fashion for over a century. Have KOLs replaced editors? Which would be plausible given the current situation of the publishing industry. Yet in Europe and the US, we feel that the power of influencers has dramatically diminished. 


Landon refocuses my attention on one word – integration. In a highly consolidated system, KOL is part of a very well-oiled machine with and cover a very definite role. Very knowledgeable not many in numbers and very well trusted KOLs are integrated into the marketing communication plans of brands without overlapping the purposes of fashion editors who are generally understood to be behind the scenes or the one of celebrities who are considered to have an intense but short-lived impact.  


KOLs work on beautifying what the general public contextualize in their daily routine with their expertise and targeted audience people believe them because their role is more multifaceted more approachable yet authoritative commanding a continuous engagement that flows with the brand's message and more importantly with the brand's strategy. 


The critical take-away on KOL and China is not necessarily their daily functions, which are relatively similar to our influencers, but their integrated role in a very well implemented and supported multi-channel strategy.

SHARE
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
SIMILAR ARTICLES
Hiroshi Fujiwara Designs Moncler's Latest Collection
By Rebecca Hitchon
Italian luxury brand Moncler rolled out today a new collection designed in collaboration with...
By Rebecca Hitchon
Italian luxury brand Moncler rolled out today a new collection designed in collaboration with globally influential streetwear designer and Japanese hip hop DJ Hiroshi Fujiwara."I wanted to create a new standard, delivering the message that Moncler loves the mountain, which is where the story...
Italian luxury brand Moncler rolled out today a new collection designed in collaboration with globally influential streetwear designer and Japanese hip hop DJ Hiroshi Fujiwara."I wanted to create a new standard, delivering the message that Moncler loves the mountain, which is where the story started," said Fujiwara about the 7 Moncler Fragment Hiroshi Fujiwara collection. This message is...
Kering Sets New Biodiversity Targets
By Alice Ierace
Global luxury group Kering has announced a dedicated biodiversity strategy with a series of new...
By Alice Ierace
Global luxury group Kering has announced a dedicated biodiversity strategy with a series of new targets in order to achieve a 'net positive' impact on biodiversity by 2025.Aligned with its long-term commitment to sustainability, the group’s new biodiversity strategy outlines steps to not only...
Global luxury group Kering has announced a dedicated biodiversity strategy with a series of new targets in order to achieve a 'net positive' impact on biodiversity by 2025.Aligned with its long-term commitment to sustainability, the group’s new biodiversity strategy outlines steps to not only minimize biodiversity loss across its global supply chains but also to support nature and create net...
ALIITA: A Sparkling Family Affair
By Elisa Carassai
Family affairs are known to be a tradition amongst Italian fashion brands. The Missoni's, the...
By Elisa Carassai
Family affairs are known to be a tradition amongst Italian fashion brands. The Missoni's, the Fendi's, the Ferragamo's and the Castiglioni's, are just a few of the renown names that come to mind when thinking of the fashion empires that keep it in the family. One of these is Aliita, the jewellery...
Family affairs are known to be a tradition amongst Italian fashion brands. The Missoni's, the Fendi's, the Ferragamo's and the Castiglioni's, are just a few of the renown names that come to mind when thinking of the fashion empires that keep it in the family. One of these is Aliita, the jewellery brand established by Venezuelan-born and Milan-based designer Cynthia Vilchez Castiglioni with the...
Loewe Releases Divine-Inspired Collection
By Alice Ierace
Loewe has released its limited-edition Divine collection, honouring drag queen and actor...
By Alice Ierace
Loewe has released its limited-edition Divine collection, honouring drag queen and actor Divine. “[Divine] was absolutely out of the ordinary. He lived an intense life as a man, performer, character and as a body. For me, it is the embodiment of the principle of self-determination,” explained...
Loewe has released its limited-edition Divine collection, honouring drag queen and actor Divine. “[Divine] was absolutely out of the ordinary. He lived an intense life as a man, performer, character and as a body. For me, it is the embodiment of the principle of self-determination,” explained Jonathan Anderson, creative director of the house.The collection consists primarily of three t-shirts...
H&M Launches New CHIMI Collab
By Rebecca Hitchon
H&M has announced a collaboration with Stockholm-based eyewear brand CHIMI for a summer menswear...
By Rebecca Hitchon
By Rebecca Hitchon
H&M has announced a collaboration with Stockholm-based eyewear brand CHIMI for a summer menswear collection. The CHIMI x H&M collection, which became exclusively available on the H&M website earlier this month, marks CHIMI’s first venture into menswear, after gaining success among the...
H&M has announced a collaboration with Stockholm-based eyewear brand CHIMI for a summer menswear collection. The CHIMI x H&M collection, which became exclusively available on the H&M website earlier this month, marks CHIMI’s first venture into menswear, after gaining success among the Insta-generation for their “inclusive, fun, progressive” sunglasses designs, in the words of Creative Director...
MQBMBQ Celebrates Black Queerness in all its Different Forms
By Sasha Regazzoni
The new three-week long fundraising project denounces white queer racism and black queer...
By Sasha Regazzoni
The new three-week long fundraising project denounces white queer racism and black queer antagonism through photography, literature and film.  Jamaican-born creative Jordan Anderson has long felt concern for the worryingly stagnant direction of the fashion and arts industries and the lack of...
The new three-week long fundraising project denounces white queer racism and black queer antagonism through photography, literature and film.  Jamaican-born creative Jordan Anderson has long felt concern for the worryingly stagnant direction of the fashion and arts industries and the lack of black LGBTQ+ representation within them, hence deciding to take matters into his own hands. “My Queer...
Y/PROJECT's Eclectic Versatility
By Alice Ierace
If there is one thing 2020 has taught us so far is that the...
By Alice Ierace
If there is one thing 2020 has taught us so far is that the show must go on. Even within the fashion industry, months of lockdown and uncertainty haven’t stopped designers and creatives alike to share their work and talent with the world. That's exactly...
If there is one thing 2020 has taught us so far is that the show must go on. Even within the fashion industry, months of lockdown and uncertainty haven’t stopped designers and creatives alike to share their work and talent with the world. That's exactly why, on a sunny June afternoon, Glenn Martens gave me a personal preview of his latest SS21 collection...
New Coalition To Tackle Racism and Discrimination In The Fashion Industry
By Rebecca Hitchon
A coalition of more than 400 Black editors, stylists, models and executives is set to address...
By Rebecca Hitchon
A coalition of more than 400 Black editors, stylists, models and executives is set to address systematic racism and discrimination within the fashion and beauty industries when it launches next month.Co-founded by Teen Vogue Editor-In-Chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner and publicist Sandrine Charles,...
A coalition of more than 400 Black editors, stylists, models and executives is set to address systematic racism and discrimination within the fashion and beauty industries when it launches next month.Co-founded by Teen Vogue Editor-In-Chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner and publicist Sandrine Charles, the Black in Fashion Coalition wants to concentrate industry efforts to fight racism through...