China Marketing Must-Know: Who are KOCs and why they matter?

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the way Chinese consumers make purchasing decisions. In the past, celebrities and influencers were the main drivers of consumer behavior. However, now a new type of influencer has emerged – the KOC (Key Opinion Consumer). KOCs are everyday consumers who have built up a significant social media presence and are able to influence the purchasing decisions of their followers. In this article, we will explore who KOCs are and why they matter in the Chinese market.

What are KOCs?

KOCs are micro-influencers who have a smaller but more engaged following on social media platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin. These influencers are usually everyday individuals who have a specific niche, whether it be beauty, fashion, parenting, or technology. They produce high-quality content, often in the form of reviews, tutorials or personal experiences, and have the trust and loyalty of their followers. KOCs do not have massive followings like celebrities or KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), but they have a much stronger connection to their audience, which can lead to a higher conversion rate.

Why do KOCs matter?

KOCs matter in the Chinese market because they have become an essential element of the consumer decision-making process. According to a survey by marketing agency Ogilvy, 54% of Chinese consumers trust KOCs more than traditional advertising, and 61% said they have purchased a product or service based on a KOC’s recommendation. This can be attributed to the fact that consumers trust the opinions of someone who is like them and has had a genuine experience with a product. KOCs are seen as more authentic and relatable compared to KOLs or celebrities, who are perceived as being more promotional and less trustworthy.

KOCs also offer a cost-effective way for brands to reach their target audience. Unlike KOLs or celebrities, KOCs do not charge high fees for sponsored content. They are often willing to promote products or services in exchange for free samples or other non-financial rewards. This makes KOCs an attractive option for smaller brands or those with limited marketing budgets.

How to work with KOCs?

To be successful in working with KOCs, brands need to understand their target audience and the platforms where KOCs are most active. For example, if a brand is targeting younger consumers, then it should focus on working with KOCs on platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou, which are popular among Gen Z and millennial consumers. Once brands have identified the relevant KOCs, they should approach them with an authentic and personalized message that resonates with their interests and values.

Lastly, brands should aim to build long-term relationships with KOCs. KOCs are more likely to work with brands that they have a genuine connection with over a sustained period. This requires brands to provide ongoing support and recognition, such as offering exclusive deals or hosting events that involve KOCs.

In conclusion, KOCs are the new buzzword in the Chinese marketing world. They offer a more authentic and cost-effective way for brands to reach their target audience and influence purchasing decisions. The rise of KOCs is a reflection of the changing consumer behavior in China, where trust and authenticity are highly valued. Brands that are able to build meaningful relationships with KOCs will be able to gain a competitive advantage in the Chinese market.