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Attitudes towards KOLs - China - October 2019

“With the rapid growth of social media influencers and development of MCN agencies, the KOL industry is going through a professionalization process and the KOL industry and market will be more competitive. The diversification of KOLs and social media followers will push the fragmentation of the KOL market but it will benefit brands by enabling the most suitable KOLs to speak to the heart of the right audience.”
- Chih-yuan Wang, Category Director

This report will look at the following areas:

  • KOLs as marketing partner and marketing content producer
  • Use KOLs to make brands more approachable
  • Professionalization and decentralization

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • Market landscape
            • Proliferation of MCN agencies
              • The impact of live streaming e-commerce
                • Influencer analysis
                  • Treat KOLs as advertising partners instead of advertising channels
                    • Building emotional connection with fans
                      • The fine line between sponsored content and sincere recommendation
                        • The consumer
                          • Social media as source of information than entertainment
                            • Figure 1: Categories followed on social media, May 2019 (China), December 2018 (US)
                          • Young female cannot live without social media
                            • Figure 2: Categories followed on social media, by gender and age, May 2019
                          • WeChat leads but TikTok is catching up quickly
                            • Figure 3: Favourite social media platforms to follow bloggers or public accounts, May 2019
                          • Celebrity culture rules in US, useful content rocks in China
                            • Figure 4: Key characters of social media influencers, May 2019 (China), December 2018 (US)
                          • Families/friends still important, but KOL have influence in travel, tech, fashion, and beauty and personal care
                            • Figure 5: social media influencers impact on purchase, May 2019
                          • KOLs are more influential among young female consumers
                            • Figure 6: difference in impact on purchase by family/friends and public accounts/bloggers on social media, by selected age and gender, May 2019
                          • Finding new products and credibility are the key
                            • Figure 7: Purchase drivers of social media influencers, May 2019
                          • Trust lies in being successful and intelligent
                            • Figure 8: Purchase drivers of social media influencers, by key characters of KOLs looking for, May 2019
                          • Ambivalent attitudes towards KOLs
                            • Figure 9: Attitudes towards trust issues of KOLs, May 2019
                          • The importance of micro influencers is on the rise
                            • Figure 10: Attitudes towards macro and micro influencers of KOLs, May 2019
                          • Build relatedness and emotional connection with followers
                            • Figure 11: Attitudes towards proximity of KOLs, May 2019
                          • What we think
                          • Issues and Insights

                            • KOLs as marketing partner and marketing content producer
                              • The facts
                                • The implications
                                  • Use KOLs to make brands more approachable
                                    • The facts
                                      • The implications
                                        • Professionalization and decentralization
                                          • The facts
                                            • The implications
                                            • Market Landscape

                                              • Professionalization of KOLs
                                                • Proliferation of MCN agencies
                                                  • The impact of commercializing KOLs
                                                    • The impact of live streaming e-commerce
                                                    • Influencer Analysis

                                                      • Introduction
                                                        • Key takeout
                                                          • Treat KOLs as advertising partners instead of advertising channels
                                                            • Building emotional connection with fans
                                                              • The fine line between sponsored content and sincere recommendation
                                                                • KOL story one: Lin Haiyin, influential photographer on Weibo
                                                                  • From college sweetheart to Weibo KOL
                                                                    • Deep collaboration with brands
                                                                      • Honesty and authenticity
                                                                        • Figure 12: Internet personality Lin Haiyin
                                                                      • KOL story two: Tree Tree Wu, self-taught make-up vlogger on Weibo and Bilibili
                                                                        • From content writer to influential makeup artist
                                                                          • My fans are my friends
                                                                            • Social media and MCN
                                                                              • KOL and advertisement
                                                                                • Figure 13: Internet personality Tree Tree Wu
                                                                                • Figure 14: Internet personality Tree Tree Wu
                                                                              • KOL story three: Ice_cook, pastime lifestyle blogger on Red
                                                                                • From RED user to RED influencer
                                                                                  • Relationship with fans
                                                                                    • Brands and advertisement
                                                                                      • Negative feedback? That is the problem
                                                                                        • KOL industry and future
                                                                                          • Figure 15: Micro influencer Ice_cook
                                                                                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                        • Social media functions as an important source of information
                                                                                          • WeChat and Weibo remain leaders in KOL market
                                                                                            • Give me useful content
                                                                                              • Word-of-mouth still rules
                                                                                                • Find the best new things
                                                                                                  • Ambivalent attitudes towards KOLs
                                                                                                  • Categories Followed on Social Media

                                                                                                    • Social media as source of information rather than entertainment
                                                                                                      • Figure 16: Categories followed on social media, May 2019 (China), December 2018 (US)
                                                                                                    • Travel is trendy while beauty and fashion are associated with lifestyle and entertainment
                                                                                                      • Figure 17: Categories followed on social media, by categories followed on social media, May 2019
                                                                                                    • Lower tier cities are more into entertainment and art and culture
                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Categories followed on social media, by city tier, May 2019
                                                                                                    • Young female consumers are social media fanatics
                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Categories followed on social media, by gender and age, May 2019
                                                                                                  • Popular Social Media Platforms

                                                                                                    • TikTok is catching up with the leading platforms
                                                                                                      • Figure 20: Favourite social media platforms to follow bloggers or public accounts, May 2019
                                                                                                    • Entertainment and culture-based social media, and video based social media
                                                                                                      • Figure 21: Cross analysis of TikTok, Zhihu, RED, Bilibili, Douban, Overseas social media, Douyu, and Guokr
                                                                                                    • Red has a stronger influence among Tier 1 city female consumers
                                                                                                      • Figure 22: Favourite social media platforms to follow bloggers or public accounts, by city tier and gender, May 2019
                                                                                                    • Zhihu and Bilibili build on identity and loyalty
                                                                                                        • Figure 23: Favourite social media platforms to follow bloggers or public accounts, by gender and age, May 2019
                                                                                                      • Leaders in content
                                                                                                        • Figure 24: Favourite social media topics, by popular social media platforms, May 2019
                                                                                                    • Key Characters of Social Media Influencers

                                                                                                      • Practicality first, edginess last
                                                                                                        • Figure 25: Key characters of social media influencers, May 2019 (China), December 2018 (US)
                                                                                                      • Personality wins in US; useful product content wins in China
                                                                                                        • Fun and successful in the field are vital to attract 20s
                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Key characters of social media influencers, by gender and age, May 2019
                                                                                                      • Social Media Influencers vs Families and Friends

                                                                                                        • Families/friends still lead recommendation in many sectors; travel, tech, fashion and BPC see the strongest KOL influence
                                                                                                          • Figure 27: social media influencers impact on purchase, May 2019
                                                                                                        • Sports and fitness see KOLs slightly more powerful than families/friends
                                                                                                          • Rethink about KOL marketing in travel, technology, and BPC KOLs
                                                                                                            • Figure 28: Difference in impact on purchase by family/friends and public accounts/bloggers on social media, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Young female consumers are more susceptible to KOLs
                                                                                                            • Figure 29: difference in impact on purchase by family/friends and public accounts/bloggers on social media, by selected age and gender, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Fans of art and culture are target audience of KOL marketing
                                                                                                            • Figure 30: Difference in impact on purchase by family/friends and public accounts/bloggers on social media, by beauty and fashion followers and art and culture followers, May 2019
                                                                                                        • Reasons to Purchase

                                                                                                          • New and trustworthy are all that counts
                                                                                                            • Figure 31: Purchase drivers of social media influencers, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Trust of KOLs among young consumers
                                                                                                            • Figure 32: Purchase drivers of social media influencers, By age May 2019
                                                                                                          • Successful and intelligent are key for trustworthy
                                                                                                            • Figure 33: Purchase drivers of social media influencers, by key characters of KOLs looking for, May 2019
                                                                                                        • Attitudes towards Social Media Influencers

                                                                                                          • Polarised views on credibility of KOLs
                                                                                                            • Figure 34: Attitudes towards trust issues of KOLs, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Macro-influencers vs Micro-influencers – finding my own favourite
                                                                                                            • Figure 35: Attitudes towards macro and micro influencers, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Micro-influencer followers are more into non-mainstream
                                                                                                            • Figure 36: Categories followed on social media, by attitudes towards micro influencers, May 2019
                                                                                                            • Figure 37: Favourite social media platforms to follow bloggers or public accounts, by attitudes towards small KOLs, May 2019
                                                                                                            • Figure 38: Agrees of the statements about trust issues of KOLs, by attitudes towards small KOLs, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Relatedness and emotional connection – the projection of self-image
                                                                                                            • Figure 39: Attitudes towards proximity of KOLs, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Strong bond between micro-influencer followers
                                                                                                            • Figure 40: Agrees of the statements about trust issues of KOLs, by attitudes towards micro influencers, May 2019
                                                                                                        • Meet the Mintropolitans

                                                                                                          • Beauty, fashion, and art to engage young Mintropolitans
                                                                                                            • Figure 41: Categories followed on social media, by consumer classification, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Young Mintropolitans are more into knowledge-based social media
                                                                                                            • Figure 42: Favourite social media platforms to follow bloggers or public accounts, by consumer classification, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Professional appeals to Mintropolitans most
                                                                                                            • Figure 43: Key characters of social media influencers, by consumer classification, May 2019
                                                                                                          • KOLs are important to Mintropolitans
                                                                                                            • Figure 44: Difference in impact on purchase by family/friends and public accounts/bloggers on social media, by consumer classification, May 2019
                                                                                                          • KOLs and internet celebrities more appealing to Mintropolitans
                                                                                                            • Figure 45: Attitudes towards trust issues of KOLs, by consumer classification, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Micro influencers also appeal to Mintropolitans
                                                                                                            • Figure 46: Attitudes towards macro and micro influencers, by consumer classification, May 2019
                                                                                                          • Celebrity still inspires Mintropolitans
                                                                                                            • Figure 47: Attitudes towards proximity of KOLs, by consumer classification, May 2019
                                                                                                            • Figure 48: Purchase drivers of social media influencers, by consumer classification, May 2019
                                                                                                        • Appendix – Methodology and Abbreviations

                                                                                                          • Methodology
                                                                                                            • Abbreviations

                                                                                                            Attitudes towards KOLs - China - October 2019

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