China Insights

Right KOL is better than big star

Linda Xu

Chief Client Officer, Head of Research & Consulting

Social 28.09.2017 / 08:00

Social Cloud 2 col

Even the biggest star won’t be able to lift every brand. Niche brand can also find a decent image ambassador. Data from social media can be your guidance.

As Internet (especially smartphone) keeps expanding its reach in China, key opinion leaders have become pivotal to many marketing campaigns. They have added characters to brands, generated stories to boost fan engagement and convert marketing spending into quick sales results.

In China, key opinions include three types: celebrities, experts and wanghongs (mostly good-looking young women working as hosts at social media and video livestreaming platforms).

Kantar Media CIC’s long-term monitoring of social media has found that in China, the relationship between celebrities and brands is evolving: from celebrities joining marketing campaigns of brands, to celebrities jointly develop campaigns with brands, to eventually brands joining campaigns initiated by top celebrities. Big stars, especially top notch A-list stars, are making the calls in the partnership with brands.

Chinese actor/singer Lu Han (鹿晗) is one of the most active stars in China in working with brands. His role was not just limited to be part of a campaign designed by brands. In May, 2017, Coca Cola and Lu jointly launched a campaign especially for his fans: Lu Han-theme pop-up Coca Cola stores, Coke bottles with Lu’s iconic antlers (because Lu’s family name means deer in Chinese), a postal box with antler and Lu’s poster (Lu in April 2016 posted a selfie with a postal box at The Bund of Shanghai, and it became an instant popular scenic spot among his fans). This campaign combines celebrity endorsement with star themed products and offline promotion events with a closure date. It effectively attracted Lu’s fans to participate the campaign, share the buzz and dig into their pockets.

Lu Han And Coke

Kantar Media CIC social listening data showed that fans are very active in supporting their idol by participating the campaign and buying brand products.

Lu Han Tweet Coke

Coke Tweet Lu Han

Kantar Media CIC Weibo monitoring data showed many fan groups were powerful in spreading the message. They boosted the travel distance of the social post as well as the eventual sales.

Lu Han Coke tweet travel path 

As Lu helped brands achieve one successful campaign after another, he started to leverage his “fan power” by initiating his own campaigns. For example, he had launched “Make a Wish” campaigns for two years (2015 and 2016): he invited fans to publish their wishes on Weibo with the hashtag of #鹿晗愿望季# (Lu Han’s Make a Wish Season) and also introduced brands to help realize fans’ wishes.

Health Matrix 

NSR* (Net Sentiment Rate) analysis of participating brands of "Make a Wish" campaign 2016

From a brand perspective, as top stars are more inclined to take control of market campaigns, brands should learn to work not only with the biggest stars, but also the most suitable stars to make sure brands still make all the calls.

Kantar Media CIC has developed its Celebrity Pulse Index 2.0 system to analyse many celebrities’ popularity trend and engagement quality with fans by reviewing their performances in social media buzz, search trend and media reporting. The service can reveal each star’s buzz volume, word cloud, fans interests in them, hot post analysis, etc. With the support of these data, we can provide rationale advices on each star’s value to different brands.

Celebrity Pulse Index 2.0

For example, Kantar Media CIC has summarized Weibo users’ comments about young actress Diliraba (迪丽热巴) into this word cloud, which showed that she was well recognized for her easy-going character and cute personality. This means that she could be an ideal celebrity image ambassador for brands targeting young consumers.

CN Diliraba

In June 2017, Adidas sub-brand NEO announced that they had signed Diliraba as their image ambassador. Kantar Media CIC Weibo monitoring data showed that the announcement post garnered at least 108 million impressions and retweeted as many as seven times.

Adidas Neo Announcement 

Neo Post Travel Map

For key opinion leaders other than celebrities, Kantar Media CIC created a pool of more than 6,000 experts and wanghongs who are active on social media. Based on the measurement of their exposure, fans sentiment towards them, influence and level of engagement, Kantar Media CIC created an “Enfluencer Radar Index” to help select suitable KOLs for brands.

EN Enfluencer Radar Full

Kantar Media CIC believes that only through long-term and systematic data monitoring, could brands find the KOLs that fit their brand image, have influence among their targeted audiences and create reliable and meaningful return for their investment in “star power”.

Source: Kantar Media CIC

Editor's notes

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