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3 Lessons To Learn From Chinese Influencer Marketing

Chinese brands are among the most sophisticated in the world when it comes to adoption of influencer marketing. According to a McKinsey study in 2019, 25 percent of respondents in China said they had made a purchase directly through a social channel (versus 15 percent globally). The impact and pervasiveness of mobile is re-writing a lot of rules for marketers in the country. Below are 3 areas that contribute to a company’s success through influencer marketing.

1. The growing influence of micro-influencers

Increasingly, Chinese brands are opting to work with people who are not famous celebrities but have an established social media presence; good personality and presentation skills; and personal/professional interests that align with the brand. These lower-tier influencers may have less followers than singers, actors and models, but their appeal lies in their ability to respond to messages from followers more frequently. As a result, they can support brands to communicate greater authenticity and seem more real.

For instance, Chinese fashion brand Semir recently launched the ‘what to wear tomorrow’ campaign and picked Ting Wu, a fashion magazine editor, to promote the campaign instead of more famous influencers on Weibo or WeChat. Ting’s post about the campaign led to over 3,000 shares; the hashtag #明天穿什么 (what to wear tomorrow) appeared up to 530 million times.

2. Growing Key Opinion Customers through messaging apps

Mobile-centric marketing development is rapidly rising, and KOCs are a huge focus of marketers’ strategies. By leveraging messaging platforms like WeChat, companies are able to identify superfans (who already buy their product and telling their friends) to help them evangelise their brands. Beauty brands such as Perfect Diary are building their follower base by creating WeChat groups of KOCs to share brand news, and entrusting them to drive the distribution of news, promotions and other peripheral materials through their respective private channels.

3. Engaging KOLs as partners

China’s brands are seeing KOLs differently from that in many other markets, as it views the relationship as a long-term partnership instead of short-lived transactions. As more and more consumers seek product advice from leading social media voices, many brands are even engaging KOLs on product development and collaboration.

A prime example is the ever-present Mr. Bags, one of the most famous influencers in China. Commanding millions of followers in numerous social channels, Mr. Bags has collaborated with everyone from Givenchy to Chloe and Dunhill on exclusive, limited edition handbags. Such collaborations not only drive business sales; a closer relationship with these high-profile influencers will often help strengthen brand perception among their fans, and ultimately attract more consumers to connect with their brands and products.


Adrian Fu is Icicle Group's Communications and External Affairs Director. He is a multi-disciplined professional with over 20 years of experience in corporate and technology industry brand marketing. He is also an award-winning songwriter and recording artist, with Mandarin and Cantonese albums to his name. Adrian is an avid reader and a student of meditation.


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