In China, influencers wield considerable influence over consumers’ purchasing choices, leveraging strong and authentic connections with their audiences to your advantage. KOLs, or Key Opinion Leaders, are individuals recognized as authorities in various fields. Such as technology, health, nutrition, education, parenting, travel, fitness, fashion, or financial investment. With a substantial following, they hold sway over audiences in areas where they are considered experts. But who are the top 5 Chinese KOLs in 2023?
Firstly, we have to say that KOLs typically fall into two main categories: Knowledge-sharing KOLs and Lifestyle KOLs.
Knowledge-sharing KOLs primarily focus on delivering information and insights within a specific niche. Whereas, Lifestyle KOLs, also known as entertainment KOLs, provide their audience with glimpses into their personal lives, unbox products, share outdoor activities, or showcase their talents. That’s why audiences develop emotional connections with the influencers they follow, fostering trust. A skilled KOL understands how to leverage this trust to actively engage their audience, shaping their perceptions of a brand. This is why these influencers have become the Top 5 Chinese KOLs of 2023 in the mainland.
Top 5 Chinese KOLs in 2023: Who are they?
Fang Qi Kiki (房琪kiki), travel KOL
Kiki is a former CCTV host that has consistently maintained her position as the most popular travel vlogger on Douyin in recent years.
Beginning her television career in 2015 as the host of CCTV’s travel series “Beautiful China Tour”, Kiki has since become a prominent figure on Chinese television. Given her initial fame as a TV travel show host, it’s unsurprising that Kiki has amassed a large following on Douyin for her travel-related vlogs.
However, her popularity on Douyin and RED is not solely attributed to her celebrity status. Kiki’s Douyin and RED feeds showcase meticulously curated content, featuring high-production-value short videos that delve into her travels to a specific destination in each post. When collaborating with brands, she seamlessly integrates product placements into her videos. And her brand collaborations span a wide range, from domestic companies to international ones, like Snickers.
Putuoshan Xiaoshuai (普陀山小帅), travel KOL
A professional tour guide by profession, Putuoshan Xiaoshuai ventured into travel vlogging during the pandemic. Having obtained his tour guide certificate in 2012, Xiaoshuai initially worked as a full-time professional tour guide for Mount Putuo in China’s Zhejiang Province. When the pandemic struck in 2020, Xiaoshuai decided to explore Douyin. Offering livestreamed tours of Mount Putuo and creating concise videos to enable audiences to experience the sights virtually. With his professionalism and extensive historical knowledge of the mountain, Xiaoshuai swiftly transitioned from an average tour guide account to becoming one of the top Douyin travel KOL.
Presently, Xiaoshuai’s content extends beyond Mount Putuo, encompassing travels to various historical landmarks across China. Where he provides in-depth guides on the cultural significance and history of each location. Xiaoshuai has also collaborated with various travel agencies and tourism boards from different cities. Furthermore, his video and livestream content feature advertisements for local specialty products.
Li Jiaqi (李佳琦), beauty KOL
Li Jiaqi, also known as Austin Li or the renowned “Lipstick King“, stands as the preeminent makeup Key Opinion Leader in China. With the unique ability to determine the fate of a lipstick’s success or failure in a matter of minutes, Li Jiaqi wields unparalleled influence in the Chinese makeup industry.
He earned the name of “Lipstick King” through his groundbreaking act of trying 380 lipsticks in a two-hour live streaming session.
His journey into the spotlight began with live streaming on Taobao (a Chinese e-commerce platform) in 2017, but it wasn’t until October or November 2019 that he experienced significant success. Back then, Li Jiaqi was working as a makeup assistant in a cosmetics store. Then, in February 2021, Li Jiaqi earned recognition as one of TIME’s next 100 emerging leaders globally.
Now millions of Chinese netizens eagerly follow his expert recommendations, relying on his insights to make informed choices when selecting their next makeup products.
Zola Zhang (原来是西门大嫂), fashion and beauty KOL
At the age of 35, Zola boasts a lengthy career as a Key Opinion Leader and spans various platforms, showcasing the evolution of China’s social media landscape.
Her KOL journey began in 2012 when a series of her photos went viral on Douban, instantly catapulting her to internet celebrity status. In 2015, Zola co-founded the company Youhuaguo with friends, establishing it as a content creator management firm. Simultaneously, she launched her official personal account on WeChat. Shortly after, her article titled “We Haven’t Traveled the World Yet” became a sensation, rapidly increasing her follower count on WeChat and Weibo.
While Zola initially focused on fashion in her content, she frequently shared insights on relationships and life. Resonating particularly with millennials transitioning into adulthood in first-tier cities. This unique approach helped her cultivate a dedicated fan base despite her classification as a fashion influencer. Zola ventured into short video content as early as 2017, successfully expanding her presence to Douyin.
Throughout her career, she has collaborated with major fashion and beauty brands, including Ports, Valentino, LV, and Guerlain.
Mr. Bags (包先生), fashion KOL
Liang Tao, renowned by the moniker Mr. Bags, has become a formidable presence in China’s luxury bag industry. His rapid ascent to fame, coupled with global recognition, is attributed to significant accomplishments, amassing a staggering following of over 7 million on social media. As the connoisseur, critic, and influential figure in the luxury bag realm, Mr. Bags commands the attention of the industry, where his every word carries weight.
In 2023, he stands as the most prominent Key Opinion Leader in China, extending his influence beyond bags. Through sharing insights into his personal life and professional endeavors, including business trips and collaborations with luxury bag brands, Mr. Bags transcends the role of a mere influencer. This personal touch not only adds authenticity to his online persona but also forges a deeper connection with his followers, making him relatable and resonant in the digital landscape.
In conclusion, the influencer marketing industry in China is expanding at an unprecedented rate, outpacing the growth observed anywhere else in the world. And these five KOLs have become the most influential in their fields by leveraging the ability to retain their followers. In fact, they exert significant influence on individuals’ choices when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
If your company is interested in working with Chinese KOLs, Long Advisory can help you get in touch with them to create the best strategy for your company.
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Long Advisory supports American and European companies in China through digital marketing. In fact, our experience has led us to believe that today, the best and most convenient approach to making your brand well-known in China is through a digital approach. Furthermore, thanks to our know-how, we know how to make your brand known to potential Chinese consumers. With the effective coordination of Long Advisory, your company will see a new rise in the largest market in the world: China.
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