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Resonating with Chinese consumers: Choosing the right social influencers and KOLs

This article is sponsored by iClick.

With more than 800 million social media users in China, multiple research has highlighted that social media and influencers play an important role in influencing a Chinese traveller’s itinerary.

Ranging from choice of restaurants to accommodation, these KOLs have a great say in the purchasing powers of Chinese consumers.

This is especially so for the 149 million Generation Z (born 1996 – 2010) consumers in China – a country which has one of the largest Gen Z consumers in the world. These digital natives spend 74% of their time on their digital devices, and 58% of them would prefer to leverage on information on social media, and even influencers, for their purchase decision-making.

Based on the “Influencer Marketing Hub Benchmark Report”, with the KOL marketing industry forecast to become a US$10 billion industry by 2020, it is expected that we will see more brands leveraging KOL/influencer marketing in China – one of the world’s biggest consumer markets.

Meanwhile, by 2022, the number of Chinese outbound trips is forecast to be more than 200 million.
With the rise of influencer marketing, outbound tourism in China is expected to see more KOL-consumer dynamism in the near future.

Looking at China’s unique social media landscape where global players such Instagram and Facebook have been edged out of the competition, how can marketers targeting the region stay in the competition?

In an attempt to uncover insights on the dynamic Chinese market, iClick held its China Digital Conference event on 18 October 2019 at PARKROYAL on Pickering Singapore with the theme of, “Reaching the new Chinese travellers through KOLs and influencer marketing”.

The conference successfully brought together hundreds of marketers looking to keep up with the rapidly evolving field of digital marketing in China, and the emerging consumption trends to reach Chinese outbound travellers.

Here’s a look at what went on:

Kick-starting the programme, Kelly Leung, VP of international business development at iClick Interactive, introduced some of the latest consumption trends of China’s digital market and discussed the rising influence of the new generation in China.

According to Leung, studies have showed that Gen Z consumption is expected to account for 40% of global consumption. In China, the average monthly spending of a typical Gen Z consumer has reached RMB 3,501.

She further shared experiences and practical tips by showcasing successful client campaigns. She pointed out the importance of laying out brand strategies to activate a social media presence, and increase visibility in China via smart collaboration with KOLs.

Annabel Lin, senior account manager of Qyer.com, then shared with the audience the perceptions of Chinese outbound tourist behaviour.

Based on Qyer’s latest study on Chinese travellers, about 70% of the population travel one to three times per year. It was mentioned Singapore is also a hot destination among Chinese travellers – especially for those with families and children.

Lin also showcased the Youth Plan Program, a hero campaign that encourages and supports the younger generations in China to chase after dreams around the globe.

Qyer.com’s first-hand data on the Chinese tourist study gave inspiring insights to the attendees and revealed the travel habits and consumption culture of frequent travellers.

Nikki Liu, the global marketing strategy manager at Beijing ByteDance, demonstrated a trend on Douyin (also known as TikTok outside of China), the popular short video mobile app with more than 500 million users in China.

Liu brought audiences into the world of Douyin and illustrated multiple insider tips on how to leverage the platform with suitable content and KOLs for a successful marketing campaign in the competitive environment of Douyin.

Meanwhile, John Lo, senior sales director of Baidu International, shared the important role of SEM in reaching out to Chinese tourists via Baidu’s digital marketing solutions.

The search data, related to Singapore, and shared by Lo, illustrated that 75.8% of Chinese prefer to use Baidu to search for travel information, with more than 100 million searches per month on travel-related keywords.

These results provided an unexpected insight into Chinese tourists which the delegates found interesting and useful to their future marketing strategies to target Chinese outbound tourists.

Taylor Wang, director of brand marketing solution at Little Red Book (RED, aka Xiaohongshu) highlighted several illuminating insights to drive brand recognition and foster cross-border sales with RED.

As one of the leading lifestyle-sharing communities and fastest growing platforms in China, RED has surged in popularity within China’s competitive social media landscape by maintaining quality and trustworthy reviews with an engaged community.

Transforming beyond a community forum, RED is a platform that marketers will keep an eye on, where its unique commercial ecosystem has created a new trend on social eCommerce in China.

Delegates were excited after the various sharing sessions and insightful discussions with digital gurus from China, especially on the untapped potential of KOL and influencer marketing combined with the local social media ecosystem.