Influencer marketing is booming and quite different in China. This year, the country’s influencer economy is estimated at $17.16 billion. A lot of foreign brands who often rely on influencers in China, may ask what is the difference between ‘wang hong’ and Kols in China?

Today let’s talk about the difference between these two groups of people and their strengths.

The Dark Side of Being a Wanghong in China

wanghong’ are not bloggers, but influencers who have grown their audiences around the ideals of confidence, diversity, and acceptance and who have incredible sway over their fans’ purchasing decisions. They are also known as a lifestyle guru, they can be powerful in influencing the buying behavior of their social media followers and others.

Wang hong( Web Celebrity) is Chinese influencer who has lots of followers, but they do not need to be seen as a content expert. Instead, they influence a customer’ decision due to their looks or their sense of humor. As Chinese followers have become familiar with this new type of influencer, their audience’s content expectation has risen which has to lead to higher quality content.

Their followers are usually from tier 2-3 cities who are following a massive trend in the fashion and cosmetics industries, they want to have fun online and get inspiration on how to look great. For their audience, these influencers are a kind of online star, someone who is more approachable. They feel closer and more personable.

Chinese KOLs making real cash

KOLs (key opinion leaders) are the equivalent of social media influencers in China. Chinese KOLs are socialites, columnists, and short video creators and have various Chinese platforms through which they communicate with their followers.

They are rising in popularity because of online to offline(O2O) marketing. KOLs show the ability to widening a brand’s audience and increasing brand awareness, drawing customers from online channels to physical stores to make purchases.

The KOL strategy in China targets individuals of the post-80s to 00s generation who live in all type of cities. Chinese Consumers decide on who to follow based on the KOL’s type of content and topic.

KOLs Vs Wanghong

In the absence of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which are banned in China, KOLs and Wanghong use platforms like WeChat and Weibo, social networking service Douban and video platform Douyin. KOLs on Little Red Book(Xiaohongshu) mostly share personal stories, testimonials, product review, or even live-streams.

There is some debate about whether KOLs and Wanghong are the same thing and, for the most part, they are. But there is one key difference between a key opinion leader and an influencer. Where influencers operate online, making their name and wielding their influence on Chinese social media, KOLs are the “go-to” people for their subject of expertise and operate both online on social platforms as well as in traditional media.

Chinese customers want brands to uplift them instead of tearing them down. Influencers are listening to consumers, using images that haven’t been airbrushed, incorporating models of all shapes and sizes, and changing their messaging. They have reoriented their advertising to tell consumers that the purpose of buying nice clothes and using makeup is to enhance their natural beauty.

Chinese Influencers have played a crucial role in this movement, developing robust consumer communities committed to diversity, acceptance, and confidence. Many Chinese KOLs actively posting about almost any topic. Sports, video games, fashion, food, traveling, luxury goods, cars, etc.

KOLs can have millions of followers who follow their advice and actively engage with the content they create. Their influence can be used to help create significant buzz for brands and their products.

The Benefits of KOL or Wanghong marketing

If you want to be successful in China, brands should be aware of cultural differences. Brands who typically focus on body positive messaging have to rethink their approach in China.

  • Chinese influencers with online shops are able to convert their fan base into customers for these online retailing businesses. Little Red Book(Xiaohongshu) is an amazing example of this as the social media platform surged to popularity in China by maintaining quality and trustworthy reviews with an engaged community.
  • Chinese Influencers greatly influence their customer’s decision to buy as they feel as if they can relate more to products created by regular people who have a large number of followers compared to other celebrities in China.
  • Chinese influencers have a strong relationship with their fan base and interact with them often. They learn what they like and dislike about similar products and incorporate this feedback into the creation of their own products.
  • With the Chinese social media advertising model, Chinese Influencers work with western brands to advertise the brand’s products and services to their fanbase. They create engaging content that will inspire their high number of followers to purchase products from the brands.

The Chinese influencers economy is gaining more traction as consumers become more aware of what they want to get out of advertisements. Chinese influencers are set to completely take over the online retailing business through their digital marketing campaigns. They continue to be a new frontier for businesses and Chinese consumers alike.

For more information about the cost per engagement, the right Chinese KOL profiles in different industries and other Influencer marketing strategies related questions please contact us! We would love to provide you information to help to level up your business in China.