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What are KOL and KOC Marketing in China?

Influencer marketing,China marketing guides
What are KOL and KOC marketing in China?

Knowing what KOL (Key Opinion Leader) and what KOC (Key Opinion Consumer) are is essential to break into the Chinese market. These two terms, which, as we will see, refer to two types of influencers, have become increasingly important in the marketing strategies of any business interested in having a presence in the Chinese market.

Therefore, knowing what KOL and KOC are is essential knowledge for effective social media marketing in China. In addition to discussing the specifics of each, we will also look at the main differences between the two.

KOL marketing and KOC marketing have become increasingly important in the overall marketing strategies of any company that wants to promote their business in China and successfully penetrate the Chinese market

Table of Contents

1. What is KOL in China?

KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) are influencers in China whose opinions and lifestyles are highly influential in the purchasing decisions of Chinese consumers. This is because they are considered wise and knowledgeable on Chinese social networks, so their recommendations are perceived as authentic.

Their main function is to increase a brand’s visibility and sales of its products and services. They achieve this thanks to their position, the huge follower base they have and the trust placed in them.

KOLs are social media celebrities, who are specialized in a certain sector or topic, so their recommendations and opinions are considered genuine and impartial.

The main function of KOLs in China is to increase the visibility of a brand, improve its reputation and branding, which they achieve thanks to the influence they carry within their communities and large base of followers

What are KOL and KOC marketing in China?

KOLs on Chinese social networks

Now that we have covered what KOLs are and their main functions, let’s take a look at the importance of KOLs on Chinese social networks. KOLs exert their influence on the main Chinese social networks, such as WeChatWeibo, Little Red Book, Douyin or Kuaishou, where they promote products and services of brands with which they collaborate in various ways.

Another way for KOLs to promote themselves on Chinese social networks is through live broadcasts, a tool that has become very popular in recent years, known as live streaming

KOLs can promote products through live streams, where users can purchase directly from the stream on TikTok or Kuaishou

KOLs on Chinese social networks

Key factors for KOLs

We now know what KOLs are, what they do, their presence on social networks and their importance for the effective marketing of a business interested in tapping into the Chinese market. Let’s now take a look at some key facts about key opinion leaders in China.

  1. When collaborating with KOLs in China, it is essential to keep in mind that there is a big difference between Western and Chinese platforms, so it will be necessary to adapt your influencer marketing strategy to the Chinese market.
  2. In-depth knowledge of the main Chinese social networks (Douyin, Xiaohongshu, Toutiao, Kuaishou, WeChat, etc.) is essential for an effective campaign.
  3. It is crucial to analyze the trends in KOL collaborations that are emerging in the Chinese market thoroughly.
  4. When you are looking to engage in influencer marketing in China, keep in mind that many of these influencers may have fake followers, so you need to examine the interaction generated by the KOL’s content before making a misstep.
  5. It is important to try to avoid collaborating with a key opinion leader in China who is already endorsing several brands, to ensure that your brand has sufficient visibility.
  6.  It is imperative to have a clear and concise campaign briefing, providing detailed information to the KOL on objectives, content requirements, guidelines on what products or services you want to promote, and how.

Before starting a collaboration with a Chinese KOL, you should take into account important aspects such as: the difference between Western and Chinese platforms, characteristics of Chinese social networks, market trends, "fake KOLs" and make sure you have a clear briefing

Key factors - KOLs

2. What are KOCs in China?

It is true that KOLs in China have established themselves as an important social media marketing tool, but in recent years there has been a shift from KOLs to the use of KOCs (Key Opinion Consumers) in marketing strategies in the Chinese market

The main reason is that KOCs are considered to be more reliable than KOLs and have greater persuasive power than major influencers.

KOCs (Key Opinion Consumers) are consumers who personally promote a company’s products through their reviews. In their choices, they tend to be very selective about what they are willing to recommend and review as reliable and trustworthy information. 

Although most of them do not have a very high number of followers, especially compared to KOLs, they are essential for consumers to make purchasing decisions, in addition to the fact that ordinary people identify more easily with them than with KOLs.

What are KOCs in China?

KOCs (Key Opinion Consumers) are consumers who personally promote products through reviews. They are considered more trustworthy than KOLs, with a smaller but more loyal community and, in recent years, are undergoing a remarkable growth in influencer marketing in China

Steps to leverage KOC marketing in China

To leverage KOC partnerships in China, brands have a number of ways to reach the target audience and exponentially increase sales, a goal they can achieve by following a few simple but important steps:

  1. Define your objectives: the goal of collaboration with a KOC is to increase sales and build a reputation, given their high power of conviction, so it is more important to select an influencer with relevance to the company than one with a large following that is not as profitable. 
  2. Choose the right platforms: Chinese social networks, such as Little Red Book, Weibo or Douyin, effectively promote KOC content through their complex algorithms, so brands can make use of these platforms to leverage user-generated content and KOCs.
  3. Prepare your products and services: before starting the collaboration, make sure your products are in top condition. 
  4. Expert guidance: Those with expertise in influencer marketing in China can help you with the implementation of your strategy. For this, InfluChina, a social media agency that is dedicated to promoting tourism to businesses through strategic collaborations with influencers, is a smart choice.  
  5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on Chinese social networks: In this case, the most attractive and effective social networks are Xiaohongshu, WeChat, Toutiao and Weibo. 
  6. Boost the reputation and credibility of the brand or product through personalized reviews with high persuasive power, for example on Dianping, a social network whose most prominent feature is user reviews and recommendations.
Steps to leverage KOC marketing in China

In order to receive professional guidance on penetrating the Chinese market, InfluChina is a wise choice to help you implement the best possible influencer marketing strategy

Types of KOC marketing

As for the types of KOC marketing, there are different kinds, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some of these are:

  • Superuser-generated content: Superusers are people with high brand loyalty and active online presence. They tend to be interested in sharing innovative and creative ideas, so brands can leverage them to increase their visibility and engagement in the Chinese market.
  • Create a persona that acts as a KOC: This is a strategy with a creative approach, where a relatable and authentic character is created, who shares their day-to-day life, interests, care, routines, etc. on Chinese platforms.

There are mainly two types of KOC marketing: Superuser-generated content and the creation of a character that acts as a real KOC

3. Differences between KOL and KOC

To visualize the differences between KOLs and KOCs, a summary can be found in this concise table.



Who they are

Social media experts with large follower base

Consumers who promote, personally, products and services


To increase a brand's visibility, sales and brand awareness

To offer personalized and personal reviews

Ideal for

Brands that want visibility and reach

Brands that want conversion


Great reach and defined niche

People identify with them and greater reliability


Less credibility. Higher cost.

Lower reach. Requires collaboration with several profiles to generate impact.

Number of followers



4. Conclusions

Now we have a better understanding of what KOL and KOC are in China, as well as the great significance they hold for any company that wants to successfully enter the Chinese market, the most profitable market of all.

Differences between KOL and KOC

If you are interested in strategic partnerships with KOLs in China or Chinese KOCs, you can contact InfluChina via hello@influchina.es, a social media agency that is dedicated to encouraging Chinese consumers to visit foreign businesses through strategic partnerships with Chinese influencers.


Frequently Asked Questions about KOLs and KOCs

KOL stands for Key Opinion Leader. KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) are Chinese influencers whose opinions and lifestyles are highly influential in the purchasing decisions of Chinese consumers. 

KOCs (Key Opinion Consumers) are consumers who personally promote brand products through their reviews.

The main difference between KOLs and KOCs is that KOLs are influencers and have more reach but are less credible, and KOCs are consumer opinion leaders, so they have smaller but more loyal communities.

If you are interested in strategic collaborations with KOLs or KOCs, you can contact InfluChina.

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