One of the fastest and effective ways to raise brand awareness and increase your followers is to partner with popular KOLs in China. KOLs (short for Key Opinion Leaders) is a term used primarily in China, referring to famous social media influencers/celebrities.
KOLs can vary depending on their profession and line of work. But generally speaking, the majority of KOLs in China produce video content or livestream on China’s biggest online platforms. These platforms include Taobao (the biggest C2C e-commerce platform in China), Bilibili (China’s version of YouTube), and Douyin (TikTok).
The biggest KOLs in China are just like the social media influencers you find on Western social media platforms. You’ll be sure to stumble across a KOL that dominates each and every single niche and category that currently exists online.
To get an idea of the KOL landscape in China, this article will introduce some of the most popular KOLs in China. These KOLs will be introduced based on four major categories that particularly millennial and Gen Z online users consume – Fashion, Food, Fitness, and Gaming – which will also be discussed.
It can’t be emphasized enough that the modern Chinese consumer LOVES fashion. If you walk through the streets of downtown major cities like Shanghai, Beijing, or Shenzhen, you will see an abundance of avant-garde fashion styles from experimental, vintage, to streetwear.
As a result, you can imagine that the fashion industry in China is very lucrative and competitive. You can find luxury European fashion houses like Gucci and Chanel building more and more stores across China, and of course they are present on China’s biggest e-commerce apps like Tmall, JD, and WeChat.
But that isn’t to say that the majority of Chinese consumers purchase luxury fashion. In fact, the majority of consumers purchase clothing from Chinese brands such as Urban Revivo, and smaller local Chinese brands that you can only find on Taobao.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest KOLs within fashion that have influenced the purchase decision of many netizens.
Li Jiaqi 李佳琦
Li Jiaqi (or Austin Li) is by far the most popular and influential e-commerce livestreamer and KOL in China. He was initially famous for reviewing beauty products, but now reviews and recommends all types of products from fashion to kitchen utensils.
Li Jiaqi exclusively livestreams daily on Taobao, and has over 62 million followers! Millions of his followers tune into his livestreams religiously to see what juicy discounts and sales are on offer. Li Jiaqi’s influence is so profound, that many users wholeheartedly trust his judgment and expertise when it comes to recommending worthwhile products.
Zhang Dayi 张大奕
Zhang Dayi (or Eve) is a popular fashion KOL with over 12 million followers on Taobao, and has a distinct selling point. Zhang Dayi only livestreams and reviews her own products! That’s because she owns her own fashion brand, named Zhang Dayi. Prior to this, she had already been a famous ‘Wanghong’ (influencer) and people look up to Zhang for fashion advice and the latest seasonal looks.
Given China’s geographical size, there is so much variety of food native to each province and ethnic group dotted around the country. Naturally, online users are always curious about knowing the most unique and latest dishes that are popping up in China. So they turn to video sharing sites like Bilibili or Douyin, to watch popular food vloggers document their adventures across China trying the latest and greatest dishes.
The food industry is also popular because of photo ops. The modern Chinese person loves to take pictures, videos, and share them on social media. Food that visually looks aesthetically pleasing or even bizarre will attract followers. Moreover, restaurants are increasingly looking at ways to differentiate themselves. They achieve this by designing the exterior and interior of their restaurants in a style that is eye-catching – leaving customers no choice but to take a photo.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest foodie KOLs.
Mianyang liaoli 绵羊料理
Mianyang liaoli (translated as Sheep Cuisine) is a popular food vlogger with over 9 million followers on Bilibili. Have you ever been to a restaurant and left feeling absolutely satisfied, wondering ‘How on earth did they make that dish?’
Well, Mianyang liaoli’s appeal is that she meticulously recreates the most famous and trending Chinese dishes in her kitchen. So if you’ve got a famous Chinese dish in mind that you’ve always wanted to recreate, why not browse through her videos? You might stumble across it.
Dao yue she 盗月社
Dao yue she (translated as Steal the Moon Society) started as two regular people night crawling through their city searching for late night tasty snacks (hence their channel name). The duo, with over 6 million followers on Bilibili, now travel across China searching for the best food that each city offers.
If you’ve visited China, you may have noticed that fitness is a huge part of Chinese culture. China’s large size means that everyday, Chinese people spend a lot of time walking and cycling from A to B. Elderly people also meet up regularly outdoors to take part in tai chi, dancing, and overall any form of physical activity. Gym culture however is a relatively new culture that is getting more and more popular in China.
If you’re a beginner looking to get in shape and get advice, you’re probably going to stumble across one of these famous fitness KOLs.
Zhou liu ye 周六野
Zhou liu ye (or Zoey) is one of the most popular fitness KOLs in China. She inspires millions of her followers to get fit, and posts many videos such as aerobics and body part workouts. Zoey also posts videos about her daily life. Partnered with the fact that she has over 9 million followers on Bilibili, Zoey is a great partner for brands looking to target multiple consumer bases.
Pamela Reif is a German fitness blogger who is not based in China. Interestingly, she has skyrocketed in popularity in the past two years, and currently has over 7 million followers on Bilibili. Similar to Zoey, Pamela posts short and sweet fitness workouts from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.
The gaming industry in China continues to skyrocket. Netizens love to play and watch their favorite livestreamers play the latest games. So how did this culture grow so quickly in China?
Well, there were notable game changers. In 2015, Tencent (the developer of WeChat) purchased Riot Games, an American games publisher that produced League of Legends. Since then, League of Legends has become the most popular game amongst Chinese gamers. So much so that Chinese eSports teams have gone on to win major League of Legends tournaments, such as Edward Gaming in 2021.
The two primary platforms that online users visit to either livestream or watch livestreamers are Huya and Douyu, which combine to make up 70% of the gaming livestreaming market share. Some gaming KOLs exclusively livestream on these platforms, but Weibo and Bilibili are also used to livestream.
Take a look at some of the most popular gaming KOLs below:
Pdd_liumou is a popular gamer, commentator, and online personality who is beloved by fans for his funny personality and humor. He currently has over 7 million followers on Weibo, and posts a variety of gaming-related content and video skits.
Misaya若风lol is a professional eSports athlete, and rose to internet fame after leading his team WE to China’s first League of Legends Championship victory. Nuo feng (his real name) has over 10 million followers on Weibo, and has partnered with big companies such as Adidas and NBA.
Now that you have an idea of the KOL landscape in China, which KOLs interest you the most? There are millions of KOLs that replicate these famous internet celebrities, with a smaller but still impactful follower base.
What are you waiting for? Partner with a KOL with Gab China’s help. Book a free consultation with us now.