KOL Marketing: Effective or not ?

Are Key Opinion Leaders worth a slice of your China marketing budget? For a few years now, KOLs have become a real part of influencer marketing. They are numerous and powerful. Do you need to ask yourself if a KOL can be useful for your business? Most of the brands called on KOL because they are an effective tool to do business. Because they are more and more numerous and powerful, they are more and more expensive.


KOLs are often Chinese celebrities, popular social media users, experts on a specific subject, columnists, socialites, fashionistas, or bloggers … They have created viral content and developed a community around them. They have a lot of followers because their content is quality and knowledgeable. They post on various social media websites on all types of different topics: sports, video games, fashion, food, traveling, luxury goods, cars, etc. They provide advice, instructions, and feedback to their followers and users love them because they trust KOLs more than brands.

The power of KOLs needs to be understood if you want to do business in China. Working together with them can help create significant buzz for your company or your products.

All over the world, you have the same phenomenon on Youtube. On Youtube, you have a lot of influencers – as we call them in our western countries – who have millions of followers. A lot of brands have used them to advertise on the web, and it’s really successful. Influencers and KOLs are very similar. So, do you understand why they are so important?

Read our KOLs Guide for China


Papi Jiang

Papi Jiang (Jiang Yilei) is in China a superstar. Even if in the past, she had troubles with government censors, she is very famous with over 40 million followers. She works with a lot of brands of different sizes. A huge brand like New Balance and smaller brands like Lilly&Beauty paid a whopping 3.5 million/USD to be the first business to place an ad in one of her videos. She was selected as the most famous person of the year in 2016 in China. With all her contracts and followers, she is a powerful influencer all over the world.

Ma Jianguo

Ma Jianguo is also a famous Chinese KOL. He shares moments of the lives of his pets: a dog named 妞妞 and a cat 端午. He shares some GIFS and pictures of his animal’s lives and became very popular in China. Figures are here, he generates more than 10 million RMB in revenue a year, just with web advertising. He also helps some articles to highlight his pets and some products and generate a big buzz for brands.


KOLs in China are very influential and powerful. They can help businesses advertise their products through product placement and feedback. Because, they are not celebrities, Chinese consumers trust them more than traditional advertisements. The average consumer trust KOLs because they are people like them. That’s why they have such power.

You have to know that traditional advertising methods available on WeChat or Weibo are not as effective as KOLs to promote products. Besides, it’s a very expensive expense for your company and not very effective. KOLs have access to massive audiences and they can provide a good message to their communities to advertise your products or brand. But, you need to be careful in selecting the right KOL.


Finding your KOL can be difficult. Each KOL has its own community made of people of different demographics, psychographics, and lifestyle preferences. You have first of all to find the KOL who can represent you as best as possible. Developing a clear KOL strategy of who exactly you would like to receive your message is crucial prior to making your selection.

You need to work together with your KOLs to come up with advertising strategies that can maintain the authenticity of the KOL while at the same time promoting your product or company.

Some businesses think that choosing a KOL you just have to contact the KOL with the biggest audience. But it’s not true because maybe his followers are not your target.


There is no price for a KOL. In fact, it depends on a lot of things. If the KOL has a lot of followers and is famous, it can be more expensive.

Read Cost of KOL Marketing

You have a different method. A low-cost method is to gift them one of your products in exchange for a review/discussion of the product. But, this method doesn’t work each time, a lot of KOLs expect a payment.

Just some quick price reference for you: the cheapest KOLs cost around $250 USD, while some of the more expensive KOLs have been known to charge as much as $2,500/USD for a single post! However, as the market has become more saturated and developed prices have begun to fall bit by bit.

You don’t have to find the KOL the most or the least expensive. Just find the best representative of your brand.


As you can see in this article, KOLs are now the new marketing strategy in China. Because of all the scandals and counterfeiting, consumers don’t trust brands. If you want to be effective and touch your target, you need to include a KOL in your strategy because it’s the new tool to communicate in China. If you work together with a good KOL, you will touch your target easily. It will be a great way to promote your products, attract Chinese outbound travelers, or even sell your real estate properties. You need to work with a digital agency that can help you with your KOL strategy.

We are a specialist e-commerce agency based in Shanghai, the economic heart of China’s modern miracle. We understand e-commerce and the real methods for success in this lucrative market.

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  • I would like to work on a micro KOL marketing strategy.
    Can you help us with that ?

    • Olivier

      Of Course, we can help you. Send us a brief and we will reply to you.


    I am writing this email because I am interested in your service. I have a good amount of Instagram followers, I recently started a travel blog and I would like to have a WeChat official account. I would like to know how more about what the company can offer to me, the price and all the necessary informations. I would be also happy to come for a visit as I am based in Shanghai.

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