What Is the Difference Between KOL and KOC?

KOL (Key Opinion Leader)

The definition of a Key Opinion Leader is an expert whose opinion is valued in a specific industry or area of knowledge, and is listened to by a broader audience. KOLs are individuals who are trusted and respected specifically for this knowledge.

These are your celebrity influencers, models, movie starts, singers, fashion icons, TV hosts and the like.

KOC (Key Opinion Consumer)

They are everyday consumers, whose value is based on their relatability, and trustworthy nature. The entire focus of KOCs is on product reviews, yet often, they only have a few hundred followers on their accounts. For millennial Chinese consumers, this personable, friend-like appeal and product reviews can have a powerful impact on purchasing decisions.

Unlike KOL campaigns, KOC campaigns are typically unpaid — KOCs receive free product with the hope that they will share content.

3 main differences between KOC and KOL

1. Level of initiative

Brands proactively approach a KOL and provide them cash or product incentives for promoting their products and services.

While KOC is first of all a consumer, hence they initiate the process of trying and reviewing products that interest them.

2. Audience size

KOLs are categorized by the number of followers, such as Micro-influencers (5,000–1K) and Celebrities (millions).

On the contrary, audience size is not a critical criterion for KOCs, in fact, they most likely have fewer followers than KOLs.

3. Authenticity

KOC has more credibility among readers as product testing and reviewing is their expertise. In comparison, followers of KOLs are aware of the paid collaborations between brands the influencers, hence the authenticity is not as strong as KOC.

In a recent interview, Ray Veras, Co-Founder of Chinese KOC marketing platform Pingjia Daren, shared several reasons why KOC marketing took off in 2019:

  • Chinese consumers are becoming more sophisticated, they have a lot of options to avoid traditional advertising. Their attention span is also decreasing meaning it is getting harder to keep their attention once you have it.
  • Unlike several years ago, consumers are now very aware that KOLs are promoting products because they are being paid to. They are craving more content that is not commercially influenced.
  • The Chinese social media landscape is becoming more fragmented. Consumers can turn to a number of platforms to get information which creates complexity for brands who don’t know which platforms to be active on or how to best leverage each platform since they have their own rules and best practices.
  • The last few years seen a decrease in performance from KOLs in China, yet costs have increased and become unbearable for many brands. There have also been many cases of KOLs inflating performance.

In order to be effective, KOC marketing needs to be done on mass scale, with the goal of building brand equity and incrementally lifting sales over the mid to long-term. Over the past two years, we’ve seen several Chinese domestic brands leverage KOC marketing to great success and it will continue to be a popular marketing method in 2020.

Key Opinion Consumers are a perfect bridge between CRM and KOL marketing.

CRM strategy is necessary for most of the companies, as it will help to improve your business relationships with customers.

It is also particularly effective for customer retention and driving sales growth. Additionally, some companies also partner with KOLs to boost the brand’s image as they can have a great deal of impact on consumers.

In the future, why not bridging CRM & KOC qualifying customers according to their influence, their authentic reviews, and their creativity to build a unique Key Opinion Consumer database ?

How do I find the best KOL and KOC for my campaign in China?

Visit our website to find out more.

Have any Questions? Comment below and we can answer your questions.

ChinaKOL is a company that helps companies increase their social media presence in China. Check out our website at: https://www.ChinaKOLexperts.com

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