KOC Marketing: The Not-So-Hidden Secret to K.O. the Competition

19 January 2022

Influencer marketing is a mandatory part of brand marketing in China, particularly for the beauty, skincare and fashion industries. With the rise of social media and social commerce, KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) have become crucial to brands that wish to capture a greater market share.

Most KOLs are experts or “leaders” in a certain field of interest and have their own (reasonably large to absolutely massive) follower bases. It should not come as a surprise that with this degree of influence, KOLs are capable of (and have indeed caused) the making and breaking of a brand.

As social commerce becomes the norm and the social media landscape continues to fragment with the rise of platforms like Xiaohongshu, Douyin over the past two years, a new wave of influencers have cropped up — Key Opinion Consumers.

Key Opinion Consumers, or KOCs, are ordinary, day-to-day shoppers. Their value to brands lies in their dependability and appeal to consumers at large. KOCs are specialists in product testing and giving honest feedback and recommendations for said products. For Chinese consumers in particular who are constantly torpedoed with all shapes and forms of advertising, KOC marketing is incredibly engaging and highly effective in influencing buying choices and product perceptions.

In fact, KOCs are nearly equally influential when compared to their KOL counterparts.

KOC marketing is just as influential as KOL marketing

Many brands often make the fallacious assumption that KOCs are a substitute for KOLs, or that KOCs may somehow antagonise the brand’s existing KOL campaign.

Believe it or not, the opposite is true.

KOCs and KOLs are complementary. In a market where consumers seek recommendations from real consumers they can trust, KOCs help to fill in the gap between KOLs and consumers.

Top-tier KOLs use their massive follower bases to create attention-grabbing content to build awareness and increase exposure. This in turn boosts content by mid-tier KOLs and KOCs. KOCs then provide authentic recommendations, leveraging their personal touch to create popular, detailed product insights.

Do not underestimate the power of KOCs.

As ordinary shoppers, KOCs establish close bonds with consumers at large. Social media users (rightly) perceive KOCs as being more “real”, and are thus more willing to trust the reviews and recommendations provided by KOCs.

Whether they specialise in beauty, cosmetics, lifestyle or other industries, KOCs are multi-dimensional people who provide value to their audiences by sharing advice and experiences, generating genuine word-of-mouth marketing and building brand trust.

KOC marketing builds consumer trust in brands. Although KOCs are not celebrities or KOLs with millions of followers, they are credible, trusted voices in their own circles, capable of influencing purchase decisions of their inner circles through sharing their personal experiences with an audience growing weary of unabashed content sponsorship.

KOCs have become indispensable creators of trustworthy content in the relationship between brands and consumers. This is especially the case for Gen-Z consumers in China who are more receptive towards authenticity and integrity than traditional forms of advertising and branded content.

With educated, well-informed campaigns that combine the influence of KOL and KOC marketing, brands can build a strong omni-platform presence while increasing market penetration, consumer engagement and brand trust.

For example, Proya’s KOC marketing strategy for their viral “Bubble Mask” perfectly demonstrates how well-rounded marketing campaigns can effectively utilise KOCs and KOLs together. For the launch, Proya employed a three-point strategy.

Proya collaborated with top-tier beauty KOLs like Austin Li and mainstream figures like actress Annie Yi to increase product exposure and elevate their brand profile. Proya also worked with niche, skincare-specific KOLs in different content verticals to share product knowledge across platforms.

Furthermore, Proya worked with 2000+ KOCs to promote their brand on a more granular level. For KOC selection, Proya collaborated with third party vendors to identify enthusiastic consumers with relatively direct influence in their social circles regarding purchase decisions.

The success of this campaign speaks for itself. In 2019, the Bubble Mask was ranked first on Douyin’s official product recommendation list. Proya’s Tmall flagship store sold over ¥200 million in products during the annual Double Eleven shopping festival.

When used jointly, KOL and KOC marketing are the driving forces of social commerce; combined, KOCs and KOLs represent a powerful engine of content creators who leverage their industry knowledge, personal experiences, follower base and creativity to boost brands, products and services.

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About 评价达人 – PJdaren:

Since 2016, PJdaren has helped some of the world’s largest brands build trust, collect insights and drive sales in China by engaging Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) through our state-of-the-art influencer marketing platform.

Our software and services connect brands with our over 4 million-strong KOC and KOL community. We facilitate targeted, authentic conversations and content, enabling brands to capture the market with measurable results.