KOC: What They Are & How they drive higher business outcomes?

October 23, 2019

Influencer marketing has been one of the hottest buzzwords for marketers over the last decade. However, the idea of influence isn’t new. It has been around since there was more than one human on the planet. In China, driven by the evolution of social media the concept of Influencer marketing has gravitated around celebrity and near-celebrity “Influencers / KeyOpinion Leaders (KOLs)” with thousands, even millions, of followers on Weibo, WeChat, Douyin, and other social media platforms, most of them paid to endorse brands.

While these paid influencers can drive surges in demand, marketers have a much more sustainable opportunity to engage opinionated consumers (A.K.A Key Opinion Consumers – KOCs) whose value comes from personal relationships with their closest friends and families. Because of the fascination with paid influencers, many marketers have overlooked a massive-and proven-opportunity to cultivate strategies that would put the power of these empowered consumers to work on their behalf.

Here, we’re going to explore what KOCs are, and their power to drive more significant business outcomes.

What are KOCs?

KOCs are everyday, ordinary consumers who love to create and share experiences through photos, videos, and reviews. Their 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 has a powerful impact on their purchasing decisions.

Why are KOCs much relevant in China, now?

As Chinese consumers increase in sophistication, they are becoming more discerning, and do much more research before choosing a brand. According to McKinsey China, today, a typical Chinese consumer requires eight brand touchpoints before making a purchase decision. To relevant, brands are compelled to deploy cross-platform content marketing strategies that resonate positively among their target audience. KOCs represent an unparalleled option, in terms of scalability and affordability, for brands to power their cross-platform content marketing with User-Generated Content (UGC), photos, videos, and reviews people want to see.

Another critical trend driven by the rising sophistication of Chinese consumers is the creation of interest circles. Today, more consumers, especially younger consumers, build their own social circles through shared interests and topics and have more trust in the evaluation and recommendations from others. According to Nielsen data, more than 84% of Chinese consumers trust recommendations from friends, family, and interest circles, and 66% have bought products recommended by relatives, friends, and colleagues.

With more than 900 million social media users and more than 700 million e-shoppers, in China, peer-to-peer recommendations play a fundamental role in the purchase decision process of Chinese consumers. Therefore, the most forward-thinking brands now not only see people as consumers but also in the role of brands co-producers who effectively co-create the brand and influence the brand choice of other look-alike consumers. 

Key benefits of KOCs

1. Transparency

As KOCs, generally, do not receive any additional incentive other than the products they review, they have not the pressure to prove their performance. Therefore, KOCs have not motive to incur fraudulent actions such as inflating their posts with fake impressions and  engagement. This low-risk cooperation model ensures transparency and much more reliable data to measure ROI and effectiveness.

2. Build trust and awareness

KOCs can help brands to build cross-platform presence and trust quickly. As KOCs often are active several social media platforms and their posts look more authentic and relatable to ordinary consumers. They help brands to build awareness and trust effectively across multiple social media platforms at scale. Overall, people are more willing to listen to their friends than they are to brands.

3. Higher Engagement

Although KOCs may have a much smaller following than KOLs, they generally engage in a much more two-way dialogue with their followers. As KOCs recommendations are not perceived as paid reviews, their followers naturally respond to their posts on social media and take their recommendations seriously. KOCs build a more personalized and trustful engagement with their audience, and that may, in fact, trigger higher conversions.

4. Increased authenticity

One of the advantages of working with KOCs is that they are very  much, just like their audience. Their posts are often authentic recommendations of products and services they use and that are relevant to their lifestyle and, consequently, the lifestyle of their audience.

5. Affordability

With most KOCs being relatively ordinary people, who participate on social media as a hobby alongside a regular job, firms can generally work with them for a substantially lower cost than they can with the celebrities or KOLs.

In most cases, brands work with Key Opinion Consumers for the cost of some free samples.

Also, some of the KOCs marketing platforms, such as 评价达人, provide brands with affordable end-to-end solutions to engage Key Opinion Consumers. In 评价达人 case, they provide brands with a powerful engagement platform to inspire sub-segments of its community of Key Opinion Consumers to create authentic content and conversations in places where they matter most and at scale.

6. Greater ROI

KOCs often outperform other forms of paid advertising in terms of ROI; several factors explain this:

  • KOCs are cost-effective;
  • KOCs’ generate content in multiple formats and often share their content in more than one social media platform;
  • KOCs drive higher, organic engagement online and offline;
  • More than 65% of consumers’ rely on other consumers reviews to guide their purchase decisions;
  • 评价达人 has found that on average, 22% of the KOC re-purchase the products they review or other products from the same brand.

The power of Key Opinion Consumers is evident, especially in a hyper-connected market like China. Authentic, real-world, everyday consumers’ opinion offers the most sustainable opportunity for brands to leverage social influence to grow businesses in the short-term(sales) and the long term(brand equity). For brands to stay ahead of the curve, it is critical to understand the underlying dynamics of KOCs, how to work with them, and the tools available for doing so.

About 评价达人 – PJdaren:

评价达人 – PJdaren helps some of the world’s largest brands to engage Key Opinion Consumers (KOC) with end-to-end solutions to build trust and drive sales in China. 评价达人 provides brands with a powerful engagement platform to inspire sub-segments of its community of Key Opinion Consumers to create authentic content and conversations in the places that matter most and at scale. 评价达人 leverage the power of human interaction to help brands build trust, collect valuable market insights, and boost sales.