Southeast Asia and China Influencer Marketing

Part
01
of five
Part
01

Southeast Asia Influencer Marketing: Culture Mapping

While there is no publicly available information to fully address how different cultures transform the influencer marketing landscape in Southeast Asia, data was available that broadly helped to shed light on the impact of different cultures in the region, and its current and future marketing landscape. Below is an outline of the research strategies used to better understand why information requested was publicly unavailable, as well as a deep dive into the general findings.

Different Cultures in Southeast Asia and Their Impact

  • Southeast Asia consists of ten countries with diverse levels of digital culture. While Myanmar (formerly Burma) is considered an emerging internet economy, Singapore has a relatively developed and sophisticated internet landscape.
  • Vietnam and Indonesia have the largest and youngest internet user population in the region, while Brunei and Singapore are on the other end of the scale with a more mature and richer internet population. However, in the digital culture of Southeast Asia Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter dominate the digital platforms which are unlike the challenges global marketers face in regions like China, Russia or Japan.
  • Although it has been found that English is widely spoken in countries like the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia, it is deemed necessary to serve content in the local language to market in other countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.
  • According to Econsultancy's findings published in 2019, it has been found necessary to be hyper-local, fitting the relevant cultural context, language, and state of digital development in order to be successful in digital marketing in the region.

Marketing Landscape in Southeast Asia: Current and Future

  • In Asia, influencer marketing found success on the back of youthful demographics, high smartphone penetrations and the spread of social platforms. However, on the other hand, it has also been seen that the sudden rush in popularity has led to controversial practices by influencers (e.g., buying followers, limited endorsement transparency, and brands taking advantage of influencer partnerships).
  • According to a new report from Socialbakers titled "Must Know Influencer Marketing Trends Report for 2019," Instagram influencer-sponsored posts grew by 189% in Asia from 2018 to 2019.
  • As far as the growing landscape of influencer marketing, specific to Southeast Asia is concerned, "Southeast Asia is the next big region for digital and influencer marketing;" which is backed by the fact that 58% of Southeast Asia’s 635 million population is online and over half of them are active social media users.
  • The influencer landscape of Southeast Asia is also skewed towards female millennials as female influencers between the ages of 25 to 34 years gather the largest share of followers. They represent 23% of all total influencer followers and they receive the largest share of interactions (25%).
  • According to Yuval Ben-Itzhak (CEO, Socialbakers), consumers in the region are increasingly seeking out reviews and trusted voices leading to the demand for authentic and relevant influencers.
  • However, providing consumers with unfiltered authenticity from influencers can be a mistake on the part of digital marketers in the region.
  • In terms of the audience who has been most successfully targeted in these markets through influencers, more than 50% of millennials say they have made a purchase based on an influencer's recommendation.
  • Also, beauty is one of the most important domains addressed by influencer marketing in Southeast Asia. Indonesia accounted for 38% of social media chatter around beauty. Malaysia and the Philippines reported 29% and 27%, respectively.

Research Strategy:

Although we could find insights relating to cultural traits that shape digital marketing strategies, the influencer marketing landscape in Southeast Asia and its potential in the future, we could not find provide an exact analysis about what impact different cultures have in influencer marketing in Southeast Asia and how will it transform influencer marketing in the region. Additionally, there was no publicly available information on the weaknesses and strengths of culture-driven influencer marketing in the region. To better understand the steps taken by the research team in determining that the exact data was not available, we present our research strategies below.

We looked into market and industry research reports focused on the influencer market and digital marketing in Southeast Asia. The team consulted sources such as Markets and Markets, Market Research, Mordor Intelligence, GM Insights, Technavio and industry research reports published by reputable consultancies (e.g., McKinsey, BCG, PWC, etc.). These reports broadly focused on digital marketing with a specific focus on influencer marketing. We then tried to find out information related to cultural traits across different the countries in this region, and how they shape or impact the influencer marketing landscape. Although there were insights on the landscape, they were mostly focused on size, growth, future growth potential, and type of influencers rather than providing information on the nuanced and subjective aspects of different cultures and their impact.

Next, we looked into reports, articles, white papers, media releases, and promotional content put out by agencies or companies who manage influencer marketing in the region on behalf of big brands. These sources included sites such as StarNgage, Madeviral, and NoxInfluencer. With this strategy, we aimed to find out their assessments regarding the market and how they were communicating about the specific cultural uniqueness of the region. However, the information available was mostly on the companies' successes and how they handled specific clients and increased their reach and following. They did not divulge much on the strategies deployed about cultural nuances affecting in the region.

Since academicians, especially social scientists, are often keen to know how the cultural traits of a region impact business in a region and how those impacts can be addressed through effective marketing, we looked into academic sources such as Academia, ResearchGate, and Semantic Scholar, etc. We also looked into sources that were dealing with digital marketing and evolution; these sources included sites such as WARC, MarketingWeek, Adage, Adweek, etc. Although all of these sources acknowledged the influence that influencer marketing could have in the Southeast Asian region, the findings were not granular enough to map the cultural significances acting as drivers.

Part
02
of five
Part
02

Southeast Asia Influencer Marketing: Trends

Four major trends driving influencer marketing in Southeast Asia are the rise of microinfluencers, Indonesia's surge, the uptick in sponsored Instagram posts, and the beauty industry's dominance, particularly on Instagram. A key, societal reality fueling the growth of influencer marketing in Southeast Asia is the fact that a whopping 55% of people there (which translates to about 360 million individuals) are categorized as "avid social media users."

Findings

Trend 1: Microinfluencer Popularity

  • One major trend driving Southeast Asia's influencer marketing is the rapidly growing popularity of brands hiring people deemed "microinfluencers." Across Asia (including Southeast Asia), 80% of all influencers are microinfluencers.
  • The definition of a microinfluencer varies among sources, but in general, they have in the range of 10,000 to 100,000 followers.
  • This trend will impact the market by bolstering engagement with social media followers and providing brands with better return-on-investment. In fact, engagement is stronger among microinfluencers compared to celebrities and microinfluencers' return-on-investment per dollar spent by a brand can be up to $6.50.
  • One company that has already incorporated this trend in the region is AirAsia. The company uses this trend to promote success by getting its message out fast to a lot of people and with a solid engagement level.
  • A second company that has already incorporated this trend in the region is Disney. One way the company uses this trend is to inform consumers about things they don't already know about. For example, people in Vietnam didn't know about Star Wars, so Disney used microinfluencers to get the word out.

Trend 2: Indonesia's Surge

  • A second major trend driving Southeast Asia's influencer marketing is the popularity of such within Indonesia specifically.
  • Among all Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia has the most influencers with about 32,500 of them (estimated by looking at graph). That number is greater than the Southeast Asian country with the second-most influencers, India, which has about 26,000 (estimated by looking at graph). The third-place country in Southeast Asia. Thailand, trails both Indonesia and India significantly with just over 20,000 influencers.
  • A factor supporting the influencer dominance within Indonesia is the fact that among merchants in Indonesia, 80% use social media.
  • This trend will impact the market by driving up compensation for these influencers, as it was stated that "[s]ocial media stars in Southeast Asia are riding this social media wave and making the most of it" with average per-post compensation ranging between $250 and $1,000.
  • One company that has already incorporated this trend is Parador Hotels & Resorts, which uses this trend to promote success by using "tools such as link-tracking and relevant social media statistics to keep track of an influencer’s impact." The company's Corporate Director of Communications stated: "Influencers are crucial when it comes to digital marketing. But we need to be selective when it comes to picking the right influencer for the brand because there are so many out there who claim to be an influencer."
  • A second company that has already incorporated this trend is Aryaduta Jakarta, which uses this trend to promote success by targeting millennials and assessing the regions within the country where influencer marketing is most effective, as it varies by region.

Trend 3: Uptick in Sponsored Instagram Posts

  • A third major trend driving Southeast Asia's influencer marketing is the uptick in sponsored Instagram posts.
  • Among Asia collectively (including Southeast Asia), influencer-sponsored Instagram posts increased 189% between 2018 and 2019.
  • With specific regard to Southeast Asian countries, the following are the percentages "of sponsored Instagram posts per country" in descending order: Singapore (42%); India (39%); Philippines (34%); Indonesia (27%); Malaysia (25%); and both Thailand and Vietnam (12% each). Though those statistics vary, sponsored Instagram posts are clearly a sizable component collectively within the region.
  • One company that has already incorporated this trend in the region is Daniel Wellington, which had "the most influencer mentions in Southeast Asia over the past year." The company uses this trend to promote success by engaging with many influencers (558 on Instagram) and having them publish a lot of posts (1,500 mentions collectively).
  • A second company that has already incorporated this trend is Shiseido, which used this trend to promote success by targeting consumers in Thailand with its line of skin-care products called Senka. As a result of its campaign involving sponsored posts, the product line went from 12th to fifth place within slightly more than a year's time.

4. Beauty Industry's Dominance (Instagram)

  • A fourth major trend driving Southeast Asia's influencer marketing is the beauty industry's dominant usage of such, particularly on Instagram.
  • According to the source Business Times, "Southeast Asian shoppers are increasingly turning to social media influencers, especially those on Instagram, for their beauty tips." In further regard to the popularity of Instagram for beauty influencers in Southeast Asia, another source stated that "[w]hen it comes to social media platforms, Instagram is the channel of choice for talent-led collaborations, hosting eight times as many beauty influencers as Twitter."
  • An article titled "Southeast Asian beauty buyers turning to influencers over celebrities for guidance" stated that a whopping 80% of those surveyed opined that "influencers are pivotal in shaping [their] opinions and buying decisions."
  • A consumer research study conducted by the firm Meltwater found that Southeast Asia's beauty consumers now prefer influencers instead of celebrities when it comes to "beauty-related collaborations."
  • This trend is already impacting the market by generating strong return-on-investment for brands, as their average return in the beauty category is $11.80 per $1.30 spent.
  • Indonesia has a strong share of the beauty conversation on social media at 38%, compared to Malaysia's 29% and the Philippines' 27% shares.
  • One company that has already incorporated this trend in the region is Skin Saver, which uses this trend to promote success by partnering with a top influencer from the Philippines, Anna Cay.
  • A second company that has already incorporated this trend in the region is Garnier, which uses this trend to promote success by also partnering with the aforementioned top influencer from the Philippines, Anna Cay.

Your Research Team Applied the Following Strategy:

We identified the four trends listed above by searching for articles specifically about influencer marketing trends within the Southeast Asia region. From those searches, we found articles that discussed what's popular in the influencer marketing sphere in the region. We categorized the above as "trends" by finding each either expressly described as such or supported by data providing its widespread popularity in the region by two or more reputable sources. We found examples of companies that have already implemented these trends by looking for articles about such and for lists of influencers in each category within the region. Occasionally, we looked at influencers' Instagram accounts to see which products they were promoting, which thus yielded companies that have implemented those respective trends within the region per the explanations provided above.
Part
03
of five
Part
03

Southeast Asia Influencer Marketing: Market Size and Growth

The SEA influencer market is estimated at $6.38 million and by 2024, will be worth an estimated $2.59 billion.

MARKET SIZE AND GROWTH

  • The South East Asia (SEA) influencer marketing market size for year 2019 is $6.38 million.
  • The average social media penetration in SEA in 2019 is 61%.
  • The "social media usage penetration was highest in Brunei at 94%, followed by Singapore at 79%".
  • For 2022, the SEA influencer marketing market size forecast is $1.48 billion.
  • For 2023, the SEA influencer marketing market size forecast is $1.96 billion.
  • For 2024, the SEA influencer marketing market size forecast is $2.59 billion.

Research Strategy:

To answer this request, we consulted global statistics regarding the market size and growth of influencing marketing and scale it down to Southeast Asia. To arrive to our response, we made the assumption that the Southeast Asia share of the global social media penetration also represents the regions share in the global influencer marketing market size, and that the SEA percentage share of the global marketing industry size in 2019 also applies for the year 2024.

We made the following triangulation to calculate the 2019 marketing market size for the Southeast Asian (SEA) influencer market:
  • Population of the Southeast Asia in 2019 =662,011,806 people
  • Average social media penetration in SEA 2019 = 61%
  • SEA total addressable market = 0.61*662,011,806 = 403,827,201.66 people
  • Global social media penetration 2019 = 3.48 billion people
  • Global influencer marketing industry market size 2019 = $8 billion
  • Percentage of SEA in the global marketing industry market size 2019 = (403,827,201.66 / 3.48 billion) * 100 = 11.6%
  • SEA influencer marketing market size 2019 = (0.116*$5.5 billion) = $638,000,000 = $6.38 million
Calculating the forecast of its growth for the next 3-5 years:
  • Global influencer marketing industry size forecast 2024 = $22.3 billion
  • Since the SEA region shares in the global market, then, the CAGR for the SEA influencer marketing market is the same as the global influencer marketing market CAGR = 32.4%
  • We calculated the SEA influencer marketing market size for the next 3 to 5 years using the CAGR calculator:
  • For 2024, the SEA influencer marketing market size forecast = (0.116*$22.3 billion) = $2,586,800,000 = $2.59 billion
  • For 2022, the SEA influencer marketing market size forecast = $1,480,759,862.91 = $1.48 billion
  • For 2023, the SEA influencer marketing market size forecast = $1,960,526,058.50 = $1.96 billion
We calculated the CAGR of the market from the last 5 years:
According to Statista, 2014 global social network penetration = 64.8%
Global population 2014 = 7,295,290,765 people
Therefore, 2014 global social network penetration = 0.648*7,295,290,765 = 4,727,348,415.72 people
SEA social media penetration in 2014 = (23.9 – 11) million = 161,996,000 people
Percentage of SEA in the global marketing industry size 2014 = (161,996,000 / 4.727 billion) * 100 = 3.42%
Global influencer marketing industry size 2015 = $500million
Assuming also that the Southeast Asia's share of the global social media penetration also represents the regions share in the global influencer marketing market size:
SEA 2014 influencer marketing market size = (0.342*500 million) = $17,100,000.
We used the CAGR calculator to find the SEA influencer marketing market growth CAGR from 2014 to 2019 = 106.24%

Additionally, we were unable to find the exact global influencer marketing market industry size for the year 2014 as no such data was available. We had to made use of 2015 data on the basis that influencer marketing market was still on the rise in 2014 and as the source indicates, the 2014 figure would not have varied so much than the 2015 figure.






Part
04
of five
Part
04

Southeast Asia Influencer Marketing: Overview

The most active social media platforms in SouthEast Asia are Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger and 360 million SouthEast Asians are active on Facebook and 97 million are active on Instagram. Facebook is the main social media platform in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines while the main social media platforms in Indonesia and Singapore are Youtube and WhatsApp respectively.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN (SEA) SOCIAL MEDIA ECOSYSTEM

OVERVIEW

  • About 380 million people or 58% of the Association of SouthEast Asia Nations (ASEAN) population use the Internet.
  • The percentage of mobile connectivity in Southeast Asia is 141%.
  • Southeast Asians spend an average of 3.6 hrs per person per day on the internet using a mobile device.
  • The number of monthly active social media users in Association of SouthEast Asia Nations (ASEAN) is 360 million for Facebook and 97 million for Instagram.
  • The growth of the active social media users in Southeast Asia from Jan 2017 to Jan 2018 was highest in Cambodia at 43%, followed by Laos at 33% and 29% in Myanmar.
  • Philippines has the longest average daily time spent using social media in Southeast Asia with an average time of 3hours 57 minutes, Indonesia has an average time of 3hours 23 minutes while Thailand has an average time of 3hours 10 minutes.
  • 55% (360 million) of the ASEAN population are active social media users of which 36% (130 million) are Indonesian and about 19% (67 million) are Philippines citizens.
  • The most active social media platforms in SEA are Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

SOCIAL MEDIA IN THAILAND

  • Facebook is the main social media platform in Thailand and it accounts for 75% of social media users.
  • Thais are the heaviest internet users in Southeast Asia as they spend 4.2 hours on their mobile device per day.
  • 69.11 million people in Thailand are internet and mobile phones users.
  • Internet penetration in Thailand is 82% with 74% social media penetration and an annual growth of 11% of social media users.
  • The most active social media platforms in Thailand are Facebook with 75%, Youtube with 72%, Facebook Messenger with 55%, Instagram with 50% and WhatsApp with 17% users.
  • As of July 2019, 79% of Thailand's population use Facebook, 9.82% use Twitter, 6.73% use Vkontake, 2.38% use Youtube, 0.15% use Instagram and 1.82% use Pinterest.

SOCIAL MEDIA IN INDONESIA

  • The main social media platform in Indonesia is Youtube with a usage of 43% followed by Facebook with usage of 41% .
  • 36% of the Southeast Asian population, that is 130 million Indonesians are active social media users.
  • Indonesia has the second highest 3 hrs 23 mins longest average daily time spent using social media in Southeast Asia.
  • 53 million Indonesians use Instagram which accounts for 55% of total Instagram users in Southeast Asia. Indonesia has social media penetration of 49%, internet penetration of 50% and 23% annual growth of social media users.
  • In Indonesia, Youtube has the highest percentage of usage with 43%, Facebook has 41% usage, WhatsApp has 40% usage, Instagram has 38% usage while Facebook has 24% usage.
  • In 2017, the number of active social media users in Indonesia reached 106 million with penetration of around 40 percent, and active mobile social media users reached 92 million or around 35% of the population.

SOCIAL MEDIA IN MALAYSIA

  • The main social media platform in Malaysia is Facebook.
  • Malaysia has social media penetration of 75%, internet penetration of 79% and an annual growth rate of 9% of social media users.
  • In Malaysia, Facebook has the highest percentage of usage with 70%, Youtube has 69% usage, WhatsApp has 68% usage, Instagram has 49% usage, and Facebook Messenger has the lowest with 47% usage.
  • As of July 2019, Facebook has 77.25% usage, Pinterest has 7.28% usage, Twitter has 6.06% usage, Instagram has 5.72% usage, Youtube has 2.84% usage and Tumblr has 0.44% usage.
  • In 2018, Facebook had 23 million users, YouTube had 20 million users, Instagram had 11 million users, Google+ had 7.7 million users, Twitter had 2.2 million users, LinkedIn had 4.4 million users and Pinterest had 2.4 million users.

SOCIAL MEDIA IN VIETNAM

  • Facebook is the main social media platform in Vietnam with 94% usage and 60 million users.
  • Vietnam has a 67% internet penetration, 57% social media penetration and an annual growth of 20% of social media users (source 1)
  • In Vietnam, Facebook is the most active social media platform with 61% usage, Youtube has 59% usage, Facebook Messenger has 47% usage and Instagram has 32% usage.
  • According to the survey by Yusof Ishak Institute, 48% Vietnamese use social media sites daily for news.
  • Zalo is a widely used Vietnamese local social media platform that is similar to WhatsApp.
  • In May 2018, Zalo reached 100 million users in majority of whom are in Vietnam. It is used by local authorities of some 20 Vietnamese provinces as the online portal for administrative procedures and interaction with citizens.
  • Zalo outperformed other apps which are similar to it because it offers better user experience and optimal speed.
  • Zalo is similar to WhatsApp, the app efficiently leveraged what WhatsApp has done right, made communication easier, faster, and more fun is and adapted to the needs of the Vietnamese community.
  • 73% of Facebook users in Vietnam use it to update news, 54% use it to make purchases, 32% use it to play games while 24% use it to sell items.

SOCIAL MEDIA IN SINGAPORE

  • WhatsApp is the main social media platform in Singapore. Singapore has a social media penetration of 83%, 84% internet penetration and a social media an annual growth rate of 9%.
  • In Singapore, WhatsApp has the highest percentage of most active social media platform with a percentage of 73%, Youtube has a percentage of 71%, Facebook has a percentage of 70%, Instagrem has a percentage of 44%, Facebook Messenger has a percentage of 42%, and 62% use Snapchat.
  • Penetration of leading social medial platforms as of 2019, Twitter 25%, Skype 26%, Wechat 24%, Linkedin 24%, Pinterest 22% Line 24% .
  • In Singapore, 7 in 10 people are active on social media; 4.8 million use Facebook, 2.3 million use Linkedin, over 4 million use Youtube.
  • The number of active Twitter users is expected to reach 0.5 million.

SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE PHILIPPINES

  • The most active social media platform is Facebook with 90.94%. Philippine citizens make up about 19% (67 million) of the total number of active social media users in Southeast Asia.
  • The Philippines has the highest longest average daily time spent using social media in Southeast Asia with an average time of 3 hrs 57 minutes.
  • In the Philippines, 47% of Filipinos are active social media users and 40% are active mobile social users. Facebook Messenger has usage percentage of 23%, Twitter 13% and Instagram 12%.
  • 29% of the Philippine population use social media platforms to search and purchase products and services.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To get an overview of the Southeast Asian (SEA) social media ecosystem, the research team started the search on online surveys and trusted websites on popularity of social media platforms. The research was narrowed to survey reports on different social media channels in individual countries within Southeast Asia. Based on the extensive consultation of these resources, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger are the most active social media platforms in Southeast Asia. In terms of popularity of social media channels per country, it was found that Facebook is the main social media platform in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Philippines YouTube is popular in Indonesia, and WhatsApp is popular in Singapore.

Part
05
of five
Part
05

China Influencer Marketing

The Chinese market has some unique characteristics that have seen key opinion leaders becoming an important part of any marketing in China. These characteristics include a preference for social media advertising, a socially orientated digital ecosystem and weakened trust in brands and traditional marketing. Two examples of the breakdown of culture differentiation include generational differences and rural and urban differences.

PREFERENCE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING

  • Westerners tend to object to advertising on social media. However, the Chinese have shown a preference for this type of advertising. As a result, key opinion leaders have become important when developing a marketing strategy in the Chinese market.
  • Social media has become the first port of call for many Chinese when they are considering a purchase. Key opinion leaders are increasingly been seen as the only way to successfully market a product in this environment.
  • Cyril Drouin, the Chief e-Commerce Officer for Greater China, has gone as far as to say, "If you don't have a KOL, you won't sell." This statement encompasses the very reason why China is focusing on key opinions leaders' marketing.
  • Key opinion leaders have developed a niche in this environment. Their influence is considered to be fundamental to the success of companies marketing products in China.
  • Virtually all brands in China are now working with key opinion leaders to promote their products to the market. Their importance is such that "KOL Academies" have been established to train future key opinion leaders.
  • Content provided by key opinion leaders demonstrates a connection to the brand or product and strengthens the image of the product in the eyes of the consumer.

SOCIALLY ORIENTATED DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM

  • China is the largest social media market in the world, with over 802 million users. 57% of the Chinese population are active internet users. This is a huge potential market, and key opinion leaders are seen as a way to harness this potential.
  • The absence of Western social media platforms has led to the rise of alternative platforms. These platforms have cultivated a socially orientated culture, which is ideal for key opinion leader marketing.
  • It is a dynamic and immediate social media environment, with users looking to social media platforms for tips, testimonials, and recommendations. Key opinion leaders are used to provide this information.
  • Shopping has become a social affair in China. Part of this social affair is seeking advice and recommendations concerning the purchase of various products. Key opinion leaders provide consumers with this information.

WEAKENED TRUST IN BRANDS AND TRADITIONAL MARKETING

  • The Chinese market has experienced many incidents where fake or unsafe products have been presented to consumers as authentic products. This has created a considerable level of distrust among Chinese consumers.
  • This is compounded by a general distrust toward information distributed by traditional media and marketing channels. When combined, these factors have contributed to the growth of key opinion leaders.
  • Key opinion leaders are seen as being genuine and trustworthy.
  • Chinese consumers are often wary of certain products, especially brands that they are not familiar with. Key opinion leaders are used to alleviate consumer concerns and promote trust in a particular product.
  • Social media is used extensively by consumers to obtain recommendations and information about new and unfamiliar products. Key opinion leaders are seen to possess expert knowledge on a particular subject matter.
  • They develop trust with their audience, so they are more convincing than traditional advertising or marketing strategies. 89% of businesses that have worked with key opinion leaders have found the return on investment to be higher than marketing through traditional channels.
  • Key opinion leaders are often orientated toward a particular market niche. They are perceived as having a degree of expertise within that specific niche, and as a result have become trusted and respected for this knowledge.

GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES IN CULTURE

  • A 2018 survey found that 49% of the Chinese depend on the recommendation of a key opinion leader when making a purchase. This figure is higher among Gen Z and Millennial consumers.
  • In China, 70% of those born after 1995 will consider social media first when making a purchase. The global average is 44%. These figures are contributing to the rise of key opinion leaders, when marketing products in China.
  • The key opinion leader market in China is immense. It is estimated to be worth over $18 billion.
  • The younger generations have embraced the key opinion leader concept, with over half of college-age Chinese indicating, they would choose to be a key opinion leader as a career.
  • 70% of teenagers will rely on a key opinion leader over traditional forms of marketing.
  • Traditionally key opinion leaders have been young celebrities or peers of Gen Z and the Millennials. The Chinese edition of Marie Claire has illustrated that key opinion leaders in the over 70 age group can also influence this generation, while also appealing to older generations.
  • An article that introduced eight personalities in their 80s, chosen for their achievements in their respective fields, received over 600,000 views in 72 hours. It illustrated that the older generations have a role to play as key opinion leaders to younger generations, and should inspire those generations.
  • A recent newspaper article suggested that too much influence has been placed on generations characterized by age group. This article suggested that the real emphasis when using Key Opinion Leaders should be on "Generation C" or Generation China.
  • This challenges the established view of what a key opinion leader is, and the relevance to a specific generation.
  • This generation is a group of all ages and lifestyles that have embraced technology in their lives. Generation C can make or break a brand and have been shown to rely heavily on key opinion leaders.
  • This generation trusts people over products, and the key opinion leader has a fundamental role to play in communication between the consumer and the brand.

RURAL AND URBAN CULTURES

  • To gain penetration in a particular demographic, the content provided by the key opinion leader needs to be relevant to that particular demographic. There has been a rise in the number of rural influencers in China, which has coincided with the increased popularity of the short video social media platform, Kuaishou.
  • The demographics of Kuaishou's user pool comprise a significantly greater number of rural members than other similar platforms. The Kuaishou story has illustrated to companies that China has an increasingly diverse internet population.
  • Rural communities started to have a stronger, more vocal presence on social media. The key opinion leader trend that had become common in urban communities was trickling down to the rural communities, but it needed to be redefined to reflect the unique characteristics of that demographic.
  • To gain penetration in this market, companies have adopted a new type of key opinion leader that caters specifically to that demographic.
  • Key opinion leaders that cater to the urban demographic are characterized by "manicured, fashion-focused gloss". The "tuwei", as they have become known is the polar opposite.
  • Four consistent themes contribute to the success of a key opinion leader in rural communities. These include coarse realism, use of rural dialects, personal catchphrases and cliches, and a lack of self-awareness.
  • The rural communities respond to key opinion leaders that are nostalgic, and represent simpler times, that are becoming forgotten in the urban landscape.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We extensively searched a range of industry publications, articles, and surveys to determine why China is focused on key opinion leader marketing. We were able to identify a range of reasons. We then cross-referenced these reasons with various examples of key opinion leader marketing. By doing this, we were able to determine three main reasons why the Chinese market is focusing on key opinion leader marketing. These three reasons were consistently referred to in the articles, and when we considered examples, were reflected in the way key opinion leaders engaged with their audiences.

To determine what aspects of Chinese culture were likely to necessitate differentiation for key opinion leaders, we searched various scholarly articles and publications to determine the traditional distinctions in Chinese Culture. The most discussed distinctions in these articles were between generations based on their age and the differences between rural and urban populations. We then searched a range of industry publications, articles, media stories, and consumer reviews and surveys to determine if there were particular preferences in these different groups, in respect of key opinion leaders. We also considered whether the style, content, or approach of a key opinion leader influenced the penetration of a particular product or brand among the audience being targeted.


Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "Asia’s influencers frequently offer a bracing contrast to the conformity of mainstream media, but the dash by brands to take advantage of this has resulted in the beginnings of a backlash, according to one agency observer."
  • "2018 was the year we reached peak influencer”, writes Ida Siow, head of planning at JWT Singapore and Southeast Asia, in this month’s Admap. “In Asia, influencer marketing exploded off the back of youthful demographics, high smartphone penetrations and the spread of social platforms."
  • "Seduced by the promise of reach and affinity at lower cost, brands and businesses are investing in influencers like never before."
  • "This Gadarene rush has led to some sharp practice by influencers, such as buying followers and a lack of transparency over endorsements, and a failure by brands to properly consider the value of such influencer partnerships. “The glut of transactional sponsorships and mismatched tactics with no real connection between brands and their influencer endorsers has blindsided businesses,” Siow argues."
  • "In India that means moving beyond the celebrity endorsement brands have generally preferred to use to embrace digital content creators."
  • "Further east, China’s influencer marketing industry is three to five years ahead of the rest of the world, according to Elijah Whaley, chief marketing officer at PARKLU. “It’s not about being top of mind or being mentioned by an influencer,” she says, “but about building relationships founded on reciprocity.” More worryingly for agencies in China, influencer-led creative studios have started to compete directly for content creation projects."
Quotes
  • "Micro-influencers make up the majority, accounting for over 80% of Instagram influencers in Asia. From Q1 2018 to Q1 2019 the brand that received the most influencer mentions in Southeast Asia was Daniel Wellington, with more than 1,500 mentions by 558 Instagram influencers, according to data produced by Socialbakers."
  • "Studying the trends of over 12 million influencers on Instagram, a new report from Socialbakers titled Must Know Influencer Marketing Trends Report for 2019 reveals that Instagram influencer-sponsored posts grew by 189% in Asia from 2018 to 2019."
  • "Southeast Asia is the next big region for digital and influencer marketing,” said Natalie Chua, Director Digital and Social Strategy at Redhill. “Today, 58 percent of Southeast Asia’s 635 million population are online and over half of them are active social media users; making it the world’s third-largest for monthly social media usage"
Quotes
  • "The report also stated that female influencers between the ages of 25 to 34 years old gather the largest share of followers, 23% of all total influencer followers. This is followed by female influencers aged 18 to 24 years old and male influencers aged 25 to 34 years old. Meanwhile, female influencers betwen the ages of 25 to 34 receive the largest share of interactions (25%) followed by female influencers between the ages of 18 to 24."
  • "Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers said consumers are increasingly seeking out reviews and trusted voices when making purchasing decisions. This has created a huge opportunity for influencers and brands to team up to create authentic connections with audiences. “Our findings indicate that brands that collaborate with authentic and relevant influencers increase their results from their social media campaigns,” he added."
Quotes
  • "This is a sign that brands are adapting to modern advancements and capitalising on Southeast Asia’s 402 million active social media users."
  • "To fully understand the rise of micro-influencers in the region, one must recognise Southeast Asia’s technological realities. In lieu of the computer-based online shopping habits of other countries, Southeast Asians primarily use mobile devices to access information – in fact, smartphone penetration in Asia surpasses 90%. Add in the one-two punch of unstable Internet connections and intermittent data, and, suddenly, spending a significant sum of money on short, data-friendly social media posts seems like an excellent strategy. "
  • "According to a survey conducted by BrandHero, 86% of influencer posts in Southeast Asia aren’t compliant with Facebook’s Branded Content Policies, which clearly state that branded content must be marked as such, whether the influencer receives money or free goods and services."
  • "Southeast Asia’s micro-influencers are here to stay. Judging by their success, they’ve proven to brands that good marketing is too personal to be left up to celebrities and icon influencers – and to the technological reality that advertising must be short and sweet to succeed, they provide an answer. "
  • "It makes sense to herald the rise of Southeast Asia’s social media marketers as the initial step toward decentralising influence, but trusting them to provide consumers with unfiltered authenticity could be a mistake. "
Quotes
  • "In most markets in Southeast Asia, influencer marketing is a strategic way for consumer brands to drive results. Vero’s research shows that in some ASEAN markets, more than 50 percent of millennial’s say that they have made a purchase based on an influencer recommendation."
Quotes
  • "Social media influencers are now preferred over celebrities for beauty collaborations, given their higher engagement, ROI and credibility among niche audiences."
  • "Instagram is the channel of choice for talent-led collaborations, with 8x more beauty influencers on Instagram than on other social channels such as Twitter and YouTube."
  • "In Southeast Asia, lip products were the most talked about products on social media, with Estée Lauder’s range of brands dominating the overall conversation."
  • "Indonesia accounted for 38% of social media chatter around beauty, leaving behind Malaysia and the Philippines who reported 29% and 27% respectively."
  • "J-beauty (i.e. beauty brands from Japan) took the lead in terms of share-of-voice, as compared to Korean and Chinese beauty brands."
  • "Selection of the region’s top beauty influencers are: Singapore’s Sahur Saleim (@sahursart), Malaysia’s Farhanah Firdaus (@faafirds), the Philippines’ Anna Cay (@annacay), and Indonesia’s Marcella Febrianne Hadikusomo (@cindercella)."
Quotes
  • "Influencers brings an entirely different perspective from ad agency creators. He understands what creates buzz for the smart-phone obsessed generation, and we intend to leverage this sensibility and perspective to involve brands in culture."
  • "Tofugear found that 55% of Gen Z consumers bought products due to the content shared by influencers. "
  • "Many of these influencers are regular people that gained their followers by curating contents that resonate with many people — earning them the power to influence their audience’s opinion and are more likely to be trusted by consumers."
  • "In a region where social media is highly popular like Southeast Asia, where 55% of the population (around 360 million people) are avid social media users, it’s become more critical for brands to gain relevancy among their consumers in this platform."
  • "According to PayPal, 80% of Asian merchants use social media to sell online. The number is even higher for the three largest Southeast Asian countries. Thailand recorded the highest percentage of merchants using social commerce at 95%, followed by 87% of Philippines merchants, and 80% of Indonesian merchants."
Quotes
  • "SEA comprises ten countries with different states of internet development, from the emerging internet economy of Myanmar (formerly Burma) to the relatively developed and sophisticated internet landscape of Singapore."
  • "Vietnam and Indonesia have the largest and youngest internet user population in the region, and Brunei and Singapore are on the other end of the scale with a more mature but richer internet population."
  • "The good news for global digital marketers is that familiar names like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter dominate the digital platforms in SEA. This is unlike the challenges global marketers face in regions like China, Russia or Japan."
  • "English is widely spoken in the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia but it’s necessary to serve content in the local language to market in countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand."
  • "To do well in SEA digital marketing, just remember that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all digital strategy. For marketing tactics to be relevant, it has to be hyper-local fitting the relevant cultural context, language and state of digital development."
From Part 02