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How China is Mastering Influencer Marketing

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A Brief History: The Genesis of Influencer Marketing in China

Our expert, Preeti Chandra says, the roots of influencer marketing in China stretch back to the early 2000s, as the digital world began to burgeon. The initial stages saw the rise of bloggers and vloggers, gradually gaining traction through authentic, real-life content that resonated with audiences. The advent of social media platforms like Weibo and WeChat fueled this movement, enabling influencers to create relatable narratives that captured hearts.

The Growth Trajectory: Numbers Don’t Lie

China’s influencer marketing growth isn’t just impressive; it’s exponential. With annual growth rates hovering around 30% or more, this phenomenon continues to redefine the marketing landscape. The influencer marketing sector in China was worth about $15.5 billion in 2021, and the entire influencer economy is expected to grow to around $1.08 trillion by 2025. That’s a testament to the sheer power of this strategy in capturing consumer attention and driving engagement.

Source: Global eCommerce boom will come in large part from China

Tactics That Sparked Love: Influencers, Strategies, and Magic

KOLs: A New Breed of Celebrities:

Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are at the heart of China’s influencer marketing revolution. These individuals possess genuine expertise in their niches, offering insights that are both credible and relatable. Their authenticity sets them apart, making them not just endorsers, but advisors and companions on the consumer journey.

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Indian influencer marketing is witnessing the rise of KOLs who are experts in their domains. Their authenticity and expertise are harnessed by brands to build credibility. For instance, fitness influencer Shilpa Shetty’s journey from Bollywood to advocating a healthy lifestyle has established her as a trusted voice in wellness-related endorsements.

Similarly, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s culinary expertise and television presence have positioned him as a KOL in the food and cooking space, making his brand collaborations resonate with food enthusiasts nationwide.

For instance, fashion influencer Komal Pandey has carved a niche for herself by blending traditional and modern styles, making her collaborations with fashion brands highly impactful among her followers.

Additionally, travel and lifestyle KOL Shenaz Treasurywala’s vibrant storytelling and exploration of offbeat destinations have created a unique space for her in the travel influencer realm, making her collaborations resonate with adventure enthusiasts.

Livestream Shopping – A Show with Products:

Imagine a shopping experience that combines entertainment with instant purchases. That’s the magic of livestream shopping. Influencers take center stage, showcasing products, answering questions, and even offering exclusive deals. The real-time interaction transforms viewers into active participants, merging shopping with entertainment seamlessly.

Also Read: Exploring the Latest Trends in Influencer Marketing and How Brands are Leveraging it for Maximum Impact

The captivating magic of livestream shopping is gaining momentum in India as well. E-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart are leveraging influencers to conduct live sessions, showcasing products in real-time and engaging with viewers. Amazon’s “Live Shopping Experience” brings influencers on board to provide interactive product demos, akin to China’s livestream shopping phenomenon.

Platform Versatility – Crafting Unified Narratives:

Navigating China’s diverse digital landscape requires finesse. Influencers artfully weave their messages across platforms like WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, and Xiaohongshu, maintaining consistent brand narratives while adapting to each platform’s unique audience preferences.

Just as China’s influencers deftly navigate diverse platforms, Indian influencers are mastering the art of tailoring content for different platforms. From Instagram to YouTube and emerging platforms like Moj, influencers are crafting narratives that align with each platform’s audience preferences. Brands like Nykaa have tapped into this trend, collaborating with influencers across platforms to reach a wider demographic.

Source: Most Used Social Media 2023 – AOVUP (formerly Woosuite)

Storytelling That Resonates:

China’s influencers aren’t just endorsers – they’re storytellers. They seamlessly integrate brands into narratives, turning endorsements into captivating stories. By connecting products with emotions, they forge deeper connections, impacting purchasing decisions through relatable content.

Influencers in India are stepping into the role of storytellers, seamlessly integrating brands into their narratives. These narratives transcend mere endorsements and weave products into engaging stories

TikTok’s Impact:

TikTok (Douyin in China) has emerged as a game-changer. Short, engaging videos dominate, and influencers create content that leverages trends, challenges, and catchy music to capture attention. Brands collaborate with influencers to create viral challenges, embedding their products within the trend and sparking user-generated content.

Also Read: The Dark Side of Influencer Marketing: Safeguarding Your Brand from Influencer Fraud

While TikTok has faced regulatory challenges in India, similar short-video platforms like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts have emerged. Influencers are creating snappy, trend-focused content that captivates viewers. Brands like Zomato have embraced this trend, collaborating with influencers for creative challenges that revolve around food and dining experiences.

Seamless Product Integration:

China’s influencers excel in seamlessly integrating products into their content. Instead of a blatant promotion, they naturally incorporate products into their daily lives, showing how the product enhances their routines. This approach underlines the value of authenticity in influencer endorsements.

This is super trending in India right now, content creators in the entertainment, storytelling, and comedy are acing this – the recent collaboration of Dharna Durga with Sleepyhead (mattresses) is a great example. We have more examples like Sharan Hedge, Dolly Singh, and many more who are acing the seamless product integration.

Collaborative Campaigns:

Influencers in China often collaborate on campaigns, creating a network effect that expands the reach of brands. Brands can learn that influencer partnerships can multiply impact when like-minded influencers come together for a shared campaign.

Also Read: Reactions of Brands On Twitter Rebranding

In India – this trend is highly adopted by travel brands where influencers are offered paid vacations to promote a hotel or place or experience together and post a reel/vlog/detailed review in a collab post where both their audiences can be reached using one post.

Regional Expansion :

Brands looking to enter new markets can learn the significance of understanding and respecting local culture when crafting influencer campaigns.

Influencers in India recognize the importance of cultural nuances, tailoring their content to align with local values. This sensitivity enhances relatability, deepening the audience’s connection with both the influencer and the brand.

As the Indian influencer marketing landscape evolves, it is evident that China’s trends have sparked a ripple effect, reshaping strategies to fit the Indian context. Brands like Amazon India, Nykaa, and Zomato are pioneering these trends, demonstrating how innovation and influencer collaboration can redefine consumer engagement.

Sustainable Relationships:

Many Chinese influencers build long-term relationships with brands. Instead of one-off campaigns, they become brand ambassadors, fostering a deeper connection between the influencer and the brand.

Indian brands have always believed in long-term relationships even before influencer marketing was born. Can you imagine MRF Tyres without thinking of Sachin Tendulkar? Or imagine Lux soaps without imagining the iconic divas of Bollywood who have endorsed it ever since. In the recent scenario, we have celebs like Virat Kohli endorsing Puma/Audi and many more brands as their brand ambassadors and not just a one-off campaign.


China’s journey through influencer marketing is a testament to the power of authenticity, creativity, and understanding of one’s audience. From its modest beginnings to its meteoric rise, this landscape has shifted the paradigms of consumer engagement. As we witness China’s influencer marketing reach new heights, it’s a reminder that genuine connections and resonant narratives have the potential to transcend borders and redefine the way brands connect with their audiences.

About Expert: Preeti Chandra

Business Development Manager

Pulpkey MediaTech Private Ltd

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