What are KOL and KOC?


Have you ever heard of KOL and KOC? Unless you are involved in cross-border EC-related business, there are probably not many people who have heard of them. In this article, we will explain these two words.

What is KOL

In Chinese SNS, influential users, or so-called influencers, are referred to as “KOLs”. This word stands for “Key Opinion Leader”, an SNS user with expertise in a specific field, who is usually active across multiple SNSs, including WeChat, Weibo, Douyin and RED, which are typical Chinese SNSs.
It is considered to have a significant impact on consumer trends and is an essential part of a marketing strategy for Chinese SNS. The first name that comes to mind when talking about a representative person as a KOL is 李佳琦 Li Jiaqi (Austin). Also known as the “Lipstick King,” he is said to be able to sell about 20 million yuan ($380 million) from a single live performance on the Taobao e-commerce platform. The Chinese social networking platform “Xiaohongshu(小紅書)” defines a KOL as a person with more than 500,000 followers, which may give you an idea of the strength of their influence.

What is KOC

KOC stands for “Key Opinion Consumer” and, unlike KOL, refers to users who review products as consumers rather than social network users who specialize in a particular field.
The Chinese social networking platform Xiaohongshu defines users with between 5,000 and 50,000 followers as junior KOCs and users with between 50,000 and 500,000 followers as mid-level KOCs.
Compared to KOLs, KOCs are closer to consumers, and users seeking reviews from a true consumer perspective are increasingly using KOC posts to compare products and consider purchase actions.

Consumer behavior toward KOLs and KOCs

As noted in the previous chapter, the impact on consumers is beginning to shift from KOLs to KOCs.
In SNS marketing in China, there is a shift from celebrities to KOLs, or from KOLs to KOCs, and the presence of people closer to consumers is increasing in marketing strategies. Companies are aware of this situation, and Newrank.cn’s survey of “Xiaohongsho” shows that the number of KOC brand deals has increased rapidly since May 2021.

Marketing with KOLs and KOCs

The SNS platform “Xiaohongsho” is said to be suitable for marketing with KOL and KOC in Chinese SNS.
“Xiaohongsho(小紅書)” is a social networking application, also known as the Chinese version of Instagram, that is gaining popularity among young Chinese women. Launched as a cosmetics review application, it not only allows users to post and collect product reviews but also has an e-commerce function that allows users to purchase products if they like them. With approximately 80% of users being female, KOL and KOC marketing through this platform is active for cosmetics and fashion products.
On the other hand, Xiaohongsho’s 2021 release clearly states the company’s plan to increase the number of male users, and it is expected that the company will focus on products other than those for women, which currently account for a large share of the market.