Two top Chinese influencers held a seminar at MICAM

With almost a billion and a half inhabitants, over half of whom live in urban centres, and an economy that has been galloping ahead of other world powers for years, China is also one of the key markets for the footwear industry.

For Western producers, however, it is not always easy to understand the purchasing dynamics of Chinese consumers. These dynamics were discussed in depth during an interesting seminar organised by MICAM, entitled: Social Media and e-commerce, a Chinese Marriage.
Leading the seminar were two exceptional speakers, Crystal and Sarah, top influencers from China who were invited, along with three of their colleagues, Ann, Danson, and Maojiaying, to wander amongst the exhibitors at the 87 th edition.

The distance between social media and e-commerce is shrinking

«The Chinese e-commerce market already represents half of the global market», explained Crystal, who also outlined a profile of the average customer: young, educated, urban.
In China, much more than in Europe and the United States, the boundary between social media and e-commerce is very blurred and almost a third of consumers are influenced in their purchases by so-called KOL (in the rest of the world the percentage drops to 13%).

Who are the KOLs?

KOL is an acronym that stands for Key Opinion Leader, a fundamental figure for brands to build an online reputation.
«They are people who use their image to become product ambassadors», said Sarah, who also drew up a list of all those categories that can be defined as KOL: celebrities, bloggers, vloggers, influencers, models, and live-streamers.

What platforms do KOLs use?

First of all Weibo, which dominates the micro-blogging scene and which, according to Crystal, is the best way to enter the Chinese market.
Then there are Red, a lifestyle app used to share things and create online shops; TikTok, now very famous also in the West; Wechat, which in addition to being used for messaging also allows one to make money transactions; and Mogu, a social network used especially for outfits, with direct links to e-commerce brands.

4 things that Western brands need to know

While there is a lot to discover, and it takes a lot of work to learn how to understand the habits and customs of potential Chinese customers, Sarah and Crystal have summarized the key aspects in four points to help one start to orient oneself.

1. “Today, in China, e-commerce and social media are one and the same thing”;
2. “Online reputation is the key to selling”;
3. “It is important to make a planned and careful investment in KOLs”;
4. “Regardless of the product category, it is essential to make a combined use of the different
platforms”.

Sarah and Crystal also have an Instagram account: Sarah and Crystal.