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Consider ‘influencers’ in China marketing strategy

By CCIWA Editor 

If China is your market, then social media and KOLs should probably be a big part of your marketing strategy.

But don’t think that means Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as they are not available in China, so you will have to research the platform best suited to your product or service.

Chinese television star Meng Fei on the power of KOLs

Then there are KOLs – key opinion leaders – which are the Chinese equivalent of our influencers. Think tennis royalty Rafael Nadale or Roger Federer posing quokka selfies and what that exposure does for the WA holiday island’s profile when viewed and liked by their millions of followers, not to mention the news stories the posts themselves attract.

Mind you, their selfies were aced by actor Chris Hemsworth’s, who pulled more than four million likes from his more than 39 million followers on Instragram for his famous quokka selfie.

In China, there’s more than 900 million social media users on mobile devices, driving “social e-commerce” where commentary and posts – especially by KOLs – can have a dramatic impact on sales and product awareness.

Chinese television star Meng Fei, known internationally as host of top Chinese dating show If You Are the One, told CCIWA in an exclusive interview that the impact of KOLs depended on what was being promoted.

He said Australian companies doing business in China should do their research when matching a KOL to a product and to remember that algorithms change fast, so the platform that works today might be gone tomorrow.

Fei is in the top tier of KOLs, boasting 34 million followers on Weibo and about five million on Douyin, the Chinese equivalent of TikTok. One of his points of difference is that he has a large number of followers in Australia.

Meng Fei's TikTok post about The Perth Mint
GFC's fresh lobster showcase
Juyo Travel director Song Qi

While in WA recently, CCIWA organised networking with Fei and some of its Members including Geraldton Fisherman’s Cooperative (GFC) to showcase lobsters and The Perth Mint’s gold and jewellery.

His video post on TikTok about The Perth Mint was viewed by more than 2 million people and received more than 82,000 likes within 24 hours.

GFC posted photographs and a story to WeChat about how Chairman Basil Lenzo transported Fei and his support team to Rottnest island, inclusive of a spectacular fresh lobster lunch.

“It is very important for us because we’ve been trying to tap into the Chinese e-commerce market for a couple of years now,” Lenzo said of the opportunity to position the company with Fei.

“The Chinese market is significant because, while they say the Australians like lobster, the Japanese love them, but the Chinese revere the lobster.

“It’s so culturally significant for them and they will and understand how important it is, not only as a delicious meal but as a cultural symbol, being the dragon, with the lobster named dragon shrimp or longxia in China.”

KOLs boost tourism

Juyo Travel director Song Qi, who has hosted and guided several Chinese celebrities including Fei, has also realised the impact of KOLs and Chinese television shows filmed in WA.

The Northbridge-based travel agency operates solely on social media and word of mouth, specialising in China-based tourists. It employees 13 people.

When Fei visited WA’s Pink Lake and posted videos about it in April 2019, Qi had Chinese tourists lining up to follow in his footsteps.

“After he experienced an aircraft tour above Pink Lake and popped out a short video via his Weibo social media in China, more than 14,000 views were recorded on the same day, with lots of reviews and messages under it,” Qi said.

Seeing an opportunity, Qi created an itinerary reflecting Fei’s visit.

“Because he is a famous person, Chinese tourists want to follow the path of what he was doing and where he took the photos. It’s good for my business, to be honest. We created the ‘Meng Fei itinerary’ and the people came.”

After hit Chinese reality show Viva La Romance was filmed in WA and aired in China, also in 2019, it had a similar impact on tourism.

“After that show went public, the similar concept and same itinerary were created into our travel products,” Qi said.

“You cannot believe it was just in that short period, more and more Chinese tourists knew about where Perth was and how exciting skydiving in Rottnest could be.

“It helped many potential Chinese tourists to make a quick decision on why they should make WA their travel destination, which is definitely a great role of ‘influencers’, who have greatly promoted tourism industry and other related businesses.

Qi said his clients were mostly aged between 30 and 50 and numbers had tripled to 2700 in 2019 compared with his first year of operation in 2017.

CCIWA’s International Trade and Investment Centre can help connect you to the right people and provide expert advice on bilateral trade with China. Call (08) 9365 7550 or find out more here.

People with yacht

If China is your market, then social media and KOLs should probably be a big part of your marketing strategy. But don’t think that means Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as they are not available in China, so you will have to research the platform best suited to your product or service. Chinese television star Meng Fei on the power of KOLs
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