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Key Opinion Consumers: Who Are They And Why You Should Care?

Key Opinion Consumer (KOC) is the latest form of influencers in China, who are experts in testing and reviewing products. Given that their content is highly reliable, they play an important role in the decision-making process of their readers, regardless of the relatively small audience size.

Introducing the concept of Key Opinion Consumers (KOC)

Due to the rising influence of KOC in China, marketers are motivated to test this model and adjust their social media strategy. 

In China, the predominating practice is to centralize all daily needs into one app. WeChat is a well-known all-in-one app with functions that go beyond daily communication. Users can purchase goods, order a taxi, or even attend an online class. 

There are also more and more apps that combine social media with e-commerce, and encourages users to review goods and share their opinions with others. A good example will be Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book). If netizens in China want to learn more about a certain product or explore new ones, LRB is their go-to-app. KOCs from LRB are viewed as credible since these are ordinary people who, albeit having a limited amount of followers, genuinely want to try and test a product. LRB’s algorithm helps as well since it ranks posts according to the quality, and displays them first in the main feed. Hence, further motivating LRB users to share their reviews.

Although this practice is still relatively uncommon in places outside of China, with Instagram’s new Checkout function that essentially combines social media and e-commerce, we believe that the western social media is inclining towards the Chinese approach. Hence, Key Opinion Consumers might eventually arise in the West.


3 main differences between KOC and KOL

Level of initiative

Brands proactively approach a KOL and provide them cash or product incentives for promoting their products and services. 

While KOC is first of all a consumer, hence they initiate the process of trying and reviewing products that interest them. 

Audience size

KOLs are categorized by the number of followers, such as Micro-influencers (5,000 – 1K) and Celebrities (millions). 

On the contrary, audience size is not a critical criterion for KOCs, in fact, they most likely have fewer followers than KOLs.

Authenticity

KOC has more credibility among readers as product testing and reviewing is their expertise. In comparison, followers of KOLs are aware of the paid collaborations between brands the influencers, hence the authenticity is not as strong as KOC. 


Examples outside of China that are similar to the KOC model

Amazon Vine

Amazon set up this system to invite the most trusted reviewers to share opinions about new and pre-released products. This is very useful for potential consumers since it helps them make an informed purchase decision. 

Every time a customer gives a review, other Amazon customers can also rate the quality and helpfulness of this particular review, which in turn contributes to the ranking of the reviewer. Amazon will then invite highly ranked reviewers to become Vine Voices, and provide them free products (submitted by participating vendors) for reviewal. If you see that a review has a badge on it, this means it’s done by Vine Voices.

Amazon’s Vine Progam has started since 2007, although KOC has is still relatively new in China.

amazon-vine-key-opinion-customers

@cosme

It is the largest reviewal platform for cosmetics and beauty products in Japan. Users can increase their reviewer levels based on the quality and frequency of their reviews. The platform will then display the best-ranked products per category. The reviews from @cosme have such high credibility that other brands also use the ranking from @cosme to promote their products, e.g. attaching a “No.1 Face Wash from @cosme” sticker on the products.

cosme-koc-key-opinion-customers

OnePlus Community

OnePlus—a mobile device brand—aims to build a community of people, rather than just producing high-quality phones. The company explicitly made this goal known to the public and later launched their new app OncePlus Community. On this app, global fans of the brand can exchange opinions and reviews about the phones, software, or any concerns about their device. 

oneplus-community-customers-form

2 Main Reasons for adopting KOC marketing

  • KOC is the perfect mix of KOL marketing and CRM

CRM is a strategy that every company should employ as it helps maintain and improve relationships with customers, and also drive sales. Collaborating with KOLs can also have a positive impact on the brand’s images due to their relationship with their followers.

Key Opinion Consumer is someone that possesses the combined benefits of CRM and KOL, hence, you should also try to identify profiles that have influence, authenticity, and creativity from your consumer pool, and consequently turn them into KOCs.  

  • Consumer reviews have a strong impact on potential customers

More than 70% of consumers agree that online reviews play a decisive role in their decision-making process. Considering this, including KOCs in your marketing strategy will be beneficial to the business as their voices have a strong influence on customers, and also boost your credibility. 


Recommended steps to initiate KOC marketing campaigns

1. Capture

We suggest linking your social network profiles to your website to help integrate with social media. In this way, you will be able to capture social media information about website visitors, such as the type of content they publish. As a result, turning these users into future KOCs. 

Giving your audience a chance to submit reviews also helps to connect with your audience. You will be able to interact with the audience and also build a brand community.

2. Qualify

You will probably have enough reviews from your audience and thus able to identify potential KOCs. However, be mindful that the KOC will remain trustworthy when writing the review, and might share a negative yet constructive comment.

KOC = Active Client + Relevant Audience Size + Creative Social media Content

3. Invite and Listen

After identifying the high-quality, try to organize a focus group to collaboratively share the latest news about coming products. This will be resourceful for the growth of your company. Meanwhile, invite the KOCs and digest their feedback to help improve your products. 

4. Activate

Among the feedback collected from the KOCs, we suggest shortlisting the most valuable comments for your brand. Thus, further optimizing your marketing plan by activating new KOCs to review the latest products.


Among the feedback collected from the KOCs, we suggest shortlisting the most valuable comments for your brand. Thus, further optimizing your marketing plan by activating new KOCs to review the latest products.

Keep up with the latest marketing trends and contact us for more information on building your social media strategy!

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