Marketing @ A New Time
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” – A Tale of Two Cities
This famous quote is also an apt description of modern marketing.
Marketing seems to be at the worst of times when everyone is fighting for traffic, user time is nearly completely occupied, and the cost of getting new users is soaring higher and higher.
Yet at the same time, we see businesses generate billions of revenue by purely utilizing WeChat mini-programs, and the sales of recommended products on Little Red Book topped several e-commerce platforms, while a 3-minute broadcast could sell hundreds of items on China’s major short video platforms – it also seems that marketing is at its best time.
The world appears to be divided into two. Despite such disparity, here is an idea that might help us – consumer involvement.
We have talked about influencer marketing leveraging Key Opinion Leaders (“KOLs”) before, and it has been proven to be effective because of its inherent network traffic.
There’s more. Many successful case studies start to highlight the concept of another K – Key Opinion Consumers (“KOC”).
KOCs are not merely consumers with opinions, they are also content creators who may endorse brands with first-hand feedback. The difference between KOL and KOC is that unlike KOLs, who are more established and commercialized, KOCs have fewer but stickier social media followings because their content is considered to be more authentic.
Research indicates an effective 2-step approach for marketing campaigns:
1. Create positive first impressions and build up trust with your target audience by exploiting the traffic of KOLs;
2. Have KOCs bring the products to real-life scenarios, entrench the trust and further converse the awareness to actual sales.
Let’s look into the case of MAIA ACTIVE, a Chinese-born sportswear brand that successfully raised RMB 40 million funding only 2 years after its establishment.
Gaining new consumers is expensive for the retail industry. From the very beginning, MAIA’s strategy is to focus on accumulating real users and real user content. From the get-go, MAIA looked for ordinary Little Red Book users with an active, healthy living focus and seeded them free samples of MAIA products. In return, these exercisers generated high-quality feedback and content in a rather organic manner.
“Traditionally, people are used to the idea of B to C. But MAIA is doing C to B, which is to allow consumers to vote first on their preferences, and then the company produces to satisfy their needs.” Mia, founder of MAIA mentioned in an interview, “we realized that 30%~40% of consumers are willing to spend because of Word-of-Mouth.”
With the rapid growth of e-commerce in recent years, Chinese consumers have become sophisticated enough to differentiate which products are truly loved and recommended by social media figures. These more mature consumers are willing to spend based on what they believe is more authentic content.
The combination of KOL and KOC is certainly powerful, however, that is not all. Brands should also create an interactive gateway to directly engage with their target market. This means that the brands should submerge themselves into the virtual world, along with the KOLs and KOCs, and carefully guide public opinions in a friendly and approachable manner, to build immediate rapport with customers.
Retailing has evolved from merchandise-centric to buyer-centric. It’s the same for marketing – from scenario to consumer. When the consumers become more knowledgeable and sophisticated, the effect of mere advertisement and traffic only reaches to a point. Nevertheless, encouraging real consumers to generate organic content may lead your brand into a new era of vigorous marketing.