Last year Alibaba livestreamed its debut Singles Day fashion show to seven million viewers, and this year they did it again, partnering up with New York Fashion Week and promoting their 'see now, buy now' technology.
In the run-up to the world’s largest ecommerce sales event on 11 November, various research agencies commissioned surveys to preview shopping plans for this year.
The hottest categories are apparel (71%) and shoes (51%), according to Kantar's online survey platform Lightspeed. AdMaster's survey shows that 53% of their respondents will spend money on clothing and 35% on cosmetics and skincare products. And, apparel is also the most sought-after, followed by household supplies and footwear, stated Fung Global Retail & Technology.
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So Chinese consumers want fashion. A lot of it.
But it’s not only the big-name fashion brands like Adidas, Pandora, Ray-Ban, Victoria’s Secret, Ralph Lauren, Furla, Lululemon, Gap, or Mac Cosmetics getting involved, many C2C fast-fashion stores base their entire yearly strategy around this shopping holiday and rely on it for a large chunk of their annual revenue.
Be it big brands or small business owners themselves, they have been increasingly aggressive in recruiting KOLs, micro-influencers and web celebrities to promote themselves ahead of the event. Oftentimes these collaborations start months in advance; KOLs will incorporate products into their content or do giveaways, slowly warming up their audiences and familiarising them with the sponsor's products before giving them the hard sell for 11.11.
Working with KOLs for Singles Day is different from campaigns at any other time of the year, shared Robin8 CEO Miranda Tan. In many cases, in the midst of Singles Day madness the only thing brands care about is sales, she said.
The question is: how do you select KOLs who can generate sales?
Robin8's data manager Martin Liu crawled through 11 million Sina Weibo profiles and ranked the top 100 up-and-coming fashion KOLs on Weibo who have "more superior" influence over their audience’s purchasing decisions.
All these KOLs have verified accounts with a minimum number of 100, 000 fans, and have more than 20% of their content from the past three months related to fashion or “时尚” in Chinese.
The ranking is based on the KOL's ability to create engagement with branded fashion content. Robin8 reviewed each fashion-related post mentioning a brand’s name, then calculated the average engagement rates of these posts while manually ruling out those with fake data.
Note: 'Tag probability' means the percentage of their posts related to fashion
The riches are in the niches
Robin8 research found that in many cases, higher tag probability equals higher engagement, and eventual sales, for clients or for themselves. 80% of the above KOLs have their own stores on Weibo that links to Taobao.
Take the fifth-ranking KOL 'Imzoey' for example, about 29% of her content is related to fashion. Those content have high engagement metrics averaging at 356 reposts, 972 comments and 2191 likes per post. In comparison, her posts about food (4% of her content) get much lower engagement with 10 reposts, 253 comments and 1812 likes, according to Lauren Hallahan, Robin8's contributing writer.
Also, simultaneously having a high tag probability in the related beauty industry seems to be complementary to their fashion posts and does not seem to dilute their influence, compared to having high tag probabilities in say, both fashion and food, said Hallahan, which are like chalk and cheese.
When choosing which KOL to work with, it is important to note that number of followers is not a clear indicator of generating sales, advised Tan. Instead, being highly focused on a niche topic (and its periperals) is much more important.