Staff Reporters
Apr 3, 2018

10 Chinese KOLs to watch

We asked three top influencer companies to recommend 10 key opinion leaders from China who they think will make the biggest impression on consumers in the coming months.

The selection panel (L-R):

  • ELIJAH WHALEY, CMO, Parklu
  • BRIAN BUCHWALD, co-founder and CEO, Bomoda
  • MIRANDA TAN, CEO and founder, Robin8

打哈欠的大獅子
Chosen by Elijah Whaley, CMO of Parklu

Follower numbers Little Red Book (紅書) – 688,000; Weibo – 20,000

Target audience New mothers and fashion fans.

Bio 打哈欠的大獅子 mainly shares advice for new mothers, such as: ‘What is a proper diet while pregnant?’ or ‘Top products for pregnancy skin care’.

Reason chosen Little Red Book continues to grow in popularity. Its unique mixture of user-curated shops and cross-border brands, amplified by a content-to-commerce user experience, has been a smash hit. Even Chinese celebrities, like actresses Fan Bingbing, Jelly Lin and Jiang Shuying, have started using it. We believe the app will continue to grow in popularity in 2018 and established KOLs with a solid niche audience will benefit greatly from the platform’s growth. 打哈欠的大獅子 is already
popular and the content she produces is high quality. She has tremendous potential in 2018.



Lu Han
Chosen by Brian Buchwald, CEO, Bomodo

Follower numbers Weibo – 43 million

Target audience Gen Z and millennial females.

Bio Lu Han is a 27-year-old singer and actor from Beijing. He has studied in South Korea and has a degree in Applied Music from the Seoul Institute of the Arts. Lu Han was a member of the K-pop group EXO until he left in 2014 for a solo career as a musician – he’s been called ‘the Chinese Justin Bieber’ by foreign press. He made his film debut in 2015 in 20 Once Again and has also starred in TV dramas.

Reason chosen Lu Han is an influencer with a strong sporty image because of his hosting of the popular TV variety show Keep Running (奔跑吧). This athletic identity and strong social influence have been successfully leveraged by brands such as Louis Vuitton (to promote its new Tambor Horizon smartwatch) and Adidas Originals. In addition, Lu is highly associated with the F&B industry, where he demonstrates unrivalled power in driving purchase intent among his dedicated fans. As a brand ambassador for industry giants such as KFC and Coca-Cola, he frequently appears in advertisements to promote new or seasonal products. For example, KFC offers Lu Han’s posters and plays his songs in store, stimulating purchase intent while prompting consumer shares. His fans often express strong excitement and willingness to purchase more products based on his involvement and imagery.



Edison Chen
Chosen by Miranda Tan, CEO, Robin8

Follower numbers Weibo – 27 million

Target audience Fashion and photography fans.

Bio Edison Chen is a 37-year-old who was born in Vancouver, Canada and attended Hong Kong International School. He has had a successful film and music career and also opened his own multi-media company in 2007.

Reason chosen As the main protagonist in Hong Kong’s infamous 2008 sex photo scandal, Edison Chen has settled down and finally got married. His career is also thriving with his streetwear brand growing fast. Everything he wears sells out; everything he does becomes the talk of the town. With his novel ideas and bold innovations, Chen deserves a place on this list.



認真撒野 (Sonya Lowe)
Chosen by Elijah Whaley, Parklu

Follower numbers Weibo – 188,000; Instagram – 12,000; Little Red Book (小紅書) – 434,000

Target audience Travel and fashion fans.

Bio Sonya Lowe was a screen news reporter at a Wuhan TV station before getting a Master’s Degree in Media Culture and Society in the UK, where she later trained with media companies including the BBC. In 2015, she moved back to China to become a TV presenter and producer at Guangdong Radio and TV Station, whose viewership reaches over 100 million people. She has also worked as a model and actress, and has hosted numerous shows in both Mandarin and English. In 2017, Lowe started to work full-time as blogger and social media influencer.

Reason chosen The tourism industry is a massive growth market in China and the demand for quality travel content is ever increasing. Lowe is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this, being extremely comfortable on camera, bi-lingual and experienced in video production. Her content is differentiated by the fact she focuses on fashion, too – Lowe’s fan engagement is second to none.



Kris Wu
Chosen by Brian Buchwald, Bomoda

Follower numbers Weibo – 28.9 million

Target audience Similar to Lu Han, Wu’s fans are mostly female millennials, but he appeals to
a more affluent group

Bio Kris Wu is a 27-year-old actor, singer and model. He was born in Guangzhou but moved
to Vancouver aged 10. Like Lu Han he was a member of EXO – the 11th member – and left in 2014 to go it alone. He starred in Mr. Six, one of the highest-grossing films in China, and started modelling for Burberry in 2016.

Reason chosen Kris Wu already has two global luxury brand associations under his belt with Burberry and Bulgari. Burberry has leveraged Wu’s influence and talent to launch a capsule collection ‘Burberry x Kris Wu’, which contains 18 everyday pieces inspired by Wu’s street-cool style. Consumers expressed intense purchase desire and the first batch of the collection promptly sold out soon after launch.  Wu’s fluent English means he’s successful on a global stage: he was the first Chinese national to be invited to join the All Star game as a guest player and, recently, was the first Chinese national to perform at a Super Bowl-linked show live-streamed by Tencent Sports. As one of the three judges in the 2017 hit TV show The Rap of China, Wu showcased his passion and talent for hip-hop culture – and hip-hop itself soon became a hot trend among Chinese consumers. Wu is also producing a new song in collaboration with Pharrell.



Yang Mi
Chosen by Brian Buchwald, Bomoda

Follower numbers Weibo – 79.6 million

Target audience Female millennials strongly interested in fashion, beauty and pop culture

Bio Yang was born in 1986 in Beijing. She started acting at the age of four, and later starred in the TV series Hou Wa. She went on to film roles in her 20s, with the time-travel film Palace really making her name and leading to a run of other films. Yang is married with a daughter.

Reason chosen Yang Mi is known for what she calls her ‘airport looks’, for which she styles products from both mass and luxury brands in casual yet chic ways. She has in large part propelled the ‘airport fashion trend’ among Chinese celebrities. Titled the ‘Queen of Driving Sales’, her looks are often cited by fashion media and bloggers. Her name appeared over 200 million times on Alibaba’s search during 2017, indicating that Chinese consumers were extensively looking to purchase products that she has worn. Her massive social and commercial value has been recognised by international brands: Yang has been named the global spokesperson for Michael Kors and greater China ambassador for Estée Lauder and Adidas Originals.



Jane Zhang
Chosen by Miranda Tan, Robin8

Follower numbers Weibo – 38 million

Target audience Music fans.

Bio Singer-songwriter Jane Zhang is 33. She came third in the singing competition Super Girl in 2005 and signed a record deal with Huayi Music, the start of a music career that would gather in strength. In 2014, she signed a deal with Sony Music and released her sixth album, The Seventh Sense.

Reason chosen The only Chinese guest performer in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai last year, Jane Zhang’s singing skills proved that she is destined to embark on the international stage. Zhang got married at an early age, but doesn’t seem to be settling down any time soon.



Yang Yang
Chosen by Brian Buchwald, Bomoda

Follower numbers Weibo – 32.8 million
Target audience Teenage and tween females who like fashion, beauty and film.

Bio Yang Yang is a 26-year-old actor from Shanghai. He first gained attention after playing the lead role in the classic TV show, Dream of the Red Chamber, and his fame elevated to a new level when he portrayed the 21-year-old main character ‘Xiao, Nai’ in the novel-turned-teen-drama Love O2O. He has also released several singles.

Reason chosen ‘Xiao, Nai’ is the most popular guy on campus – gentle, kind and super-intelligent. With Yang’s gentlemanly image, clean-cut good looks and deep voice, he was considered to have perfectly interpreted the role. As a result, both Yang and the character ‘Xiao, Nei’ have subsequently been perceived as the ideal fantasy boyfriend by many teenage girls. Two of his most successful collaborations have been with Guerlain and Pudong Development Bank (PDB bank). Both brands have leveraged his followers’ fangirl mindset by positioning him as their dream boyfriend, to drive purchase desire. Guerlain, for example, invited Yang Yang to do makeup for lucky fans using its latest Kiss Kiss lipsticks, while PDB bank released a new credit card that has his image imprinted on the front. In addition to partnering with prestige labels (Yves Saint Laurent, Mont Blanc) who want to leverage his elegant image and strong social influence, Yang Yang works with various mass consumer brands, such as Baidu Map, Sohu News, Lays, Oppo and Watsons.



劉筱 bamboo
Chosen by Elijah Whaley, Parklu

Follower numbers Weibo – 180,000; Yizhibo – 184,000

Target audience Fashion and beauty fans.

Bio 劉筱 bamboo studied in the UK, which has given her a sharp sense of fashion and beauty. Her writing style is open and fresh. She shares the latest trends and talks about life and her favourite products.

Reason chosen 劉筱 bamboo is considered different from other fashion bloggers because she doesn’t only showcase the latest trends, but also devotes time to conveying an inspirational lifestyle combination of being fashionable, unique and meaningful. Her combination of fashion and emotion is seldom seen in KOL content. 劉筱 bamboo is a bit of a dark horse, but we are rooting for her in 2018.



SuperDino
Chosen by Miranda Tan, Robin8

Follower numbers Weibo – 4.4 million

Target audience Dance and fashion fans.

Bio Huang Jingxing was born in Wenzhou in 1986. A street dancer who graduated from Beijing Contemporary Music Academy, he has been crowned by fans as ‘China’s Best Popping Dancer’.

Reason chosen Huang Jingxing, whose nickname is SuperDino, has won countless awards for his dance performances. He is considered a legend among the Chinese hip-hop dance community and has attracted partnership deals with brands such as Puma. He also has his own music label, Knote, and fashion label, Super18).

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