China's Latest eCommerce Trend: Short Video Streaming & KOL's

TMO GroupMay 16, 2018
China's Latest eCommerce Trend: Short Video Streaming & KOL's

2018 is the year of the rise of short videos and live streaming in China. The country is characterised by blurring lines between socialising and doing business. In essence this trend closely mirrors the change which occurred in the West. However, because of China's digital savvy consumers it is more starkly felt comparatively.

According to AIB China, over 50% of Chinese online consumers born in the 90's will stream at least daily. Furthermore, several sources report that the country's live streaming market has grown by 180 per cent. Where Business Insider estimates that the market is worth 4.3 billion USD. These platforms, in combination with Key Opinion Leaders (KOL), are becoming an extremely popular and valuable marketing tool.

Many brands have already joined this newest craze. But what are the opportunities which short video marketing might bring to your brand? Which different platforms can you utilise? And how to pick the most suitable platform, KOL, and effectively use them? Upon these questions we will touch in this article.

Opportunities and Developments

The total audience number for short videos in China has exceeded 300 million. In terms of geographical distribution, 39.46% of the audience resided in either first- or second-tier cities and it is a particularly suitable method to reach higher and middle-high income households and individuals. In addition, it is not unexpected that the short video is a valuable tool to reach the younger generation, where individuals under the age of 35 make up a total of almost 58%. What is more, the distribution of the male to female ratio is 6:4.

Statistics Short Video

Currently, the short video environment is also characterised by competition around the type of content as the lines between social entertainment and vertical as well as business are blurring. These developments present companies with a wide array of opportunities for brand exposure and various chances to connect with your target audience through quality content.

Furthermore, because of the integrated use of user tags and big data, companies will be able to provide a more accurate content distribution which should translate into an increase in the user's ability to find high-quality content. The use of such features also enables a powerful screening condition for any brand to accurately target the right audience.

Short Video Platform Types


The socialisation, mobilisation, and fragmentation are exactly the attributes that short video apps bring which is attractive to the young generation, one of the craze's main target audience. In addition, brands can choose to collaborate with KOL's who can export their high-quality content. Below we will provide you several examples of the most popular short video streaming apps.


Douyin, better known as Tik Tok, has recently topped the IOS download charts for non-game apps for the first quarter of 2018. In essence, it is a short video and music app which was launched in 2016 and is used to produce and browse short video clips. However, a differentiating factor from numerous other apps are its editing functionality. By allowing a host of add-ons, music themes, animations the app has particularly adhered to the young Chinese generation.

Douyin KOL

Perhaps the most important functionality provided by Douyin is the fact that you can simply scroll or swipe between clips. For example, if you are not particularly interested in a video and can't make it through the mere 15 seconds that each short video lasts for, you can simply scroll/swipe to move to another piece of content. Because of this, the app already boasts 65 million active daily users in February of this year.

Michael Kors is the first luxury brand to be used as the Douyin platform. Only after one week of activity it attracted 30.000 users spontaneously creating their own content related to the brand, totalling 200 million videos. In addition, due to its popularity Douyin added entertainment methods such as stickers specifically made for Michael Kors products. A combination of such entertainment methods with open screen advertisements, search boxes, discovery pages, and station message will redirect you to MK simultaneously. MK also invited a number of famous KOL's (such as Wu Jiaxi, Jie Ge, and Ling Yinyu), who are particularly famous singing talents and fashion bloggers, to jointly promote their brand resulting in a multitude of exposure. In addition, its corporation with KOL's significantly increased MK's brand influence in the young Chinese fashion community

Michael Kors


On the other hand, is another short video streaming app which began life in 2011 as a destination for photo sharing on your mobile. It's photo sharing business has already picked up 400 million users. Recently, it also successfully ventured into the live streaming segment with over 50 million daily active users, and 5 million videos uploaded to its servers every day.

Vertical Communities

Vertical community platforms often target more specific market segments and may deliver greater conversions. A famous example is XiaoHongShu's platform.

Brands can settle in these vertical community platforms and reach out through relevant consumers in the platform's particular product segment or via the use of KOL's. Typical platforms will include fashion, beauty, and lifestyle vertical shopping community platforms. Most of these platforms will have already added a short video function, where at the same time you can add product tags. Whilst the user is viewing the video, they may jump directly to the product details page via a click tag.

For example, the well-known blogger on XiaoHongShu's platform, Ling Yinyu, recorded short videos of fitness classes where she would wear branded clothes, and added product tags to help generate traffic for the brand (as seen in the example below).

Example Vertical Platform


Finally, it is not uncommon to generate interests or receive brand recommendations from friends via WeChat short videos which can be shared with friends. This type of short video is characterised by a very low threshold of communication but can definitely hit the public's eye and generate traffic among a circle of friends following a viral transmission.

WeChat KOL


A recent addition to Weibo is the opportunity of a Weibo vlog, which is a combination of a video with a blog. An obvious advantage is the organic combination and a vlog can be seen as an extension of your content. In this way, particularly KOL's find it easier to introduce a specific product and the KOL's experience to create an improved brand perception.

Weibo KOL

Key Opinion Leaders

There is a wide range of individuals (or companies) that help commercial players discover a narrow target audience and communicate with them. These so-called Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) can be defined as any social media account with a follower audience relevant for particular companies (i.e. individuals with a niche hobby or online celebrities). They are able to leverage the potential local market and are particularly popular among categories such as cosmetics and fashion.

Trustworthy recommendations by famous KOL's are highly valued among Chinese consumers. Most KOL campaigns in China are about impulsive buying, as KOL's create short time excitement about a product.

We can recognise two types of KOL's, namely:

  1. Expert sellers: are a group of individuals who are great at creating an impression and driving traffic to a store increase sales.
  2. Curators: are a group who specialise in branding, content, and story-telling. These are exceptionally well equipped to help build emotional trust with your brand.

It is imperative that you find the right KOL for the job and as such it is equally important to utilise the right platform to find a proper KOL. If you would require our assistance, please contact us at You might also like to check out one of the following platforms:

  • - is a big analytical platform with data on most KOL's and you can use much historical data to identify your KOL. However, they do present a lot of information you have to shift through.
  • - offers an overview 'curator' KOL service providers. Once again, they help you sort through a large number of potentials, but it might be time consuming.
Share to: 

Related articles

All insights
Market guide
Industry report
Data pack

Let's Talk

Expand your Business with us
Get in touch