China’s influencer marketing industry is at the forefront of the global market. The advanced functionality and integration of social media, e-commerce, and mobile payments in China have allowed the country’s key opinion leader (KOL) and key opinion consumer (KOC) economy to grow rapidly. This growth has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and related measures such as the closure of physical stores, restrictions on dining in and attending in-person events, and periodic lockdowns in certain districts. These measures have led to a significant increase in the amount of time Chinese consumers spend online. In fact, the average Chinese consumer now spends over seven hours a day on the internet, with about two-thirds of that time spent using social or content apps as users increasingly rely on social media, influencers, and friends for information to help them make purchase decisions.
From September 2021 to October 2022, there were an estimated 10.1 million KOLs and KOCs across China’s social media ecosystem with a fan base of over 10,000 followers – a larger figure than seen in any other country. These influencers published an average of 38.3 million posts daily.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s influencer economy grew from CNY 241.9 billion ($38.5 billion) in 2018 to CNY 1.3 trillion ($210 billion) in 2020, and it is estimated that by 2025, the total market size of China’s influencer economy will reach CNY 6.7 trillion ($1.035 trillion).