Brands Are Embracing KOC Marketing to Drive Growth


In recent years, social commerce has gained traction with the rise of social media platforms. Businesses and individuals can now sell their products directly to consumers through these platforms. The worldwide revenue of social commerce is valued at $724 billion (USD) in 2022 and is forecasted to surpass six trillion U.S. dollars by 2030.

As users become increasingly wary of advertising with blatant PR, their trust gradually shifts to less well-known people—ordinary consumers like them. Key Opinion Customers (KOCs) help to increase brand coverage, build trust among target customers, and drive order conversions.

Exploring the Transition from KOL to KOC Marketing

In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, brands are constantly searching for innovative strategies to effectively reach their target audience. One such strategy gaining momentum across Asia is the transition from Key Opinion Leader (KOL) to KOC marketing. This shift recognises the influence of individuals who actively use and endorse products or services on social media platforms, leveraging their smaller yet engaged follower base to drive brand sales.

So, what exactly is a KOC (Key Opinion Consumer)?

KOC refers to influential individuals who actively use products or services and leverage social media platforms to endorse and recommend them to their friends and followers. These superusers play a crucial role in effectively promoting brands, utilising their personal experiences and genuine opinions to influence consumer choices.

KOCs were born in the context that they are the main “influencers” of social commerce platforms. They are collaborators who naturally help a brand “sell”. Cuicui Jin refers to KOCs as “active users of social media, positioned somewhere between a KOL and an ordinary consumer, or perhaps like a KOL in its embryonic stage.”

One key difference between KOCs and KOLs lies in their popularity and follower base. KOLs typically have a substantial following ranging from 10,000 to millions of followers, while KOCs have a smaller yet highly engaged audience of 1,000 to 10,000 followers. This distinction allows brands to tap into the KOC market, which offers a more intimate and personal connection with potential customers.

Another important distinction between KOCs and KOLs is their approach to collaborating with brands. KOLs are typically approached by companies due to their extensive audience reach, making them ideal for product promotion or representation. On the other hand, KOCs proactively reach out to companies to try and review specific products or services. This proactive approach reflects their genuine interest in the products and their desire to provide authentic feedback to their followers, showcasing their dedication to providing unbiased opinions.

KOL vs KOC Expertise

When it comes to expertise, KOLs often possess in-depth knowledge and experience in specific industries or fields. KOCs primarily act as consumers and do not require specialised knowledge. After trying a product, they provide honest reviews based on their personal experiences.

Despite their lack of professional expertise, customers perceive KOCs as reliable sources who offer authentic opinions, independent of any brand scripts. This authenticity resonates with consumers, fostering trust and motivating them to make prompt purchasing decisions based on the recommendations of fellow customers.

Why are brands transitioning from KOL to KOC marketing? 

The answer lies in the changing consumer behaviour. Nowadays, customers have an abundance of choices and approach shopping with greater discernment. They no longer rely solely on advertisements or endorsements from influencers with massive followings. Instead, they extensively research product information and seek insights from previous customers’ feedback. KOCs have emerged as a response to this growing need for genuine opinions and personal experiences.

Brands shift from KOLs to KOCs in their marketing strategy due to the latter’s stronger connection with their followers, resulting in more authentic and trustworthy recommendations that lead to increased sales. Additionally, KOCs typically charge lower fees than KOLs, and companies only pay commissions based on the number of successful orders or level of interaction. This cost-saving approach allows companies to allocate more of their marketing budget to other areas while achieving better results.

Here are 4 reasons why KOC marketing makes a more attractive strategy for brands looking to enhance their sales efforts:

1. KOCs are everyday individuals

Their opinions and recommendations hold immense weight among their communities due to their authenticity and relatability. Consumers view KOCs as trusted advisors, which is a valuable asset for businesses aiming to build credibility and establish a loyal customer base.

2. KOCs offer more valuable information

KOCs share their personal experiences and honest opinions, fostering trust among consumers. This heightened trust motivates potential customers to make prompt purchasing decisions, as they feel confident in the recommendations from individuals they perceive as fellow customers.

3. KOCs excel in leveraging various social media platforms

Their engaging content, live streams, and reviews have the power to sway consumer purchasing decisions. By incorporating KOCs into their marketing strategies, brands gain access to a highly targeted audience, resulting in increased brand awareness, higher conversion rates, and ultimately, improved revenue.

4. KOC marketing is more cost effective

Collaborating with KOLs often entails substantial fees based on their popularity and reach. The more renowned the KOL, the higher the fee brands must pay. Additionally, content development and associated media production incur extra costs. In contrast, partnering with KOCs typically involves lower booking fees. Brands only need to pay a commission based on successful orders or the level of interaction generated by KOCs. This cost-effective approach allows brands to significantly reduce their initial expenses.

As we move forward

In conclusion, the rise of KOCs has ushered in a new era of influencer marketing, and they are poised to continue to shape the marketing landscape. Brands that embrace the power of KOCs and incorporate them into their marketing strategies will undoubtedly gain a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded marketplace. 

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