KOLs Are Dead. Long Live the Virtual Influencer


Luxury brands have long used influencers or key opinion leaders (KOLs) to get into the hearts, minds, and ultimately digital wallets of young Chinese consumers. Influencers, particularly those who enjoy a mass following, have helped to dramatically democratize the accessibility of a luxury lifestyle.

This has been a key success factor for labels in winning over younger and first-time luxury consumers. According to McKinsey’s China Consumer Report 2021, 44 percent of Gen Zs surveyed reported that bloggers and online influencers were among their top three sources for product recommendations (versus just 10 percent in the US). Indeed, the rise of livestreaming in the mainland has redefined the market power of celebrity influencers, many of whom can sell millions of dollars of prestige branded merchandise.