In China, the most popular lipstick celebrity is not a woman… but a man! Li Jiaqi, also named Austin Li or “Lipstick King” is the most influential makeup key opinion leader (KOL) in China. In only a few minutes, he could decide if a lipstick will be a success or a failure in China. Millions of Chinese netizens follow his recommendations to purchase their next makeup product. But Li Jiaqi is not only a fan of lipstick, he is also an emerging leader in the cosmetics sector who use its notoriety for charity work with rural farmers and Wuhan post-pandemic crisis. Discover everything about the most famous Chinese makeup KOL: Li Jiaqi.
Li Jiaqi: The Success Story From Makeup Intern to Famous KOL
In February 2021, Li Jiaqi was awarded among the TIME’s next 100 emerging leaders in the world. This famous Chinese influencer benefits from worldwide recognition next to Dua Lipa or Amanda Gorman. Above all, it is a well-deserved worldwide recognition. Li Jiaqi started live streaming on Taobao, a Chinese e-commerce platform in 2017 but only met success in October or November 2019. At that time, he was a makeup assistant working in a cosmetics store. Li Jiaqi progressively became “Lipstick King” by being the first influencer to try 380 lipsticks directly on his lips during a 2-hour live streaming session.
The #1 Live Streamer for Makeup and Lipsticks
Li Jiaqi considers himself to be an influencer and a professional beauty advisor, not just a seller. For this former sales assistant, this is a unique way to practice sales online and engage with his audience. He loves to try lipsticks directly on his lips and make precise comments on the color, the aspect, and the texture. These insights are gold for Chinese netizens who want to purchase online but do not have the possibility to try these lipsticks in-store. The majority of beauty consumers in China live in 3rd tier or lower-tier cities and do not necessarily have a beauty store nearby.
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Li Jiaqi is passionate about lipsticks because for him “If a man looks great with this shade, a woman will look even better”. On average, 80% of its audience is composed of women. His objective is to help Chinese beauty lovers to see what is the real color on lips, and not on the skin. He never wears lipstick offline but his figure helped normalize makeup for men. Even men are watching his live streaming on Taobao or Douyin. By 2023, Li Jiaqi is expected to worth $15 billion.
What is the community of Li Jiaqi on social media?
- Xiaohongshu – Chinese Instagram: 45 million followers
- Weibo – Chinese Twitter: 30 million followers
- Douyin – Chinese TikTok: 40 million followers
Authentic Beauty Products Reviews to Drive Brands’ Success or Failure
The Chinese nickname of Li Jiaqi could be translated as “Lipstick King” or “Lipstick Brother”. Why? Because he is both an expert in makeup and an authentic family member who will give you honest advice. He will always give his honest opinion about a product even if it is from a seeding box. For instance, he laughed “this is awful, my lips are invisible!” when he was trying a Tom Ford nude shade. His job is to help the Chinese know the exact shade of the lipstick and accurately see the color to make the right choice. This is why he was honest when he tried the Rouge Hermes lipsticks and advised that the shades are not matching Asian beauty standards.
Li Jiaqi is moved by creating an authentic connection with his audience. He often records his live-streaming sessions in his apartment, because his housekeeper cleaning dishes and his dog barking gives more authenticity to his sessions. Especially after the Covid-19 crisis, live streaming reached a worldwide growth of +119% in 2020. This trend shows the desire of people for human interaction and not only online purchasing. They want to connect with people, have discussions, and share opinions. In China, the live streaming market reached 613 million people in 2020. So, a product review, good or burn can immediately turn into an online buzz. This is why Li Jiaqi often switches from “Lipstick King” to “Mister Sold out”.
Watch 6 behind-the-scenes facts about Li Jiaqi
The Successful Industry of Chinese Celebrities and KOL
Chinese netizens value a lot what Chinese celebrities and influencers wear or recommend. The opinion of others is very important to help them make the best choice or follow the right trend. Among 3rd-tier cities and lower-tier cities, KOLs and celebrities are important for 87% of Chinese luxury shoppers compared to 75% of top-tier cities. The more they are likely to purchase online, the more they will give credit to a KOL recommendation.
The Influencers’ Pyramid in China
There are several categories for influencers, from celebrities to micro influencers. Obviously, such category depends on the status and the audience of the influencer. For instance, Li Jiaqi needs to sell 300 lipsticks per day to maintain its status of Key Opinion Leader (KOL). They are noted on the visibility they could give and the sales they could generate. Depending on their result and category, a local influencer in China could cost a lot. For example, a top KOL could cost 4 million RMB per day while a KOC could cost 2K RMB per day. What is your sales objective? What is your audience target? You need to think of your return on investment (ROI) before selecting a celebrity, KOL, or KOC.
What is The Difference Between a KOL and a KOC?
The main difference between a Key Opinion Leader (KOL) and a Key Opinion Consumers (KOC) is its number of followers. Generally, KOLs benefit from a huge fan base and could generate tons of sales in only a couple of minutes. On the other side, KOCs have a smaller fan base and do not always trigger trust among their consumers. This is why you need to wisely select your Chinese KOC if you want to work with a micro-influencer. You can have a better conversion rate with a KOC compared to a KOL but only if he is a reliable influencer in China.
For Chinese netizens, a KOL is necessarily paid to do what he is doing. While a KOC is a more expert person who could share honest reviews on brands and products. The success of Li Jiaqi is coming from there: he is combining the striking power of a KOL with the authenticity of a KOC. The success of KOL is coming from trust and the concept of “losing the face”. The more followers you have the more trustworthy you are because you cannot lose face in front of millions of Chinese netizens. Especially for small brands, it could then be a challenge to work with small influencers and KOCs. You need to find a reliable local agency to assure these influencers understand your brand, products, and values.
How to Know Which Chinese Influencer You Need for Your Brand?
As we mentioned previously, the influencers market is vast in China. You need to precise your marketing strategy before thinking about your influencers’ partnerships. Depending on the KOL or KOC you would need, you have to answer the following questions:
- Audience: How many followers does he or she have?
- Content: What type of content he or she creates?
- Image: What is the image delivered by her or him towards its audience?
- Target: What is your target objective in terms of age, location, shopping habits, and gender
- Objective: Do you need to generate visibility or sales?
Finding the right influencer for your campaign in China could be difficult. At Gentlemen Marketing Agency, we help international brands performing in China with different services from branding, e-reputation, prospection, and e-commerce. Founded by Olivier Verot and Philip Qian, we benefit from a multicultural background to preserve your brand DNA and localize your campaign. If you are looking for a KOL or KOC in China, you can contact us.