KOL vs. KOC: What Are They and Why Do Brands Need Them

key online consumer

In the world run by social media and influencer marketing, KOL or Key Opinion Leader and KOC or Key Opinion Consumer became parts of the brands’ online marketing strategy to get brand awareness and recognition from their target audiences. Although they both appear with products or services, actually these two are completely different things.

What Are KOL and KOC?

KOL is a famous person whose appearance with products is valued by a broader audience. KOLs are individuals who are trusted and respected specifically their status quo or specialties. People who are already famous like movie stars, models, celebutants, or people who made themselves famous on social media platforms are paid to promote products and services on their social media and brands’ social media. 

KOC is much different from the KOL. KOCs are valued by their opinion from their experience with products and services. They are people of no status quo, which makes them relatable to the audience. The size of KOCs’ followers may be smaller — merely a thousand — compared to KOL but KOCs’ followers are very loyal. Do not underestimate the power of KOCs, their opinions have quite an impact on their followers which could determine their followers’ decision to buy products or services.

The Differences between KOL and KOC

1. Initiative

KOLs are often contacted and offered cash or product incentives by brands to promote products and services. KOCs, on the other hand, usually contact brands to test or review products that they are interested in.

2. Audience

The number of followers is important for KOLs, and it is used to categorize them; Nano-Influencers (1K-10K), Micro-Influencers (10K-50K) to Celebrities (1M+). 

The audience size doesn’t bother KOCs.

3. Authenticity

KOCs are also end-users but what makes them different from other end-users is they have their own blogs or vlogs to express their opinions and views on the products they use. In comparison, KOLs are paid to collaborate with brands, hence the authenticity is weaker than KOC.

The Rise of KOC

Suvita Charanwong, Managing Director of an influencer marketing automation platform called Tellscore, talked about the changing of marketing and influencer trends. In the early 2010s, brands often hired good-looking people such as KOLs to promote their products online, but now brands are willing to spend their money on KOCs because the KOCs are much more relatable and approachable are the keys to the heart of consumers. 

“The online marketing trend in Thailand became more niche which makes it pretty interesting. Products such as power strip, financial products, etc. are very difficult to explain but the KOCs can speak plainly and help their audiences to understand the function of the products.” She stated in her interview with marketingoops.com.

She also continued in her interview that consumers used to be the listeners who had to listen to what brands said. In the past few years, consumers became the speakers so brands had to change their tactics and approach to these consumers — especially, the consumers who have followers and brand loyalty — so the brands can stay relevant or become relevant.

Brands invest their money more on KOCs, for example, they approve a 200,000 THB budget for online marketing to invest in 2,000 KOCs to review their products which compared to KOLs they are cheaper because a KOL could cost as much as 2,000 KOCs or even more.

Is This the End of KOL (?)

The world of online marketing is big enough for both KOLs and KOCs to coexist. Brands still need someone to be their faces and who could do it if it’s not them? So the answer to this question is a hard no! Because both of them are equally important to the expansion and growth of the brands. 

Every brand needs the persons who can be their brand image and the persons who actually try their products or services and give the brand’s target audiences some thoughts.

So if you’re planning to build a brand or expand your brand, influencer marketing is one of the alternatives.

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