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KOLs Marketing in Vietnam: Pros and Cons

In Vietnam, KOLs (short for Key Opinion Leaders) marketing, also known as influencer marketing, has incredibly rising in popularity over the past few years. KOLs are individuals who have a large social media following and are seen as experts or thought leaders in their respective fields. Brands in Vietnam are leveraging the power of KOLs to reach their target audience in several areas. In the F&B industry, for example, KOLs are often used to promote new menu items or restaurant openings, while in the fashion industry, KOLs may be used to showcase new collections or collaborations. 

When entering Vietnam’s market, foreign companies should definitely consider using KOLs marketing as a valuable strategy to reach a targeted audience, build credibility and trust. In this article, we will help foreign businesses analyze the benefits and drawbacks of this popular marketing strategy.

Image source: Facebook

Pros of KOLs marketing in Vietnam

1. Increase brand awareness and visibility

KOLs in Vietnam often have a large following on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok or Facebook. It is undeniable that their opinions carry a lot of weight and whenever they say something publicly about a product or a service, high chances are that the brands will get more attention from the KOL’s followers. By leveraging their understanding of their audience, KOLs can create content that is not only visually appealing but also tailored to the preferences and interests of their audience. This personalized approach can help foreign companies establish a deeper connection with their target audience and increase their brand awareness.

Besides, KOLs in Vietnam have a deep understanding of the local market and cultural nuances. As a result, by partnering with local KOLs, not only can foreign businesses reach targeted audiences effectively but also better understand the needs and preferences of Vietnamese consumers and tailor their marketing strategies accordingly.

2. Build trust and credibility with customers

One of the key strengths of KOLs is their ability to create personalized and relatable content that resonates with their followers, thus making it easy to shape consumer attitudes toward brands and products.

When KOLs promote a brand or product, their followers see it as social proof that the brand is trustworthy and reliable. This social proof can help build trust among followers and foster their confidence in the brand. The brand image and reputation, accordingly, will quickly gain favor among customers. 

3. Opportunity for collaborations and partnerships

Collaborations and partnerships with KOLs can present a unique opportunity for foreign brands to boost engagement among Vietnamese consumers, which will ultimately lead to higher sales.

KOLs are experts at creating high-quality, engaging content that resonates with their followers. By partnering with KOLs, brands can tap into their creativity and expertise to create compelling content that highlights their brand’s products or services. Using KOLs marketing will be especially beneficial when brands are launching campaigns about their new products. Foreign businesses can even partner with KOLs to host influencer events. These events help create a personal connection between the brand and the KOLs and their followers, thus generating buzz around the brand’s products or services.

4. Cost-effective compared to traditional marketing

In Vietnam, KOLs marketing can be more cost-efficient than traditional marketing strategies because the cost of partnering with KOLs is often lower than the cost of traditional advertising channels, such as TV or print ads. Additionally, brands can work with micro or nano-influencers, who may have a smaller following but are highly engaged, and can be more affordable than working with macro-influencers or celebrities.

Cons of KOLs marketing in Vietnam

1. Difficulty in finding the right KOLs for the brand

The majority of KOLs in Vietnam primarily use the Vietnamese language in their content, which can be difficult for foreign brands to navigate if they do not have a strong understanding of the language or cultural nuances. What’s even harder is that Vietnamese consumers use a variety of social media platforms, such as Zalo, Facebook, and Instagram. Foreign brands may not be familiar with all these platforms and may struggle to identify the right KOLs on each platform. 

Besides, there is a risk that some KOLs may have purchased fake followers or engagements, which can make it difficult for brands to sort out which ones are the most authentic and trustworthy KOLs to collaborate with. Negotiating contracts is another key challenges in negotiating contracts with KOLs, particularly if foreign companies are not familiar with local business practices and legal regulations of Vietnam.

To overcome this disadvantage, foreign brands should consider working with local marketing agencies or consultants who have a deep understanding of the Vietnamese market and can help identify the most relevant KOLs for their target audience. They should also conduct thorough research to ensure that the KOLs they choose are authentic and have a genuine following. Additionally, brands should take the time to build relationships with KOLs to establish trust and ensure that their messaging is aligned with the KOL’s personal brand.

Top Influencers/KOLs in Vietnam

2. Lack of control over the KOLs’ messaging and content

Another downside of using KOLs for marketing is that brands may not have full control over the KOLs’ messaging and content. KOLs are independent influencers who have built their following based on their unique personality and content style. Therefore, when brands collaborate with KOLs, they must give them some level of creative control to ensure that their content resonates with their followers.

However, this lack of control can be a potential risk for brands, especially if the KOLs’ messaging or content is inconsistent with the brand’s values or marketing objectives. For example, a KOL may inadvertently promote a competitor’s product, or they may use inappropriate language or imagery that could damage the brand’s reputation.

To mitigate this risk, brands should establish clear guidelines and expectations with the KOLs before the collaboration begins. These guidelines should outline the brand’s values, key messaging, and any specific dos and don’ts that the KOLs must follow. Brands should also regularly monitor the KOLs’ content to ensure that it aligns with the brand’s values and marketing objectives.

3. Risk of negative associations with controversial KOLs

When using KOLs marketing, there is a risk of businesses getting negative associations with controversial KOLs. This can be particularly problematic if the KOLs are involved in controversial or scandalous behavior that may reflect poorly on the brands they work with.

For example, if a KOL is involved in a scandal or is found to be promoting unethical behavior, their association with a brand can damage the brand’s reputation and credibility. This can lead to negative publicity, loss of customer trust and loyalty, and ultimately, a decline in sales.

To mitigate the risk of negative associations with controversial KOLs, foreign companies should carefully vet the KOLs they work with and ensure that they align with the brand’s values and messaging. Brands should also set clear expectations with KOLs regarding the types of content they can and cannot promote, and they should regularly monitor the KOLs’ content to ensure that it remains aligned with the brand’s values.

In the event that a KOL becomes involved in a scandal or behaves in a way that is inconsistent with the brand’s values, brands should act quickly to distance themselves from the KOL and minimize the damage to their reputation. This may involve terminating the partnership with the KOL and issuing a public statement that addresses the situation and reaffirms the brand’s commitment to its values and ethical standards.

Examples of successful KOLs marketing campaigns in Vietnam

There are several brands that have successfully utilized KOLs marketing in Vietnam and one of the most outstanding companies is the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan – Shopee. Having a strong presence in Vietnam, Shopee Vietnam has partnered with a variety of KOLs, including influencers, celebrities, and content creators, to promote its products and services on social media. 

One example of Shopee’s successful KOLs marketing campaign in Vietnam was its partnership with popular Vietnamese singer Son Tung M-TP. Shopee worked with Son Tung M-TP to create a series of promotional videos and social media posts that featured the singer promoting the Shopee brand and its products. The videos were highly engaging and resonated with Vietnamese consumers, helping Shopee to increase brand awareness and drive sales.

Singer Bao Anh & Footballer Bui Tien Dung as Shopee Ambassadors

Shopee has also worked with a variety of other KOLs in Vietnam, including popular social media influencers and content creators. By partnering with KOLs who have large and engaged followings on social media, Shopee has been able to reach a wider audience in Vietnam and increase brand awareness. The company’s KOLs have helped to establish Shopee as a trusted and popular e-commerce platform in Vietnam, helping to drive growth and increase market share.

In conclusion, KOLs marketing has become a valuable strategy for foreign companies entering Vietnam’s market. Utilizing KOLs in Vietnam can increase brand awareness, build trust among followers, and drive sales. While there are some cons and difficulties associated with KOLs marketing, companies that partner with the right KOLs can benefit greatly from increased exposure and credibility. Successful KOLs marketing campaigns, such as those implemented by Shopee and other leading brands, demonstrate the power of this strategy in Vietnam’s digital landscape. Want to learn more about using KOLs marketing strategies on social platforms? Click here:

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