South Korean beauty brands cooling off on KOLs

KOLs – influencers, or celebrities on social networks – are rising as marketing leaders for the beauty industry, thanks to their massive popularity among the younger demographics.

However, they also come with a series of side effects that serve as threats against the industry.

“We signed a promotion contract with a popular influencer for one of our products, who all of a sudden terminated the contract after transferring to a different management firm,” said one industry official.

“There were also those who did not show up at our online broadcast, and disappeared without answering any of our calls.”

Some companies have ceased all marketing projects with KOLs, while others are overhauling related guidelines. The fundamental solution, however, is yet to be found.

“Influencer marketing is also based on contractual relations, but since there are no standard contracts, we mostly engage in verbal contracts which deprive us of any means of compensation once the contract is broken,” said one industry official.

Beauty firms, however, are reluctant to publicise the issue, fearful of the backlash from the fandoms surrounding the KOLs.

“The reality is that popular YouTubers are more influential than many celebrities out there, and we dare not make any problems with them,” said one company official.

These concerns are expected to deepen as influencer marketing is bound to grow in the long term.

“Teens and those in their 20s watch YouTube and SNS instead of television. Influencers will only become more powerful,” said one expert.

“Companies are deeply concerned about managing relationships with them. There needs to be an institutional change.”


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