4 MCNs You Need to Know in China

Behind every successful KOL, there stands a mighty MCN company. How can international luxury brands leverage these agent-led businesses to generate sales? 

Livestreamer Li Jiaqi, known as China’s “lipstick king,” once sold 230 Bottega Veneta bags in a minute. With the items selling at $1,931 (12,300 RMB), the achievement was nothing less than shocking. Now, of course, he’s a household name who is drafted in to sell any number or range of products — from any sector.

But behind the scenes of all this was Mei One, the MCN company responsible for Li’s dramatic influence. The studio and talent agency helped Li gain 44.76 million followers by consistently producing attractive short video scripts for Douyin, managed by a production team in charge of setting, content, and products. Li owes his reputation and extraordinary sales performance at least in part to them.

So what exactly are MCNs? The term MCN, or multi-channel network, was first coined by YouTube and is now widely used in the mainland. They manage the activities of KOLs not just on short video platforms such as Douyin, but also across a wide range of avenues that include social media and e-commerce. They are particularly good at social media and navigating various online platforms’ constantly evolving features and algorithms.

Acting like agents, these companies may sign contracts with multiple KOLs. But they primarily work with two kinds: established influencers with large followings, and ordinary netizens with potential.

According to the world’s leading consulting agency, iiMediaResearch, there were more than 30,000 MCN institutions in China in 2021, a number expected soon to exceed 40,000. Last year, 74.5 percent of buyers purchased commodities through a short video or live broadcast platform. And the analysis firm EMarketer forecasts that the total global spending on influencers by brands will reach $16 billion (106 billion RMB) in 2022. Continue to read the full article here