China’s Influencer Pay Gap Has Closed — But Not Its Culture Gap

The influencer industry is rife with racial inequality. But in China, homegrown KOLs make more than their Western counterparts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Non-white influencers usually get paid less than their white counterparts in the global influencer industry. But in China, Chinese influencers get paid more than their Western peers.

  • China’s dominant MCN agency model, sales-driven social media ecosystem, and sheer market size have raised homegrown influencer prices.

  • Its reverse pay gap does not free Chinese influencers from prejudice, bias, and tokenism.

As in many other industries, the influencer industry is fighting a battle against racial inequality. Today, a common refrain among “woke” influencers in the luxury and fashion world is the complaint that non-white creatives get paid less than their white counterparts. According to a new study from PR firm MSL, black influencers on average get paid 35-percent less than white influencers on similar brand commissions in the US, far exceeding the racial pay gap in any other of the country’s business sectors.

China, which is on track to become the biggest luxury market by 2025, is home to one of the world’s most innovative and profitable influencer economies. As such, appointing local influencers and KOLs has been a popular way for brands to tap into the Gen-Z market. However, the sector’s global pay gap issue has an opposite story in China: On average, Chinese influencers get paid more than their Western peers for similar projects.

Moa Ma, the co-founder of the influencer agency GOKOLS and a former fashion PR veteran, told Jing Daily that Chinese influencers are about 30 to 40-percent more expensive than their Western counterparts. She points to the relatively recent history of China’s influencer industry and its unique MCN agency model as the leading causes of these high costs. “The influencer market has developed in Western countries for a longer time, and it is relatively more mature,” said Ma. “For example, the pricing part is more standardized than that in China. Even when influencers work with agents, they usually have a more transparent pricing model, although not completely transparent.” Continue to read the full article here