E-retailers urged to connect with opinion leaders

KOL-style marketing sold 80,000 bottles of locally-produced bird’s nests within 5 minutes of a livestream during the Malaysia Week campaign in Shanghai last year. (Malaysia Week Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: The government-owned Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has urged those engaged in e-commerce to build relationships with marketing influencers in selling their products and developing new revenue streams.

MDEC CEO Surina Shukri told FMT Malaysia’s e-commerce sector had yet to fully tap into influencer-based marketing, which has been gaining momentum in the last two years.

“The rise of social media and consumers’ demand for close interaction with brands has led to the rising reputation of content and influencer marketing, better known as KOL marketing,” she said.

KOL stands for “key opinion leaders”.

Surina said a KOL strategy was essential to the growth of e-commerce.

“These influencers can accelerate awareness better than traditional marketing tactics can and strengthen a brand’s image through their endorsement,” she said.

“E-commerce retailers can establish relationships with them so they can be a part of their marketing mix.”

MDEC CEO Surina Shukri.

She said the Malaysia Week campaign in Shanghai last September saw significant milestones in KOL marketing. She cited the sale of 80,000 bottles of locally-produced bird’s nests within five minutes of a livestream on Chinese online shopping platform Taobao.

During a separate session, nearly RM3 million worth of bird’s nests were sold in 10 minutes.

Another recording sold 3,000 units of teh tarik products in just three seconds.

The aim of the Shanghai campaign was to promote Malaysian goods to Chinese consumers with the support of China’s top influencers.

On the local front, the #MYCYBERSALE 2019 also went a long way in showcasing the market’s appetite for e-commerce offerings. RM2.8 billion worth of products were sold during the Sept 27 to Oct 6 shopping spree.

Malaysia’s e-commerce industry contributed RM115.5 billion, or 8%, to the country’s gross domestic product in 2018.

Surina said she was confident the sum would reach RM170 billion in 2020, thanks to a forecasted annual growth rate of more than 20%.

She added that digital economy programmes such as the Desa Project, which was launched last month, would help Malaysia reach new markets.

The Desa Project enables rural food and agriculture businesses to connect with the global e-commerce boom, thanks to a partnership with industry giants Alibaba and Lazada.

This year, MDEC is working on several areas to give a further boost to e-commerce, and these include accelerating seller adoption of e-commerce, lifting non-tariff barriers and increasing the adoption of the e-procurement system by businesses.

Surina also said Malaysia’s transition into the digital economy would be helped by realigning existing economic incentives, making strategic investments in selected areas and promoting national brands to boost cross-border e-commerce.