The following articles were taken from the second edition of theINSIDER KOL Marketing Magazine. theINSIDER KOL Marketing Magazine contains featured articles from some of the top KOLs in China and includes more than 250 KOL profiles across fashion, beauty, luxury, fitness, travel, child & parent, f&b, and foreigners. The Fitness KOL Catalogue has articles from top fitness KOLs and gives access to 30+ dance, yoga, bodybuilding, and fitness KOL media kits.
XIAO JIE: New Street Dance is Born When East Meets West
“Apart from sleeping and eating, there’s nothing else in my life but dance – that’s how passionate I am about it.”
Xiao Jie has been in street dance since 14. He became a city champion while still in middle school. Although at the time, his family disapproved at first, his persistence moved them. He went to Beijing to continue his studies and won silver in the Beijing TV Street Dance Competition.
Xiao Jie says dancing is the only thing he needs in life apart from eating and sleeping. In Beijing, Xiao Jie met his first teacher, Feng Zheng, a veteran street dancer, and Korean dance instructor. One year later, Xiao Jie started gaining influence on the dance scene thanks to the nationally televised M-Zone street dance competition. At the beginning of his dance career, Xiao Jie was “not even able to pass auditions in China,” he recalls.
“I even started doubting if I was simply not suited for street dance. Later on, totally by chance, I went to compete in a street dance competition in Japan. I even had to borrow money for that trip, and I was thrilled to reach the semifinals. After returning to China, I never left empty-handed again whenever I competed locally.”
“Making traditional performers recognise street dance through a fusion of East and West”
Once you come into public view, you don’t only receive praise, no matter how outstanding you are. Xiao Jie said that achievements speak for themselves when you’re faced with negativity. “I’m a four-time consecutive world champion, yet there may still be people who dislike me, but I don’t care. I just keep at it and focus on my field.”
Before interviewing Xiao Jie, I watched one of his earlier interviews, in which he said that he not only wants to inspire young people to get into street dance, but also gain support and recognition for street dance from traditional performers. But how can people’s perception of street dance change? “Fusion.” He explains.“If you add Chinese thought and humour to street dance body language, it takes on a totally new and interesting face. Foreigners also love it if you mix unique elements of Chinese culture, such as traditional opera and its characters, into Western street dance — just like I did in my Monkey King dance. Street dance differs from traditional in that it emphasises a kind of feeling rather than having lots of rules and restrictions.”
Xiao Jie is very optimistic about the future of street dance in China. “Recently, the Chinese Dancers Association established the Street Dance Committee. They will be looking into the best ways to teach street dance classes that retain unique Chinese culture, be well received by foreigners, and spread positivity.”
“ My fans used to buy shampoo I endorsed by the box.”
Xiao Jie’s commercial collaborations are mostly short-term endorsements, performances or open classes. On social media, he is active on Weibo and Douyin. He works with brands from various industries, including lifestyle, food, clothing, and gaming. These include Head & Shoulders, Chips Ahoy, TOREAD, Fantastic Westward Journey (a popular video game), and Tianfang Yetan beverages. His posts are mostly dance videos and pictures.
“My fans are unbelievable — They don’t reject any commer- cial content. When I worked with Head & Shoulders and Tianfang Yetan soft drinks, they used to buy the shampoo and the drinks by the box,” Xiao Jie says.
He couldn’t be more convinced about influencers’ ability to endorse products. Normally, Xiao Jie interacts with his fans on Weibo and also maintains his fanbase through meet-ups.
“Be dedicated to your work, stay true to yourself, and remain humble”
Xiao Jie’s favourite Chinese dancer is Yang Liping because she is dedicated and refined. Once she has figured out what works for her, she sticks with it. Among foreign artists, his idol is Tony GoGo. “He was Michael Jackson’s teacher, and he’s also mine,” Xiao Jie laughed.
When I ask him to share the secret of his success, he laughed modestly. “Success? I’m still on my way. The path towards success is full of exploration, and the most important thing is your personality. But, at the same time, you can’t get fixated on things. People say you have to stay true to yourself. However, as you get to know yourself better, it is also essential to constantly grow and see you strengths and weaknesses clearly instead of just blindly pushing through.”
To young people who want to pursue a street dance career, Xiao Jie offers this advice: “You have to be dedicated and remain humble. Also, you need to be confident. When you find yourself on stage, no matter how you dance, you first need to have the courage to dance, the courage to express your shameless side, courage to take this step. “But if you are always living in fear, thinking that you need your dance to be perfect before performing, you’ll never get close to the stage.”
Yuan Hetang: Yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine Pioneer
“Seeking the essence of Chinese culture by teaching traditional medicine and yoga”
Besides my job, I enjoy traditional handicrafts. Because I’m a teacher, I spend many hours talking. Therefore, I am always looking forward to my time off work when I no longer need to speak. Creating anything with my hands is the best way to fulfil this longing for silence. I have visited many artisans who engage in the ancient practice of incense-making, and they passed it on to me. They create the healing aromas by following the traditional methods rigorously, and the fragrances are made by hand. In my spare time, I light a stick of this incense, brew some tea and practice Taichi: That’s the real pleasure of life. If I could learn just one more skill, it would be painting. As the Buddhists say, “Mind, just like the painter, can paint the different worlds.”
I really wish I could draw out all the beautiful paintings I have experienced in my mind and share them with people. I also love travelling, and you could say I’m always on the road. This is because of my work commitments. I frequently travel for shoots and lectures. After arriving at a new place, I like to stroll around a bit and experience the local customs. However, what I enjoy most is not related to business travel. Every year, I forget my work, put on my backpack, and head out alone to the Zhongnan Mountains. I go there to do Zazen in an ancient temple. Exploring the valleys on my own is my travelling pastime.
“I hope to collaborate with brands that put quality first and value aesthetics.”
Some brands that have repeatedly sought me out for collaborations include COFCO, Beijing Enterprises, Chow Tai Fook, Li-Ning, The Palace Museum, and Huawei. I like to work with brands that put quality first, emphasise aesthetics and values, and are positive about life. In tech, I would love to work with Xiaomi, mostly because their designs are down-to-earth, practical, and aesthetically pleasing. They’re minimalist yet high-quality. The company works on making our lives more convenient as well as allowing us to enjoy the pleasures of technology. This is the direction I have always worked towards in my yoga practice. For sports brands, I would like to work with Adidas the most. I have always loved the idea of yoga clothing that could express the spirit of Chinese culture.
Miniie: The Kardashian Fitness KOL
I’m a cheerful, sunny person, and I’m good at noticing the tiny, beautiful details of everyday life and sending positive energy.
I started exercising in 2013. I’ve been sharing my everyday achievements and improvements on Weibo since then. I noticed how my body has slowly begun to change – especially my booty curves. Fans started asking for advice more often, so I started live-streaming. I’ve used this as a platform to share my fitness experience, hoping to help them achieve their fitness goals.
“I incorporate fitness and fashion”
Having worked as a fitness KOL for so many years, I can say there are two types of fitness KOLs. First is the professional fitness KOL, this fitness KOL is from works at becoming a bodybuilder. The second is health and lifestyle KOLs, and this fitness KOL shares advice about fitness and jogging. I, on the other hand, try to incorporate the idea of fitness into fashion by breaking the primitive and outdated belief that fitness is all about muscle. I like to bring the concept of aesthetics to my fans instead.
“Brand products are gifts to my followers”
Of course, I collaborate with some fitness brands I personally trust and events I approve of. I’ve worked with New Balance, Nike, Color Run, and others. Often, I give away some of the brand products as gifts, as well as some items I use every day.
My most memorable experience working with a brand was my very first collaboration. I went to Jeju Island to film but the weather was not great, and we shot while I was completely soaked from the rain. Despite this, I unexpectedly received some really good feedback from the brand. The life of the modern KOL is hard yet, at the same time, happy. I hope my sunny personality rubs off on those around me.
“When my fans created a WeChat fan group, that made me feel so loved”
Two years ago, when the live-streaming trend started, I jumped on the bandwagon out of curiosity and started attracting attention. Fans really engaged with me and that kept me motivated. They even created a WeChat fan group where I could reply to their questions about fitness. They kept pulling more people into the group, and the whole thing moved me deeply. That made me put all my heart into my social media account, and I found myself making headlines on WeChat. After a while, I moved my fans to my Weibo page, where I post fitness photos, stories, and videos. I also do giveaways to show gratitude to my fans. I feel incredible warmth towards them. Sometimes during live-streaming haters try to ruin the session, but my fans always stand up and support me in fending them off. It makes me feel.
I always stay true to myself, maintain my works’ original vision, and – instead of tons of brand collaborations – I focus on sharing my daily routines with fans.
Mu Tong: Sharing Positivity Through Dance
Some brands I’ve worked with are Adidas Originals, KOD, Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss, and PEACEBIRD. When choosing a partner, I normally look for trending brands. Of course, I look forward to cooperating with other kinds of brands too.
“Dance is my best friend”
I come from a generation that was influenced by Michael Jackson and H.O.T., a Korean idol group. At that time, I was still in middle school, and we all thought they were super cool. We dreamed about dancing like them. When I started dancing, I realised that dance is my best friend. I think dance is the closest you can get to your truest potential. When dancing, you become immersed in it, surrender, and forget about everything else.
“Follow your heart and stay true to yourself”
I’m a candid person who jokes around a lot, and I’m really enjoying life at the moment. My work lets me share my life and thoughts with lots of friends and dance lets me bring positive energy to my fans.
My fans are mostly girls. I often chat with everybody in the fan group chats and live-stream to build a more personal relationship with them. Occasionally, I do lotteries and prize giveaways to show my gratitude for their support. Some of my fans want to become dancers and build careers as KOLs too. I tell them often that I hope they follow their hearts, be themselves, and commit to doing what they enjoy. It may not be easy at the beginning, but you will certainly get there if you don’t give up.