BEIJING: Dior, Gucci and Chanel are among the luxury, beauty and fashion brands gaining the strongest traction with key opinion leaders (KOLs) on social media in China, according to a study that highlights the importance of this marketing channel.

Consulting firm R3 partnered with analytics business Bomoda to identify the country's leading 400 influencers and celebrities on WeChat and Weibo, based on a consistent methodology of indexing mentions, reads, likes, reports, sentiment and overall engagement.

Dior emerged as the most consistent brand across the four platforms covered in the analysis, particularly with regard to Weibo, followed by Gucci and Chanel

Gucci led the way on WeChat, while Louis Vuitton, ranked fourth, also performed strongly among WeChat bloggers and celebrities, but failed to achieve similar results on Weibo.

The study concluded that not all brands were generating optimal ROI from their KOL strategies, but that those that were had gained significant advantages against their rivals.

"Managing KOLs in China today is like managing TV media investment in the 20th century," said Sabrina Lee, managing director of R3 China.

"You need to build relationships, brand synergy and above all, you need to carefully track the ROI of each KOL."

Brian Buchwald, co-founder and CEO of Bomoda, added that "there is a lot of hearsay and rumours surrounding the efficacy of individual KOLs and the practice of employing them. We sought to cut through this with comprehensive objective analysis".

That analysis showed the top WeChat blogger to be FashionWeek, a fashion-related public account with a general focus, while Taiwanese actor Huo Jianhua was the leading WeChat celebrity.

On Weibo, Janicekidd emerged as the top opinion leader on cosmetics, perfume and accessories, while former boy-band singer Lu Han was the foremost celebrity.

Data sourced from R3; additional content by Warc staff