Livestreaming has already been a growing trend in China for a while, but it has grown exponentially since the COVID-19 outbreak. At this point, should we consider livestreaming as the future of e-commerce? Let’s start from the beginning:
What Is A Livestream?
Livestreaming in e-commerce emerged in 2014 when Moguje, a Chinese fashion e-commerce platform, started experimenting with it, while soon after, Alibaba’s Taobao, which is the world’s biggest e-commerce website, followed suit with its own livestreaming channels.
At the very beginning, a livestream was mainly represented by hosts who were trying on different types of clothes, while giving viewers the opportunity to interact live about adding different accessorizes or with specific questions about fabrics and style.
Today, online shopping in China has become an increasingly social experience with popular celebrities livestreaming their shopping experiences. The hosts of which are now Key Opinion Influencers and Leaders (KOCs and KOLs), along with some of the most popular actors and singers, who are paid to promote different products and brands.
Livestream In Numbers
China’s livestreaming industry was already the largest in the world before the COVID-19 outbreak, but since then, it has received an unexpected boost that has transformed to become the main obsession of marketers.
The number of users within China has increased 10.6% year on year to 504 million in 2019 and, even before the virus, it was estimated that the figure will reach 526 million in 2020. At the same time, China’s livestreaming market reached approximately 90 billion RMB and will most likely crush the 112 billion RMB projections originally made for 2020.
To give you an example, for Singles Day 2019 (11.11) Alibaba’s livestreaming generated 20 billion RMB (US$2.9 billion), accounting for around 7.5% of the group’s overall RMB 268.4 billion in sales for the whole shopping holiday.
More recently, on February 10th, Alibaba announced that it will waive normal requirements for offline store operators across the country to join Taobao Live and made operational tools free of charge. This decision resulted in a growth in new streamers eight times higher than in previous months, and orders surging by an average of 20% each week.
Livestreaming’s 5 Disrupting Players
Following Alibaba’s incredible success on Taobao, almost all of China’s major e-commerce companies are getting on board or are making plans to join livestreaming platforms.
Taobao Live is one of the biggest Chinese livestreaming platforms both in terms of the number of merchants and overall user base. Its audience is mostly made up of females between 18-34 years old, who are particularly attracted to categories such as clothing, beauty products, food and accessorizes.
Kuaishou first entered the livestreaming world in 2017, but it grew extremely fast until eventually reaching incredibly successful conversion rates for its livestreams. The user ratio is more balanced than Taobao, with around 54% male and 46% female users between 25-50 years old, with the majority of them coming from third and fourth-tier cities.
Douyin is a newcomer, but its disruptive success achieved in the past few months will likely further boost its livestream positioning. Its 400 million daily active users are mostly located in first and second-tier cities, and appear to be interested in limited editions and products on sale, possibly up to 200 RMB.
Xiaohongshu launched its livestreaming platform at the beginning of 2020 and it is structured differently from its competitors. In fact, by virtue of being an app used for other purposes such as product reviews and lifestyle inspiration, the success of a livestream depends on the KOL’s fan base and loyalty within its community.
Weibo joined the competition by upgrading to e-commerce livestreaming services, with a service platform linked to Taobao. The user base ratio is equally split, with most of its users coming from first-tier cities, and they seem to be particularly interested in clothing, cosmetics and daily necessities.
To find out more about how to promote your products on e-commerce livestreaming platforms, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Eastant team at email@example.com.