Live-streaming marketeers, some glib, hit pay dirt

Huang Yixuan
Live-streaming has boosted China's e-commerce in recent years and become a hot topic in daily conversations.
Huang Yixuan

"All you girls! Get ready. . . Three, two, one!” Believe it or not, these simple words can lead to a massive sales surge in hundreds of thousands of yuan in mere seconds.

That is the power of live-streaming sales, a new pattern of online sales in China.

Live-streaming has boosted e-commerce in recent years and become a hot topic in daily conversations.

Li Jiaqi, with over 13 million followers on Alibaba’s live-streaming platform Taobao Live and over 35 million followers on TikTok, is among the top so-called “influencers” in this emerging industry.

The media has dubbed him “the king of lipstick” because Li once sold more than 15,000 tubes of lipsticks in five minutes during a live-streaming promotion.

Li’s “magical” pet phrases in his broadcasts — such as “All you girls!” and “Oh my god! Buy it!” — have become catchphrases on social media.

That such simple words can snare such attention of such a massive number of consumers has led to a lot of discussion on social media.

Some netizens have jokingly suggested that Li should become a navigation voice so that they won’t ever get lost again.

This subsequently became a trending topic on Weibo, with some leading map companies saying that they would take such a suggestion into account. Li later revealed that AutoNavi Software Co, which has a map app called Amap, had made contact with him to discuss a potential deal.

On the eve of the recent Singles Day sales campaign, more than 36 million people tuned in to watch Li sell his wares.

A 25-year-old woman surnamed Zheng, who was among the watchers, said the major reason why she stuck with the live-streaming is the belief that she could get bigger discounts than on any other sales channels.

Meanwhile, another of Li’s followers, 29-year-old Yan, said his catchphrases and the way he promotes products arouses her desire to purchase.

"The format of live-streaming fuels an urgency because most special offers are for only a limited time,” Yan said.

A new trend

Taobao Live has become a new trend of Singles Day, said Huang Shuyan, an analyst at Great Wall Securities.

More than 50 percent of brands seized the opportunities presented by Taobao Live broadcasts during this year’s Singles Day, which led to nearly 20 billion yuan (US$2.84 billion) in sales, according to Tmall.

In the category of beauty products, sales driven by live-streaming accounted for 16 percent of total sales in the sector. The home decor and consumer electronics sectors, meanwhile, quadrupled sales from live-streaming.

“Taobao Live could be an important tool in connecting new retail and new manufacturing,” said Zhao Yuanyuan, operating chief of Taobao Live. “Content e-commerce is the future of e-commerce.”

And for Taobao Live, there’s promotional content, professional content and entertainment content, which aims to integrate traditional offline shopping malls with the Taobao ecosystem, according to Zhao.

The live-streaming market has grown at a tremendous pace, thanks to advanced Internet technology and a vibrant consumer market. Laws and regulations on live-streaming sales are expected to be enacted to safeguard consumers’ rights and steer the new industry.

As a first step, the National Radio and Television Administration recently circulated a document forbidding e-commerce platforms and live-streaming programs from exaggerating claims about the products they promote, and from swindling or misleading consumers.

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