Livestream shopping, also known as live shopping, livestream broadcast or livestreaming, has been around in China on major e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and JD.com since 2016. At its core, livestream shopping is similar to television shopping networks or infomercials that some of you might be familiar with. However, it has evolved to fit with the world of digital and to fit the needs of the modern consumer: it’s hosted live online with interactive components that cannot be replicated by TV shopping networks or a simple shopping page with texts and images.

“Why should we consider livestreaming as part of our marketing strategy in China?” you might wonder. In short, for many Chinese consumers, livestream shopping is an integral part of the retail experience. Even before COVID-19, livestream shopping was gaining a lot of momentum and becoming the mainstream method of shopping. The number of livestreaming users reached a remarkable 560 million in China as of March 2020, accounting for over 60% of the country’s total number of internet users. The nationwide lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic forced brands to re-focus their strategies and find new ways to gain visibility, enhance brand-consumer interactions, and increase online conversions via unconventional means to make up their offline losses. This, in turn contributed to the popularity of livestream shopping even further. For this reason, if you are a brand looking to expand in China, you should arm your marketing strategy with livestream shopping, which will help prepare you to make the most of market opportunities and thrive even when others are struggling.

We have gathered six key facts about livestream shopping below to help you familiarize yourself with this latest trend in e-commerce, and identify how you could best incorporate it into your marketing strategy in China.

1. Female Gen Z and millennial consumers are avid livestream shoppers
Female Generation Z and millennial consumers make up the majority of the livestream shopping audiences. They’re very receptive to input from influencers, and are more likely than other audiences to make purchasing decisions based on this information. Specifically, Taobao Live reported that its typical audience is between 18-34 years old, with more than 70% female. If your target audience aligns with this type of consumer, you should invest time in researching and carefully examining livestreaming as an option for your brand.

2. Top-selling items have high purchase frequency, high margins, and low basket prices
Because livestream e-commerce is often characterized by fast-paced sharing, live demonstrations and limited-time offers, much of the purchases are impulse buys. Consumers are more likely to watch, click, and buy via livestreaming if the item has a lower price point – food and beverage, fashion, mass market personal care and beauty, and household and cleaning products, to name a few. Particularly, livestream-promoted beauty and cosmetics products have seen significant success, making up 33% of total SKUs and 92% of total GMV. Therefore, promoting your brand and products via livestreaming will attract customers who are likely to turn into brand advocates, eventually helping your brand capture more market share.

3. Using the livestreaming feature on major e-commerce channels maximizes exposure
In order to maximize brand visibility and drive more conversions, it is recommended that brands start their livestreaming on major e-commerce platforms, such as Taobao and Xiaohongshu. These are great livestreaming venues because consumers often visit these platforms for inspiration, product discovery and research, and launching livestreams there means maximizing the chances of your brand and products reaching a wide audience. Another added advantage is that these platforms offer a seamless, frictionless experience to their users by directing traffic to either the larger commerce ecosystem or the brand’s in-platform store, so they will never have to leave the app to make a purchase. Easy for consumers, and easy for the brands.

4. Livestream shopping is a good strategy for both short-term sales tactics and long-term brand building
Because livestreaming typically offers limited-time, attractive discounts, it is a useful tactic for driving customers to the brand’s channel and boosting short-term sales. But beyond short-term sales, livestreaming fosters brand-consumer interactions by allowing brands to tell more complete and compelling brand stories and demonstrate their products in a better way, while enabling customers to ask real-time questions and make instant comments about the brand and products, effectively increasing brand-consumer engagement. This accessibility helps brands stay top-of-mind through the consumer journey, bringing consumers closer to the brand and cultivating brand loyalty.

5. Leverage livestream shopping to turbocharge your influencer marketing
It is widely known that Chinese consumers trust influencer reviews and recommendations more than they do traditional advertisements or branded content. As such, influencer marketing has become more competitive than ever among brands, which makes livestreaming an excellent, differentiated approach to elevating your brand and driving conversions. Research reveals that about 30% of internet users in China have made purchases via live broadcasts that link directly to product pages. So, it is tremendously useful to combine powerful storytelling content with images and texts across social media channels and livestreaming to strengthen brand awareness and conversions.

6. Keep the livestreaming at around 30 minutes to keep the audience engaged
Given the busy lifestyle of Chinese consumers, they have rather short attention spans online, even for the most intriguing content. Therefore, besides ensuring the livestream broadcast is fun and engaging to watch, it is also imperative to keep it short and sweet, ideally at less than 30 minutes, so that you do not risk causing fatigue for both the shopper and the host doing the livestreaming. It also helps to insert appropriate jokes and consistently but subtly remind the audience of the buying opportunities throughout the livestreaming to enhance engagement and conversion rates.

We hope the above key facts helped shed light on livestreaming e-commerce for your brand in China! While you’re navigating how to implement livestreaming, keep in mind that it should serve as a complement to your overall marketing strategy, rather than as the only channel. There’s much more to thriving as a brand in China – it takes a lot of strategic planning and relevant expertise to achieve unprecedented success in China, especially in this challenging time. Regardless of what stage you are in for your journey into China, IMS has your back.

Get in touch with us today and find out how we can best support you to reach, engage, and covert consumers and achieve long-term, sustainable growth for your business.