Brands combine live streaming and online gaming to sell in China


China’s $ 210 million fine for tax evasion against Viya, an Internet celebrity dubbed the “queen of live streaming”, underscores how quickly the industry has become one of the country’s most popular distribution channels in just a few short years.
Top Western brands from L’Oreal to Louis Vuitton are hiring live streamers to help market products on China’s leading e-commerce platforms, and analysts now describe this as essential to a brand’s strategy in the world’s second largest economy.

Where everything began
The first company to combine live streaming online and shopping in China was the Taobao marketplace of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, which launched Taobao Live in 2016.
The platform enables influencers to open their own live streaming channels on Taobao, where they can market a wide range of products, from cosmetics to clothing and snacks to cars. Viya even sold a rocket launch service for 40 million yuan ($ 6.3 million) last year.
Brands also host regular live streams, usually anchored by employees or likely lesser-known influencers, in their own self-run online stores on Taobao and Tmall, another Alibaba marketplace.

Why it’s so popular
Moderators speak to online shoppers, answering questions about size, color, and fit in real time, engaging them with a chatty, informal approach, and also encouraging quick purchases with limited-time discounts.

A big attraction is that everything takes place on a single mobile app interface – buyers can watch the live stream on the same page, ask questions and click to buy.
Some of the personalities, particularly top sellers like Viya and her main competitor Li Jiaqi, have also become hugely popular as they are viewed by consumers as credible intermediaries after previous scandals over product quality and counterfeit goods left a lot of suspicion about the brands’ claims .
Top influencers are also developing their own popularity with buyers and brands. Viya’s image has become that of a reliable, kind “sister,” while the excitement of Li Jiaqi’s catchphrase, “Oh my God, buy it!” Appeals to many.

Placing a product on their livestreams is seen as a great sign of confidence in the quality, say consumers and brands.

Li has 47 million followers on his Taobao livestream room and Viya had more than 90 million followers before her room closed.

How big is it in China
The pandemic was a big boost for the live streaming industry, fueling demand for online entertainment and shopping services. In addition to the big names, there are now thousands of live streaming anchors in China. Last year, iiMedia Research stated that there were more than 28,000 so-called multi-channel network agencies in China, each of which tends to manage multiple online influencers. Many e-commerce platforms, including Douyin from ByteDance, the Chinese counterpart to TikTok, Kuaishou, and Pinduoduo, now offer their users the opportunity to shop via live stream. Douyin is hugely popular and a sharp rival to Taobao on that front.
The types of hosts in China are also very different. Farmers to factory owners, government officials to the bosses of top Chinese companies like travel giant have all appeared on live streams to sell products.

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