Livestreaming is a new way of communicating and interacting with existing and new customers. It’s engaging, fun and connects the consumer with the host. If you are promoting your products, interacting through video in real-time, can increase brand awareness and the consumers can get a better understanding of your products. It also brings a sense of community, and establishes trust and transparency between the consumers and the brand. Live shopping is livestreaming with commerce integrated.
Livestream means broadcasting in real-time to your target audience. In China, livestreaming has become a form of entertainment and by integrating the social aspect of shopping, and you are potentially reaching millions of Chinese consumers. Livestreaming is a great ‘tool’ for companies to promote products and showcase its use. From video, consumers can take a good look at the design, size and material. Livestreaming is not only a way to increase sale, but its a powerful way to increase brand awareness. At the same time, you are engaging with the staff in real-time, and build a sense of trust, which you will not get while looking at static pictures online. Today, we see livestreaming is popular among cosmetic brands and fashion, but it has also started to gain traction in real estate and automotive. The bottom line is: livestreaming can work in any industry and its an engaging way of communicating with customers in real-time.
Livestreaming started in China in 2014/2015, with the platforms Taobao and Mogujie. Over the past few years livestreaming has grown to become an important part of companies digital marketing strategy, as it connects with the users and potentially increase the overall sales.
Livestreaming in China today
Livestreaming accounts for about 9% of total e-commerce sales according to Jing Daily, a leading digital publication in China. Today there are several platforms offering livestreaming, but the market leaders are (percentage of all e-commerce live-streaming transactions):
- Taobao Live (79%)
- Douyin (13%)
- Kuaishou (8%)
Taobao Live is by far the dominating livestreaming platform, which is Alibaba Group’s dedicated livestreaming channel. However, we see that more companies are launching their own streaming services to embrace this trend. JD.com has recently launched their own livestreaming service on their platform to boost sales. Xiaohongshu and Pinduoduo are social commerce platforms that are also experimenting with livestreaming to attract consumers. Another growing and active video platform is BiliBili, with focus on beauty and cosmetics, in addition to their manga emphasis.
When we hear about livestreaming in China, we often come across Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs). KOLs are similar to influencers in the West, while KOCs are people with not as many followers, but experts and loyal customers who act as ambassadors for brands to promote products to the market. Both KOLs and KOCs are important elements to consider if you want to enter the Chinese market. A solid digital marketing strategy is essential in thriving in the worlds most competitive market, and picking the right KOLs and KOCs, can potentially connect your brand with millions of Chinese consumers.
Live shopping in Brick & Mortar
Livestreaming has also been leveraged by retailers in physical stores that are experiencing empty stores and no traffic. Staff in-store are using livestream to promote and sell products on platforms such as Taobao and Douyin.
Livestreaming in the West
In the West, livestreaming has not taken off as it has in China. Facebook live, Instagram live and Youtube live are all offering livestreaming, but does not embed shopping and “check out” feature in the streaming window, also called live shopping. In China you can shop directly in the streaming session by clicking on the products you see – so called “see now buy now” feature. There are now companies in the West that are starting to experiment with this “see now buy now” feature, and the corona-pandemic has accelerated these initiatives. Kjell and company is one company in the West that has launched live shopping on their website. They have even an own video library where you can see past video sessions for you to learn more about the products.
The combination of livestreaming and ecommerce is powerful and it is here to stay. How companies leverage this tool to their advantage is based of a solid communication strategy as you have three main phases in livestreaming: pre-live, live, post-live. All these phases play a crucial role in how you connect with your customers. This will also have a direct impact on the conversion rate.