• Kelly Hu, Doris Ke

A New Type of Influencer Marketing for Brands Who Have An Eye For China

Updated: May 20

While many brands are partnering with influencers on platforms such as Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, e-commerce live streaming, a new type of influencer marketing has taken off in China. Many well-known beauty brands have already taken advantage of this new type of influencer marketing. For instance, YSL sold 30,000 lipsticks during a live streaming session during the double 11 shopping festival (similar to Black Friday), and Kim Kardashian appeared in a session hosted by Viya, a top livestreaming KOL, and sold out 150,000 bottles of KKW perfumes in 1 minute few days before that. Additionally, Estee Lauder sold $58,000 worth of liquid foundations in 10 minutes in another session. The top e-commerce livestreaming KOLs can sell anything, from skincare products to luxury bags and even real estate. As people were quarantined at home over the past couple of months due to the pandemic, more celebrities and influencers have joined forces to be a livestreamer selling products on e-commerce platforms, while livestreaming has become a staple on Tmall (Chinese Amazon) where you can see it on many product page. This marked the dawn of a new era in influencer marketing in China - the livestreaming e-commerce era.

What is livestreaming e-commerce?

E-commerce live streaming, similar to a live QVC to some people, is a combination of Instagram Live + Amazon. But there's also more to it. A successful livestreaming session usually encloses three parts: warm-up, show-time, and aftereffect. During the warm-up period, a livestreamer and associated brands advertise or notify the consumers numerous about the upcoming livestreaming sessions, sometimes with a sneak peek of the products or discounts. During the session, livestreamer would introduce, demonstrate, and test the products (if possible), leaving viewers a direct impression of the products. Next, the livestreamer employs a form of hunger marketing, including limited time, limited stock, a special discount, or any combination of them to provoke the urgency to purchase on the spot, usually involves a countdown. Afterward, livestreamer or brands would market again about the result and summary of the session so that some regretful customers who missed the opportunity to buy will buy something else from the brand or participate in another livestreaming session. Nonetheless, brands typically achieve both brand-marketing and product-selling goals through a successful livestreaming session.

The reasons behind the e-commerce livestreaming?

Audience & bargain mentality: Tmall is the first e-commerce website which launched the livestreaming function. The initial audience who watch livestreaming sessions are people from lower-tier cities who care about discounts and have plenty of time to view the livestreaming for the special discounts. As mentioned previously, hunger marketing is utilized heavily where the KOLs will announce some sort of "flash sale" during live streaming. However, as more and more KOLs, celebrities, and platforms such as Douyin (Chinese version of TikTok), Kuaishou (short-form video app similar to TikTok) took part in the livestreaming e-commerce business, the audience has expanded to fans and later to almost everyone.

Time Confetti: efficiency is another factor that drives consumers to shop through livestreaming e-commerce. They can discover and learn about a product quickly and directly, get their questions and concerns answered right away, and save the time that's required to research the reviews and search for the best price. Video and livestreaming formats not only allow consumers to experience the product almost first-hand instantly but also provide the visual stimulation and interactions with livestreaming KOLs, accelerating the decision-making process for consumers. Building credibility among the viewers is another crucial factor to a livestreamer's success in selling products. The livestreamer who already established a credible image among the consumers usually eliminates the need to search for reviews.

Evolution: To meet consumers' needs for a more direct and interactive shopping experience, livestreaming e-commerce, is a product of the booming e-commerce sector and the thriving short-form video apps. Influencer livestreaming e-commerce ecosystem in China equals a combination of Instagram, Amazon, and Paypal all-in-one experience, where the viewer can follow KOLs, shop the products the KOLs recommend and, pay for them on the spot. This has already transformed the economy into an experiencing one, where it broke the barrier between products/brands and consumers. Consumers can efficiently experience the products while the brands/sellers benefit from it with instant feedback and selling much faster. Livestreaming has become a staple on Tmall like the video demonstration of product on Amazon. For example, if you go to a product page, many products have a sign of livestreaming where you can check out someone demonstrating the product. More platforms are following suit to offer livestreaming option to sell products like Tmall as the market is thriving, and the trend is continuing. As 5G technology further matures and spreads, livestreaming will be even more eminent for selling products.

How can brands benefit from this trend?

Every brand can benefit from this trend to sell more and sell faster. As mentioned earlier, livestreaming becomes a staple in e-commerce and people are embracing the format, hence no brand is too big or too small for it. From apparel to the luxury product, brands can target differently according to their brand image. For example, the livestreaming session might be a window for brand awareness for a Louis Vuitton purse. Even though it probably won't sell as much as any cosmetics products, there will be some positive spillover effect that increases both brand awareness and search for other products in that brand. Through livestreaming, brands can also leverage the opportunity to communicate more efficiently with consumers, where they can receive live feedback and questions during the sessions and offer answers. This not only shortens the consumers' decision-making process substantially but also improves the selling efficiency for brands. As Instagram pushes its Live function, and Amazon also launched the Livestream function for US sellers, the livestreaming era might already be upon us in the US as well.

In the following articles, we will introduce the top e-commerce livestreaming KOLs and share more about China-specific digital marketing insights and analysis.

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