What is Kuaishou?
Updated: Apr 18, 2021
Kuaishou, another short-form video platform similar to Tik Tok, is the second most popular short video app in China with over 300 million DAU, following Douyin. After growing mostly from popularity in China’s rural areas and lower-tier cities, Kuaishou moved into live streaming, e-commerce, and long-form videos in the face of more competition. Before 2019, both Kuaishou and Douyin are mostly used for entertainment and time-killing purposes, but 2019 was a major turning point as there was an apparent shift to being a significant battlefield to market and sell products.
~70% of the short video app users are from tier-two and lower cities. The breakdown is more geared towards lower-tier cities for Kuaishou with only ~15% of its users from tier-one cities.
With competition increasing in the short video space, Kuaishou eventually grew to include elements of social media, e-commerce and live-streaming. In 2018, Kuaishou started allowing certain users to open up “little shops,” allowing users and merchants to link to products from Alibaba’s Taobao and other e-commerce platforms. The bet on e-commerce turns out to have been a good one and a boon for people with a large number of followers. In one case, the platform’s top influencer, who has more than 40 million followers, sold ~US$7.2 million worth of goods in 3 hours during Kuaishou’s e-commerce festival. To encourage people to spend more time on the platform, Kuaishou has also started allowing longer videos. The company is starting to depart from its 57-second limit, allowing some users to upload videos as long as 10 minutes.
Kuaishou has also been seeing success in live streaming, especially streaming video game content. By July 2019, Kuaishou said its Twitch-like live-streaming service for games had 35 million daily active users (DAUs), which is more DAUs than rivals Huya and Douyu.
As Kuaishou continue its monetization initiatives, it also made some strategic updates. Recently, it has announced a strategic partnership with Jing Dong (JD.com), another e-commerce giant, and a direct rival of Alibaba. With this partnership, Kuaishou users can complete the purchase on JD.com without leaving the Kuaishou app during livestreaming sessions. This aligns with the strategic goal of Jing Dong to develop more users in lower-tier companies as they present the most significant growth opportunity in e-commerce. Many overseas brands should probably consider this while making decisions on the platform to work with to promote and sell products.
Differences between Kuaishou & Douyin
Relationship-based vs. algorithm-driven content distribution
According to Huang Hai, from the VC firm Frees Fund, Kuaishou’s main “Discover” section distributes 40-50% of the content from accounts that the user already follows. In contrast, Douyin will show 80 to 90% of the content from new accounts, which are popular among other users.Douyin has more users living in tier 1 and tier 2 cities. These users are more likely attracted to high-quality content. Thus Douyin will display the best and most viral content to entertain urban users. This emphasis on beauty translates to professional content with viral nature created often by top KOLs. Kuaishou has more followers living in villages, with a tighter social circle. Mundane content created by someone who they might know offline is still interesting.
Since Kuaishou users live in smaller communities, Kuaishou content is distributed based on users’ social relationships. The content on Kuaishou, therefore, has a higher engagement rate compared to Douyin.
More live-streaming on Kuaishou
Kuaishou has 50% live-streaming content in its Local Content section, Douyin only has 25%. Kuaishou users are more likely to start or watch a live-stream. The top-ranking live-streaming is often not the most popular one, and often only has less than 5 viewers. The viewers can thus engage with live-stream hosts on a more personal level.
Kuaishou’s live-streaming has quite a lot of features. For example, you can sing Karaoke with the audience from your city listening-in. Many live-streaming hosts allow call-in to a chat room. Some live-streaming thus become a casual chatroom of 2 strangers. Kuaishou even provides a chatroom for up to 6 users to co-host the live-streaming. Each chatroom has its own rule, often sending specific gifts in exchange for asking the host to give a performance (such as singing a song, sharing their personal WeChat account, or private messaging).
Kuaishou is a stronger relationship based platform, thus the e-commerce conversion rate on Kuaishou is higher than on Douyin. According to Kuaishou Report by Frees Fund, Kuaishou’s e-commerce conversion is 5 to 10 times higher compared to Douyin. The monthly sales via the Kuaishou platform in 2019 reached more than 10 billion RMB.
For example, 9 out of 10 top-selling Taobao third-party live streaming during the Double 11 (excluding native live-stream from Taobao) last year were from Kuaishou. Only one of them was from Douyin.Many top-selling Kuaishou influencers are owners of small businesses or factories. They often create content related to their day to day business. For example, the production steps for packing a product. This type of content creates trust from the users, thus is more likely to convert into sales. Not all kinds of products sell well on Kuaishou. The top 3 categories of products sold on Kuaishou are low-price cosmetics, clothing, and food.