Live-streaming in China and How to Get in on the Action

May 3, 2018

Powered by advanced cloud technology, smartphones and the optional accessory of an adjustable selfie-stick, live-streaming is taking Chinese content consumers by storm.

 A Credit Suisse report, made available in September 2016, placed the personal live-streaming market in China to climb to 5 billion USD in value in 2017. Interestingly, this number is only $2 billion USD shy of matching the value of China’s film industry!

 The fast adoption of live-streaming in China should come as no surprise given China’s appetite for online entertainment. China is a global leader in the consumption of video-on-demand (VOD) according to a recent Nielsen study. According to the report, “China is at the forefront of this digital trend, with more than 4 out of 5 respondents (84%) saying that they watch some type of VOD programming. This is far greater than the number of global respondents (65%), across 61 countries that said the same.”

Live-streaming is the fastest growing digital marketing channels in China. It grew initially as a form of online entertainment and a medium for individuals to share their personal lives – everything from singing, to eating, gaming and even sleeping. However, live-streaming is increasingly becoming a platform for education, business, communication and marketing. Streaming in China is also closely intertwined with ecommerce, where live hosts promote and demonstrate products in real-time to up to hundreds of thousands of users.

But you don’t need to be an actor to put yourself in front of an audience to push products. Everyday people in China have turned themselves into online celebrities with next to no formal training. After building up their own organic following and a loyal audience, they are now receiving offers from small to large brands to promote products to their online following through affiliate marketing.

Taobao Live Streaming Platform

Alibaba’s Taobao Live, for example, provides a platform for Taobao merchants to engage popular live-streamers to promote products to their followers. Through online demonstration or direct sales pitches, users can follow notifications that appear on their screen and follow prompts to purchase. Integrating live-streaming into the ecommerce sales funnel has been found to accelerate lead generation, improve trust, and ultimately convert more sales. Taobao Live has a conversion rate on live-streamed content of up to 32 percent.

The cosmetics company Maybelline is one exponent of the hot live-stream marketing that provides a key case study for foreign brands. In April 2016, Maybelline engaged the prominent Chinese celebrity Angelababy to air a live press conference for their new lipstick product line on a number of live-streaming platforms. The live press conference was supported by a HTML5 platform designed specially for the event as well as ad space on the home pages of major ecommerce platforms like Tmall. The HTML5 website consolidated streams of Angelababy and 50 other online celebrities from different angles of the event. The streamed press conference went on to attract more than 5 million views on Tencent Live, 80,000 views on Meipai, and 150,000 views on Panda TV and earned the company 1.42 million RMB in direct revenue.

Streaming is also expanding into other industries, and breaking down geographical barriers. Real estate agents, for example, can connect buyers with potential homes vast distances away through streamed house tours of apartments as far as Melbourne and Vancouver. Even isolated farms in China’s Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang regions can now be reached through live-streaming on a number of app-based marketplaces to purchase livestock.  Emubao is one of the numerous apps connecting users to livestock available for purchase on the app. App users can select their choice of farm, and watch live-streamed video content of sheep standing in a paddock before they make their purchase on Monday morning at market day.

Chinese consumers pay considerable attention to product safety, quality and authenticity, and live-streaming provides a reliable channel to validate products, real estate and even livestock. The ability for users to see what they want to buy with their own eyes in real-time is a powerful sales conversion tool.

With the high barriers of entry to establishing an on-the-ground presence in China, live-streaming platforms offer an affordable starting point to building a brand following in China or for tapping into existing online groups through cooperation with prominent online celebrities.

Did you get excited? Talk to us to find out more about how you can integrate live-streaming into your own brand development in China.

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