The term streaming in the Western world is still mostly associated with games and entertainment, but in China this concept has gone far ahead. There are already more than 200 different platforms in the country that allow streaming in one form or another. After all, they have become not only the main video format, but also the main sales tool.
Maybe you heard that one Chinese blogger sold red lipsticks for a record 145 million US dollars during a stream? The Asia Pacific team will talk about the phenomenon of live streaming in China and why it is so important for foreign business.
China has become a pioneer of live streaming over the past few years. China Network Internet Information Center published data that the number of Chinese users who watch streams in 2019 exceeded . 430 million.
Streaming in China has developed in the same way as in the West. Initially, there was no financial interest – bloggers just wanted to share with their subscribers what was happening right now. But now video streaming is a kind of parody of homeshopping. Opinion leaders show and talk about products in real time. Viewers, in turn, have the opportunity to get to know the products better, see how they can be used and instantly make a purchase using the built-in link to the store.
The pandemic and coronavirus have further affected the development of online shopping. In just the first half of 2020, the Chinese live streaming market grew to 456 billion RMB or 70 billion USD. Live streaming can officially be called the main shopping channel in the country, and ignoring it is a big omission for foreign companies.
Almost every social network in China has its own version and streaming function. Even simple messengers like WeChat have already integrated streaming into their ecosystem. Which of the platforms to use is up to you to decide. We will highlight the most significant players in this article.
The Chinese version of Tiktok, which has overtaken many of its local and Western competitors. Douyin was created in 2016 and started as a program for sharing short videos. Now it has more than 400 million monthly active users and has ceased to be just a social network.
Thanks to integration with the largest e-commerce platforms, Douyin allows selling without leaving the application. It is possible to provide direct links to Taobao in the video with a product and broadcast them immediately during the stream. There is also a unique system of donations. Donations are money that is credited first to the wallet, where it is converted into coins. In the form of coins such money can be transferred to bloggers to express gratitude.
The main audience comprises people living in large cities of tier 1 and 2, such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Qingdao, etc.
Luo Yonghao, ex-founder of smartphone company Smartisan and an opinion leader in the technology industry, during his first stream sold electronics brand products worth more than 168 million CNY (25.7 million USD).
Actress Li Xiaolu sold goods worth 35 million CNY (5.3 million USD) in one stream
The second most common application for short videos. Unlike Douyin, Kuaishou's audience is mainly made up of residents of smaller cities, the so-called Tier 3-4, and even rural areas. Kuaishou is considered a true window to China, which allows seeing how an ordinary Chinese lives. There are also popular streams where you can insert links to your product in Taobao.
A streaming service integrated into the Taobao marketplace. Users can make purchases immediately while watching the stream. There are different categories such as food, travel, lifestyle and others. Taobao Live tops the list in terms of market share. In 2020, customers had access to more than 500,000 hours of content daily, and the number of newly registered accounts almost doubled.
Alibaba, which owns Taobao, also announced the support of streams from farmers and sellers from the village of cūnbō (村村).
It is also a video streaming service that was created in 2015. The app is like a mix of Twitch and live.ly, which presents content in various formats from Let's play to videos with the ordinary chatter.
About 25.5 million people use Inke every month. As well as in other more popular applications, Inke has a monetization system where subscribers can send donations to streamers in real time. Previously, such monetization system and Inke algorithms appeared revolutionary, but now the platform lags behind other platforms in terms of innovation and development and is much inferior to Douyin and Taobao Live.
The largest live streaming service for online games. An equivalent of the popular Western platform Twitch. Douyu was launched in 2007 as an AcFun video streaming service. The main feature at that time were user comments, which were displayed as a running line on top of the videos. This is what made watching videos more interactive and allowed the platform to quickly gain popularity. AcFun became the predecessor not only of Douyu, but also of another video hosting Bilibili - the local equivalent of Youtube.
Douyu is the largest service of its kind. In 2019, Douyu was used by 163.6 million people per month. In the same period, Twitch had 140 million monthly users.
Specific features of streaming in China
Diversity of platforms
No country has such number of social networks and video streaming applications as China. Each niche has its own. For example, Douyin is suitable for targeting young people from large cities. Kuaishou - for residents of less developed regions of the country. Douyu is for gamers.
High level of interactivity
Streams in China are always a game. Subscribers can interact with bloggers: send them messages and donations, get answers to their questions. Streamers often use coupons and other monetary incentives to increase engagement. It seems that the future has already arrived, and we are witnessing a completely new quality of interaction in the entertainment industry.
Merger with e-commerce
Streams result in record sales just because of the high engagement. A high level of trust to the blogger, the ability to directly ask questions and communicate, warms up the audience and prepares it for making a purchase. Similarly direct links demonstrated during the streaming push a person to an impulsive purchase. For example, a blogger shows some lipstick. At the same moment, a beautiful bright button pops up on the screen of your smartphone – this is a direct link to the store where this lipstick can be purchased.
Live streaming in China has become not just another way of entertainment, but a unique phenomenon around which a business has emerged. Foreign brands should definitely grab a piece of this pie. In addition to purchasing advertising traffic, searching bloggers for collaboration and launching live streams for successful promotion among local consumers.