Commercial livestreaming is becoming increasingly popular in China, with online platforms attracting hordes of mostly-female viewers who crave to be immersed into the shopping experience. In 2019, the livestreaming e-commerce market was valued at an estimated 440 billion yuan ($63 billion), according to Everbright’s report.
Since China’s largest e-commerce player Alibaba’s Taobao pioneered livestreaming e-commerce in 2014, online marketplaces have mainly been using it to entertain and attract young female customers. While Taobao Live dominates the market with 800 million monthly active users, short video apps such as Douyin and Kuaishou, and game livestreaming platforms including Douyu and Huya are all jumping on the bandwagon. However, some of them are looking to appeal to a different demographic.
Last Friday marked the one-month anniversary of the internet celebrity and businessman Luo Yonghao’s livestreaming debut on TikTok’s Chinese version Douyin. On his first-ever livestreaming show on April 1, the debt-ridden entrepreneur worked hard to climb out from a mountain of debt, selling more than 110 million yuan ($15 million) of products with a total of 48 million users tuning in.
As a tech entrepreneur with a flamboyant personality, Luo is starting to attract more male viewers to e-commerce livestreaming. The list of goods he sold ranged from AI recorders to the latest smartphone from his former competitor Xiaomi, as well as gift cards for Chinese tea maker Nayuki, men’s skincare sets and hotpot seasoning. Female viewers of his live broadcast only accounted for 6% at his debut, later increasing to 25% on his fourth session on April 25.
While Douyin turns all of its livestreaming spotlight on Luo Yonghao, Douyu and Huya, two largest game livestreaming platforms, are stepping in the game and eyeing the same audience. The two Chinese Twitch-like livestreaming platforms have launched e-commerce functions in December 2019, but haven’t partnered their livestreamers with brands since the end of March.
On March 28, two of Douyu’s best-known livestreamers — outdoor activities host “Zhengzhibo” and gaming commentator “Dandan” — collaborated to sell 33 products including sneakers, menswear, home projectors, snacks and home supplies, generating a grand total of 4.87 million yuan.
“Given that our main audience is gamers aged 18 to 35, we’d like to choose products such as sportswear, street wear, and latest gadgets,” Li Kun, the head of Douyu’s commercial livestreaming initiative said in an interview with SixthTone. “Compared with other commercial livestreaming platforms that focus on lipstick and cosmetics for female consumers, we will make full use of our advantage.”
According to the “2019 Live + X Insight Report” released by data intelligence services provider QuestMobile, the game livestreaming industry has a higher percentage of male users than females with a roughly 9:1 gender ratio. Male users accounted for 89.8% while female users for only 10.2%.
As livestreaming platforms are switching their demographic target to male viewers and designing marketing strategies for men, the question arises as to whether there is any difference between shopping behaviors of the two genders when watching e-commerce live broadcasts and placing orders.
The reasons for watching livestreams may be different between the viewers, but what triggers their buying decisions is always the same. Males are interested in livestreamed gaming, whereas female consumers are attracted by the immersive experience with social interactions. Nevertheless, what makes them place orders is their support to the livestreamers and the exclusive deals which stimulate their buying.
“I never watched commercial livestreaming except Luo Yonghao’s debut session on Douyin,” said Deng Zhiyang to Pandaily, who identified himself as an avid observer of Luo since the entrepreneur’s time at Smartisan in 2014. “However, I only bought the gift card for Nayuki Tea from his livestream session because I do drink it a lot.”
“If I want to buy something, I buy them directly from the e-commerce websites or from the stores instead of watching people advertise and promote them online.” Deng added. “However, if Luo is promoting something I really need with a decent price, why not buy it?”
Girls are the same. No matter if it’s Li Jiaqi, the “King of Lipstick” who won the hearts of Chinese young ladies with a boy-next-door appearance and catchphrases pronounced in a high-pitched voice, or Viya, the top-ranked livestreamer on Taobao Live who is famous for her product filtering process to increase trust and careful wording used when selling products, female viewers are not only attracted by their personalities or sales skills, but by the “Exclusive Platform Deal” they promise to the viewers. Same thing happens when they are turning to gaming livestreaming.
“Gaming livestreaming is not exclusive to men, same as sportswear and tech products. I would buy the products which the livestreamer I like promotes to show my support and loyalty,” 23-year-old Jennie Shi, a fan of esports commentator “Dandan” on Douyu told Pandaily. “There are discounts on sportswear and gadgets, so I am willing to buy them at lower prices.”
As e-commerce and livestreaming platforms are targeting different audiences, they are starting to learn that there’s no gender difference in online purchasing decision-making. Interests in e-commerce or gaming drive people to join different live broadcasts, but the reasons for them to stay and buy are generally the same.