China’s live-streaming boom has driven job seekers to grab their share of the pie, prompting a surge of live-host applications leading up to this year’s Singles’ Day online shopping bonanza.
As the pandemic forced a nation-wide lockdown and the closure of shopping malls, Chinese brands have adopted live streaming as a new major marketing channel to push sales.
E-commerce streamers and retail companies have been gearing up for the world’s largest shopping extravaganza since June, and their efforts paid off – Alibaba said late Wednesday orders on its e-commerce platforms totalled 498.2 billion yuan (US$75 billion), with sales exceeding 372.3 billion yuan (US$56.3 billion) from the first 30 minutes of the event, plus a three-day presale period.
Sales garnered from this year’s extended shopping period topped last year’s, where Alibaba sold 268.4 billion yuan ($40.5 billion) worth of goods during a 24-hour period.
The event’s success can be attributed to lockdown-weary consumers looking for an opportunity to treat themselves, and buying has been made easier with aggressive livestreamers touting products with straightforward price cuts.
In just the first half of this year, more than 10 million e-commerce live-streaming sessions have been hosted by more than 400,000 self-broadcasters, putting 20 million products on virtual shelves, according to a report released by Chinese recruiting app Boss Zhipin on Monday.
With a relatively low barrier to entry, job seekers for e-commerce live-stream hosts is expected to increase by 110.7% over the same period last year, the report added.
However, as the industry nears a saturation point due to increased competition from large numbers of hosts, many who dreamt of striking it rich now find themselves struggling to attract viewers or even earn a decent income.
The income of live-streamers is extremely polarized, according to the report. While top-tier hosts such as Li Jiaqi and Viya could garner more than 200 million yuan (US$30 million) and 30 million yuan (US$4.5 million) in a year respectively, the average streamer makes only 10,636 yuan (US$1,605) each month, according to the report.
Research data shows that 47.6% of live-streamers have less than 10,000 followers, while 9.5% of streamers have more than 100,000 fans. Nearly 90% of virtual footfall is dominated by the likes of Li Jiaqi, otherwise known as “The Lipstick King”, who has 40 million fans on DouYin, China’s version of TikTok.
Live-streaming commerce is the fastest-growing internet application in China this year, with 309 million users in June, accounting for about a third of the country’s 904 million internet users, according to a report released last month by government-affiliated China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA). It’s also projected to be a US$70 billion industry in China by 2021.
The rapid user growth of live-streaming and short video services in the first quarter prompted China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security to recognize e-commerce streamers as an official profession, grouping them under “internet marketing specialists”.