While livestreaming platforms in Western countries are mostly focused on gaming and entertainment, in China livestreaming is also gaining popularity as a way of buying and selling products, fuelling the Chinese E-commerce market. According to a Chinese financial services firm Everbright Securities, the local livestreaming e-commerce market was worth around $63 billion in 2019, which equates to almost 9% of the total e-commerce sales in China the same year ($723 billion) or roughly 1% of total consumer good retail sales. In this article, we’ll give a brief introduction of China’s top 3 E-commerce livestreaming platforms: Alibaba’s Taobao Live, Kuaishou (Kwai) and ByteDance’s Douyin (TikTok).
Taobao Live, the dedicated livestreaming channel launched by E-commerce giant Alibaba in 2016, generated amazing sales of 20 billion yuan ($2.85 billion) during Alibaba’s Singles’ Day 2019 shopping holiday on November 11, that accounted for around 7.5% of the company’s total sales roughly equaling 268.4 billion yuan($38.4 billion).
In line with its “See Now, Buy Now” slogan, Taobao Live allows users to watch live streams and shop at the same time. Broadcasters will work with a variety of brands to give their users coupons or discounts directly (somewhat similar to televised shopping channels like QVC), and encourage consumers to shop. Some famous livestreamers or KOLs, can sell millions of goods overnight. Viya, Taobao’s hottest broadcaster, sold over $45 millions worth of goods on 2019 Single’s Day, most of it in the first two hours of her 15-hour marathon livestream. Even Kim Kardashian once appeared on Viya’s livestream to promote her signature KKW fragrances.
Douyin, China’s counterpart to TikTok, backed by tech giant ByteDance, is currently the hottest short video app in China, with more than 400 million daily active users (DAUs). Despite trailing behind Taobao Live in e-commerce livestreaming, Douyin takes the second place in China with 13% of the market. With its massive users-base, Douyin has potential to become the next big thing in China’s e-commerce.
The COVID-19 epidemic prompted a boomin in Douyin livestreaming. On April 1st, Luo Yonghao, founder of Smartisan, and one of“China’s first-generation internet celebrities”, went live on Douyin. During his 3-hour livestream, he gathered 48 million viewers and generated over 110 million yuan (about $15.5 million) in revenue.
China’s second hottest short video app Kuaishou has more than 200 million daily active users (DAUs) and holds an 8% share of the e-commerce livestreaming market in China following Alibaba’s Taobao Live with 79% and Douyin with 13%. Kuaishou’s revenue from livestreaming reached 30 billion yuan in 2019 and its earnings from gaming and e-commerce totalled several billions of yuan, Jiemian reported on Monday.
Users on Kwai are mostly from lower-tier cities and towns. The app has a very special “老铁经济” or “homie economy”. Livestreamers on Kuaishou refer to their audience as “老铁,” or “homies” in English, to create a sense of familiarity with their buyers. Sellers on Kuaishou are focused on down-to-earth content and simple goods. If you want to know more about Kuaishou’s livestreaming and e-commerce business, read: How Chinese Farmers Hopped Onto Kuaishou’s Bandwagon and Mined Gold.