A livestreaming host promotes sales of products with local characteristics during an expo in Fuyang, Anhui province. (Photo: WANG BIAO/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Short-video platform Douyin and e-commerce giant Alibaba Group's online marketplace Taobao have invested significantly to attract top-notch livestreaming hosts as part of a broader push to gain a new group of users and bolster sales of products online, industry experts said, amid intensifying competition in China's burgeoning e-commerce livestreaming segment.
Oriental Selection, the livestreaming arm of Chinese education company New Oriental Education &Technology Group, kicked off a livestreaming session on Alibaba's livestreaming platform Taobao Live, at 8 am on Tuesday, attracting more than 2.1 million viewers and surpassing 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) in sales within the first hour.
A number of goods including agricultural products, daily necessities, beauty and skin care items, home appliances and consumer electronics, were peddled during the livestreaming session. Oriental Selection used to sell products via Douyin.
Taobao has stepped up efforts to net online celebrities to promote sales and entice a more diversified customer base via livestreaming.
Luo Yonghao, founder of smartphone maker Smartisan Technology and a key online opinion leader on Douyin, started a livestreaming session on Taobao last October.
Luo peddled household appliances, mobile phones, computers, food and beverages, wine and healthcare products, attracting 5.5 million viewers in just an hour.
Be Friends Holding Ltd, the e-commerce livestreaming agency behind internet celebrity Luo, has opened livestreaming rooms on three platforms — Douyin, Taobao and JD. Hangzhou-based livestreaming e-commerce enterprise Qianxun Group has also opted for multiple channels such as Taobao and Douyin to drum up sales.
"Livestreaming has become a key method widely adopted by consumer brands to retain existing users, attract new ones and boost sales revenue," said Cui Lili, director of the Institute of E-commerce at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.
Cui said there is an interdependent relationship between top livestreaming influencers and platforms, and that livestreaming hosts or internet celebrities should disseminate high-quality content, not just sell products, to attract more user traffic.
According to market consultancy iiMedia research, the revenue of China's e-commerce livestreaming sector touched 1.4 trillion yuan in 2022, up 19.5 percent year-on-year. This is projected to reach 2.1 trillion yuan in 2025.
Douyin is banking on the fast-developing cross-border e-commerce sector, and has rolled out a store focused on imported goods on its platform, with categories ranging from snacks, makeup and skin care products, and maternal and infant goods.
It has also launched an official livestreaming room for imported goods, with followers surpassing 670,000.
Short-video apps are doubling down on efforts to expand their presence in livestreamed shopping, and the online traffic is shifting from traditional e-commerce platforms to apps such as Douyin and Kuaishou, said Mo Daiqing, a senior analyst at the Internet Economy Institute, a domestic consultancy.
Online retailers should make strategic adjustments to reduce their overdependence on top livestreaming anchors and nurture new ones, she said. More brands are aggressively moving toward their own livestreaming activities, Mo added.
Livestreaming with virtual hosts has also emerged as a new trend.
Global consultancy Forrester said more business-to-consumer, or B2C, brands are using virtual hosts to attract digital-savvy and novelty-seeking young consumers, as they cost less than human talent and reduce risks such as celebrity scandals.