Want to get kickstart sales with the Chinese consumer? Try Live-Streaming.

Written by Leigh-Anne Russell, Creative Services Manager @ The Silk Initiative

Live-streaming exploded in China in the past three years like a fragment bomb, splintering into random cul-de-sacs. Then came 2016, when a government crackdown led a host of media outlets to predict the downfall of the category, valued at RMB 30 billion yuan that year.

live-streaming china

[ABOVE: Weibo’s Yizhibo live streaming service.]

But there is one problem. Live-streaming is not dead. It’s evolving. And in that evolution is a major opportunity for brands penetrating the Chinese market.

Taobao, for example, launched its own live-stream last year, and according to their own statistics, they are seeing a 20% conversion rate on the featured products.

This is not an industry in its death throes. It’s a shift in marketing, from using live-streaming as just general brand awareness, to using it to drive sales, according to Elijah Whaley, CMO of KOL platform ParkLu.

Whaley says shows are where the format is headed. Where before, live-streaming might have focused on individuals competing for small tips, we are now starting to see brands like Maybelline do a regular show with a standardised format that draws 3 million viewers.

live-streaming china

[ABOVE: Girls attend makeup training session at live-streaming talent agency, Three Minute TV, in Beijing (Image credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter)]

In Melbourne last week for the Alibaba E-Commerce Expo: Merchant Conference, The Silk Initiative CEO Andrew Kuiler saw the Taobao experience up close and personal, as KOLs did 30 or 60 second live-streams for products. “In two days, exhibitors at the Alibaba event achieved millions of dollars in sales, not just because of the live-streaming, but that certainly added to creating some very fast hype on those days.”

Eight Taobao merchandisers engaged in live-streaming events throughout the day to help launch 12 brands into the Chinese market for the first time. These brands reached an audience of more than 200,000 consumers.

Kuiler continues, “The live-stream is authentic in consumers’ minds as it can’t be faked. The real-time nature helps provide confidence to the consumer they are seeing and hearing the real deal.”

[ABOVE: Shiniligongziah displaying his cooking skills in a live video stream on Yizhibo, where 30,000 viewers were watching in real time.]

The question is, if your brand is live-streaming without a plan, or not live-streaming at all, why?

The category is moving so fast, but China’s 1.13 billion smartphone users are just as nimble, and as they move from passive viewers to potential customers, live-streaming is only going to be more important to brands in China.


The Silk Initiative can help you optimise this and other components of your marketing mix with its Marketing Mix Tune-Up and get you closer to converting that marketing into sales with our Launch Pad product. We know how to do this. Let us help.