Living up to the Hype: Livestreaming 2021

Living up to the Hype: Livestreaming 2021

Livestreaming is the buzz-iest trend to emerge from China’s e-commerce economy in the past year. 

As retailers around the world seek lessons from China’s success in livestreaming, we examine what Chinese consumers want in their ‘streams, who they trust and what makes them buy. 

In March 2021, C2 Global surveyed 1,102 Chinese consumers who have engaged in livestream-driven commerce to study how the platforms and content have transformed the shopping experience in China. 

Key Takeaways Included:

  • Livestreaming is largely a mobile activity: More than 90% of respondents use mobile to access livestreams.
  • People are engaged for long periods of time: more than 60% of respondents are averaging between 30 minutes and two hours on a given livestream, and half of respondents watch between 2 to 5 livestreams in a typical session.
  • Consumers turn to livestreams to better understand products and answer questions they may have in general, such as skincare advice, types of materials, natural ingredients.
  • Most respondents trust products more after watching a livestream, particularly when the host is either a third party authority such as a doctor or chef, or they are a KOC (“Key Opinion Consumer”), who is perceived not to be sponsored by the brand. Examples of these experts include dermatologists for skin care, luxury “connoisseurs” for how to determine authenticity of luxury handbags and vintage shoprunners to tell if a sneaker is real. Despite the popularity of celebrity livestreamers like Austin Li, 34% of respondents said they are more likely to trust a KOC than a ‘famous’ host.

  • Taobao live and Douyin are the most popular platforms, but other platforms are quickly integrating into their user experience.
  • Top categories purchased through livestreams were snacks, apparel and beauty. 
    • Snacks and food are mostly fun and engaging content such as eating competitions, taste tests and groups of people eating together. 
    • Apparel livestreams consist mostly of mix and match and creating outfits and looks – the most credible livestreams tend to be the ones that put a whole look together with multiple brands, rather than one brand only. 
    • Beauty livestreams are primarily how-tos and before and after. Many hosts share their own skin reactions and what worked and what didn’t work for them.
  • The most popular formats were product or sales demonstrations, personal stories (farmers, factories) and entertainment. 
    • Artisans and factories are taking consumers behind the scenes to showcase their craftsmanship.
    • Local farmers walk through their fields to show where their food is grown and create trust and transparency in the process.

CLA recommends that brands incorporate the following considerations into their livestreaming strategy in China: 

  • Plan early for key holidays in China, including 11/11, 6/18 and other e-commerce holidays such as Women’s Day, Qixi and 12/12. Competition is high during these times, so livestreams and engagements need to be able to stand out from the crowd to gain attention. 
  • Search wide and deep for livestream talent and unique formats – the widespread adoption of livestreaming and the length of livestreams creates the need for new types of entertainment and formats. Brands should seek to be creative and innovative to bring their brand to life and connect with consumers in authentic and engaging ways. 
  • Consider KOCs and non celebrity hosts for your livestreams. Consumers are seeking authenticity and knowledge sharing, and brands that can provide this will win their trust and attention. 


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