As brands increasingly look to China for new opportunities to grow their businesses, live streaming provides a unique way to connect with Chinese customers in a very personal and engaging way.
There’s no doubt that the live-streaming industry is on the rise. And businesses of all sizes are starting to take advantage of this powerful communication tool. But what, exactly, is a live stream? And how can your business use live streams to its advantage? Is it already a part of Chinese internet culture?
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In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of the live-streaming industry in China and offer some tips on how brands can use this powerful marketing tool to reach Chinese consumers.
Commerce Live Streaming Industry in China – What Does It Look Like with Numbers
In recent China, commerce live streaming media are gaining great popularity among both the youth and the aged. As of 2023, the population of live streaming services has exceeded 660 million, which makes up almost 50% of Chinese netizens.
Live-streaming market in China generated 4.9 trillion yuan ($72 billion) this year, which is a great increase from only 0.12 trillion in 2018. The industry recorded a 53% year-on-year growth.
Live streaming content types that work on Chinese social media platforms
Even though the platforms and content details are different, live streams in China can be classified into the following main types:
- E-commerce live streams;
- Video game live streams;
- Reality live streams;
- Sports live streams;
- Live concert live streams
From the perspective of content categories, Chinese e-commerce live streaming is booming. Although the user scale of traditional live streams such as reality show live streams and game live streams has slowed down.
The rise of Chinese e-commerce live-streaming platforms has injected new vitality into the overall growth of the market in China, enriching the content and monetization methods of the live-streaming industry.
The most popular content categories on all the platforms are:
- foreign products
- beauty products
- daily necessities and so on.
Some live stream media channels are slickly produced, surrounded by products and brands, guests, frenetic bells, whistles, and countdowns creating a sense of urgency among viewers to splash the cash. The most successful hosts have tens of millions of loyal viewers watching their streams and boosting brand sales.
When customers click the link on the product website or on the platforms, they can browse pictures, watch brand try-on videos, or catch fashion live streams, so they now have more ways to interact with brands and are engaged for longer periods of time.
Chinese tech giants put the finger on the live-streaming hosts’ shares
Since live streaming e-commerce has brought great fortune, China’s giant e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba, JD.com, and Pinduoduo have stepped into this field one after another, integrating physical commodity transactions with interactive live streams, enhancing viewers’ consumption experience and entertainment.
In addition, e-commerce live-streaming hosts play an important role in stimulating the demand and sales of agricultural products and providing strong support for poverty-stricken areas to get rid of poverty.
In July 2019, Zhejiang Province and Alibaba Group organized the “E-commerce Poverty Alleviation” activity. 12 cadres along with KOLs jointly promoted the hometown’s agricultural specialties. The total sales of this campaign have exceeded 10 million yuan in only three hours.
Top 7 live-streaming platforms in China
There are many different live stream contents, but the differences between certain commerce live streaming platforms are getting smaller and smaller. Here is a list of the top 7 commerce live streaming platforms in China, that gather hundreds of millions of viewers every day.
1. Douyu.com, Tencent live-streaming Champion?
DouYu, literally translated into “Fighting Fish”, is a live-stream site centered around video gaming developed by DouYu TV and launched in 2014. DouYu, is the largest game-streaming platform in China, with 61.9 million monthly active users in 2021. Douyu generates a huge amount of live streaming sessions among young people every day.
In 2018 the advertisement on Douyu generated $73 million in revenue. The Chinese tech giant Tencent owns about 37% of the shares. In March 2019, Panda TV, which was once a big rival for Douyu, announced bankruptcy and liquidation. The Chinese live stream market began to form an era dominated by well-known platforms like Douyu and Huya.
For a long time, the two major live-streaming platforms – Douyu and Huya have been constantly competing for the position of the “first game live-streaming platform”. However, even though Huya Live was the first to go public, its development speed is not as fast as Douyu and now Douyu has surpassed Huya, occupying third place.
According to research, Douyu is significantly better than other platforms in terms of active users and live streamers, and it also has numerous loyal fans that other platforms do not have.
2. Huya Live Stream
Huya is a Chinese live-streaming platform that was founded in 2014. The platform allows users to watch and stream live gaming content, similar to what we now have on Youtube. Huya has seen explosive growth in recent years and now has over 300 million monthly active users. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2018 and is now valued at over $20 billion.
Apart from live streaming services, Huya also offers a range of other gaming-related services, including e-sports tournaments where you can watch the most popular live streamers play games. The company is headquartered in Shanghai and has offices in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou.
3. Kuaishou Video (The dark horse live streamers)
Kuaishou Video, literally “quick hand” in English, is a Chinese video-sharing mobile app, first launched in 2011 and developed by Beijing Kuaishou Technology Co., Ltd. Kuaishou has a strong user base among users outside of China’s Tier 1 cities. Kuaishou emerged as a direct competitor for Douyin, which targets people outside of Tier 1 cities. They promote all the main topics that young people are interested in, like fashion, leisure time, shopping, food, apps, education, foreign brands, and so on.
In December 2021, KuaiShou reported 578 million monthly active users and had more than 1.5 billion pieces of original content on the platform.
It is an app not only popular in Mainland China, but it has also gained considerable popularity in overseas markets, topping the Google Play and Apple App Store’s “Most Downloaded” apps lists in eight countries.
The main competitor of Kuaishou is Douyin, which is known as TikTok outside of China. Kuaishou has a high consumer retention rate and Kuaishou’s e-commerce marketing is of great value and has been recognized by various industries in 2019.
4. Inke Live Streamers Platform
Inke is the world’s leading live-streaming site for artists and creators. With Inke, you can easily create and live stream your artwork to a global audience and talk with fans in real time. Inke also offers a variety of features to help you showcase your work, including HD-quality streaming, high-definition image capture, and social media integration.
What makes the Inke brand stand out is its ‘battle mode,’ where users will agree on a predefined challenge, for example holding up one pen between your teeth or balancing an entire spoon on top of your nose. They also live stream these battles within certain time limits and viewers can send cash payments for gifts so that it’s easier than ever before to determine who wins! And receiving virtual gifts seems like fun, isn’t it?
5. Douyin (TikTok) the China king of live-streaming?
Douyin (TikTok, as it is known in other countries) is in essence a short video-sharing social media platform. It is owned by ByteDance, one of the Chinese leading tech giants.
Douyin is a clear leader in the commerce live streaming app market, with advanced live stream functions and algorithms to cater precisely to the different interests of users, that can just focus on watching their favorite live streaming host or brand or shop for daily necessities, boosting platforms’ overall sales.
6. Xiaohongshu / Little Red Book – shop with celebrities!
Xiaohongshu began testing the live streaming e-commerce service in 2019. In a series of live streams since it was introduced, several successful results have emerged: they offer a high conversion rate and high expenditure for customers even at relatively low sales volumes.
Popular live-streamers are backed by professional marketing teams and can earn tens of thousands of dollars each day in direct donations from fans. The most sought-after live-streaming hosts (for example well-known celebrities) can earn a lot of money in brand endorsements and sponsorships.
Livestreaming on Xiaohongshu social media platform allows users to interact with their followers in real-time, and many live streamers use the platform to sell products or send virtual gifts, for example during luxury fashion livestreaming.
For example, live streaming hosts might show off a new dress and then provide a link to a shop where their followers can buy it. In addition to selling products, Xiaohongshu live streamers also offer advice and tips on beauty and fashion. As a result, this e-commerce platform has become an important destination for Chinese women who are looking for information on fashion trends and products before shopping.
Currently, a live streaming channel, KOL (Key Opinion Leaders), has around 7500 followers spending money and generating about RMB 10,000 in sales. Xiaohongshu is a more robust social media platform than other Chinese live-streamer e-commerce platforms such as Taobao. The live streaming service by Xiaohongshu is no longer just an internet-based e-commerce shopping service like Taobao.
7. Taobao Live
Taobao Live is a live streaming service owned by Alibaba Group. It was launched in 2016. The platform lets live stream videos of themselves to an audience, who can buy products that are on stream in real-time. According to Alibaba, Taobao Live accumulated more than 50 billion viewers.
The service is popular in China, where it is used by celebrities, influencers, and brands to sell products directly to fans and consumers. In 2022, the average viewing time of Taobao live broadcasts increased by 25.8%. The top 10% of broadcasters generated 90% of the total sales on the platform.
Taobao Live has also been expanding outside of China. In 2019, it launched in Indonesia and Malaysia. The company plans to broadcast to other countries in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Maybe later on they will access the Western audience as well.
Partner With Us for The Best Live-Streaming Results!
As the digital landscape in China continues to evolve, live-streaming platforms have emerged as a powerhouse in the realm of online engagement and marketing. Recognizing this trend, Gentlemen Marketing Agency offers specialized services to help your brand navigate and capitalize on China’s dynamic live-streaming ecosystem. Our comprehensive approach positions your brand at the forefront of this digital revolution.
At Gentlemen Marketing Agency, we specialize in:
- Platform Selection and Strategy: We guide you in choosing the most suitable live streaming platforms from China’s diverse range, such as Douyin, Kuaishou, and YY, aligning with your brand’s target audience and objectives.
- Content Creation and Live Stream Management: Our team assists in creating engaging and culturally relevant content tailored for Chinese audiences. We manage the end-to-end process of live streaming sessions, ensuring smooth and effective execution.
- Influencer Collaborations and KOL Engagement: Leverage our extensive network of influencers and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) across various platforms to enhance your brand’s reach and credibility during live streams.
- Interactive Campaigns and Audience Engagement: We design interactive campaigns that encourage viewer participation and engagement, turning viewers into active participants and potential customers.
- E-commerce Integration: For brands looking to boost sales, we seamlessly integrate e-commerce capabilities into your live streaming strategy, enabling real-time purchases and maximizing the commercial potential of your sessions.
- Performance Analytics and Optimization: Utilizing advanced analytics, we track the performance of your live streaming campaigns, providing insights for continuous improvement and greater ROI.
By partnering with Gentlemen Marketing Agency, you can unlock the full potential of live-streaming platforms in China, enhancing brand visibility, engagement, and sales. Let’s propel your brand into the spotlight of China’s live-streaming world. Contact us today!