The answer may surprise you….
As most people are likely aware by now, live stream commerce is experiencing massive adoption in Asia, with China leading the way on usage, sales, and innovation. Entire studios and celebrities are being born out of this new style of live video shopping.
Businesses and brands are finding really creative ways to utilize this new medium. Not surprisingly, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies lead the way, with makeup and fashion brands being early innovators.
Major cosmetic brands like Maybelline and L’Oreal were one of the first, using online influencers and real-life celebrities to market products during live streams.
Make -up & fashion experiences
In 2016, Maybelline hosted a stream on its social media channels and had several influencers participate in a lipstick promotion which resulted in 5M viewers, 10,000+ units sold, and $210,000 (USD) in sales in just a 2-hour broadcast!
Similarly, L’Oreal had used influencers to host live streams for events like the Cannes Film Festival. The hosts offered viewers a chance to get a glimpse of the festival lifestyle, while also including product placements throughout the stream, resulting in their online stores selling out of the featured products. Fashion brands like Tommy Hilfiger and others, are offering fashionistas the opportunity to purchase the latest runway styles in real-time while the shows are ongoing and streaming live to home audiences.
Baby formula sells out
It’s all about trust — live video commerce creates an environment of shared experience between the celebrity host and the viewers, allowing the host to suggest products in a 1 to 1, parent-to-parent approach. One recent example of this is the baby formula brand Illume. They used an actress to inform viewers about their product and saw $176,000 (USD) in sales in a 1-hour live stream. More importantly, they experienced a 36% sales conversion rate, which was 7X higher than their historical e-commerce conversion rate.
Nature shows are a hit
Gardening centers are providing real-time advice channels to DIY’ers working on their gardens. The near real-time, two-directional “nature” of live streaming “conversational commerce”, allows gardeners to take advice from experts, and provides them with the ability to directly ask them questions about a variety of individual gardening challenges. Who doesn’t need gardening advice? The host has the ability to help in real-time, respond and recommend products (which are of course available for immediate purchase and shipping), all while boosting the customers' confidence as they decide which particular products to purchase for their gardening needs.
Chinese farmers are winning big
We’re seeing live stream shopping taking root in rural communities, helping Chinese farmers reach wider audiences that they otherwise would never reach. In 2019 alone, TaoBao Live hosted more than 150,000 agricultural live streams, and there is an initiative to further increase this number substantially. They’re looking to develop and invest in 1,000 new hosts for farming product live streams and aiming to create 100+ online sales campaigns over the next year. Farmers are winning BIG. In one case, farmers in one area of China sold over 2M kilograms of oranges over a 13-day period, in part due to enlisting a local influencer to assist them with their broadcast.
The wildest example, and in thinking completely outside the box, we’ve seen a pearl farmer monetize by having an audience member sponsor each mussel that they open up. Any pearls that are found in that particular mussel are packaged and sent to the viewer — Genius!
There may be a misconception that success in live stream selling is limited to lower-cost items. However, we can point to some recent success in selling higher-end, luxury goods. There was a recent promotion conducted by an online retailer of vehicles, “The Meow Car”. 350,000 viewers scooped up 1,400 Shanghai-Volkswagen vehicles, worth more than $14M (USD), in a 90-minute live stream. In the 24-hour window following the broadcast, sales were almost double that amount. The retailer successfully demonstrated the power of live stream selling, proving that companies can sell high-value items with innovative approaches such as,s providing discounts, in-stream giveaways, and offering a flexible payment structure to live stream viewers.
So what’s the secret?
The success of live stream shopping in China can be attributed to a few factors. Of course, there is the straight numbers game, with some 500M people tuning in to watch live streams focussed on sales in 2018 alone.
Internet Speed and Low-Latency is Key
Improving internet connection speeds is definitely a factor, allowing viewers to consume streaming content without constant buffering and dropped frames making for a poor experience. This should only improve with 5G networks rolling out in the coming years.
Make it Easy
Brands and technology providers have helped by providing a better-integrated experience directly in the live stream. Without needing to leave the broadcast and navigate a complex buying flow, viewers are more compelled to impulse buy.
Make it INTERESTING
Most importantly, we think the largest factor fueling the growth of live stream shopping is the content. Brands and retailers are creating compelling experiences (we’re talking game shows, live singing, stream-a-thons, etc), and are using influencers and hosts to build an intimate buying experience by answering questions and addressing customer concerns in real-time. The success can be recognized by the sheer breadth of products offered for sale via the live stream channel.
Live stream selling offers a new and unique method for brands and retailers to make connections with viewers, and turn them into customers. The opportunities for this kind of technology are endless.
Here at Stage TEN, we want to help creators monetize their live content, turning transactions into interactions. Learn more on our here.
The West will soon experience something similar to China, as more and more marketing dollars are allocated to creating new live streaming opportunities for any device.