Can China’s private education giant take on former “Lipstick King” Li Jiaqi?

After scoring a successful transition into e-commerce with its initiative of bilingual live streaming earlier in June, New Oriental, the Chinese private tutoring service provider is speeding up the expedition into new territories by eyeing up the beauty sector. A sub-account under its current agriculture-focused channel Dongfang Zhenxuan (or Oriental Select) was seen to have emerged on the Chinese TikTok Douyin, with the account name indicating its focus on personal beauty care.

Although there hasn’t been any published content under the new channel, nor has the account been granted an institution badge (a blue tick next to the account name suggesting a verified business account), speculation on New Oriental’s intention to march into cosmetics has arisen amid the continued phenomenon seen by the market disrupter. 

After six months of sluggish growth since its launch last December, Dongfang Zhenxuan, a product born as a result of the crackdown on the private education sector under China’s “Double Reduction” policies, has finally seized momentum following a live streaming session where the broadcaster, also a former English teacher at New Oriental blended the online promotion of steak with his English teaching, which helped the channel to amass over 14 million followers within a week and claim the top spot in sales on Douyin during the recent “618” shopping event with GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) surpassing 340 million RMB ($50.78 million).

As the bilingual live streaming takes the digital space by storm, the teacher-turned-live streamer team soon applied this model to its online promotions for other products, including books, snacks, and school supplies.

On the other hand, the absence of Li Jiaqi, China’s dubbed “Lipstick King” and undoubtedly the best salesman for beauty products has also provided an opportunity for the newcomer to challenge the lucrative market. Li, the once top live streamer, has been out of public sight for more than 20 days since the live stream incident during the Dragon Boat Festival on 3 June.

Whether the emerging viral live streaming team can pull off sales of cosmetic products remains to be seen, the concept of combining educational content with entertaining online sales has not only helped the organisation find a new lease of life to thrive but also brought about innovation in China’s live streaming.


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