Not long since his on-air meltdown, top livestreamer Li Jiaqi came under fire again during this Double 11 season for alleged unfair agreements and monopoly. It started on October 24th, when kitchen appliances brand Huaswirt accused JD.com of deliberately lowering the price of its products, causing it to violate a lowest-price agreement with Li Jiaqi’s Tmall livestream channel.
JD.com in turn alleges Li’s agency forces brands to make ‘either-or’ choices between platforms and to commit to the lowest price on Li’s channel. Livestreamer Crazy Little Brother Yang, from competitor platform Douyin, also accused Li of “holding brands hostage” with his large sales number and causing brands to drop out of other channels.
A purported leaked agreement from MeiOne also confirmed that brands need to refund 5 times the price to consumers if the price on another platform is lower than on Li’s channel, as well as paying 2 million RMB (273,340 USD) to MeiOne in compensation.
Li’s agency MeiOne denied all allegations and Hauswirt corroborated its denial that there was no lowest-price agreement. However, the attacks from netizens and competitors did not stop and Li landed on Weibo’s Hot Topic list 10 times in 24 hours. The topics “Li Jiaqi’s agency agreement details leaked” and “Shower gel from Li Jiaqi livestream 30RMB more expensive than on other platforms” both ranked number 1 on the Hot Search list with 680 million and 210 million views respectively. The Anti-Monopoly Office from Shanghai Municipal Administration for Market Regulation has announced that it is investigating allegations that Li Jiaqi manipulates prices.
However, as Jiemian reports, low-price agreements are common in livestream shopping. It is actually Li’s ability to drive sales that attracted exclusive deals and prices from brands to his channel. With the lowest price guaranteed by brands, Li’s channel in turn drive sales further, creating a positive feedback loop. But with accusations of his large cut of the brand’s profit, as well as the recent meltdown controversy, Li has become an easy target for both competitors and consumers.
At the same time, Florasis, the brand Li was promoting when he had the outburst, has not appeared in any sales rankings during the pre-sale of this year’s Double 11 sales event. Florasis used to be a staple on top 5 lists among all beauty brands during sales events, dropping out of top 10 for the first time in 4 years during ‘618’ this year. Keeping a low profile, the brand appeared on Li’s channel without Li broadcasting, and the eyebrow pencil that caused the controversy was not featured in the sale.