Report finds 90% of Chinese consumers watch livestreams

According to a new report released by Beijing Consumers Association on May 31, the use of livestreaming in online shopping is even more dominant in China than marketers might expect.

Of the 4,112 consumers surveyed, 90% said they have browsed and/or purchased goods through watching livestreams. This is an impressively high result given that discussions on Chinese social commerce typically focus on millennials and new social media platforms.

According to the report, livestream consumption spans most product types, with cosmetics and toiletries coming out on top (50.78%), followed closely by food and beverage (40.71%), and then clothing (35.24%), daily household items (25.41%), digital appliances (20.65%) and culture and entertainment (16.25%).

The report’s findings attest to the power of influencers and KOLs, with almost half of the respondents saying “love” or fondness for individual livestreamers was the main motivation for tuning in, underscoring the pivotal role of parasocial relationships in social commerce.

The report also revealed that traditional e-commerce platforms like Taobao and Pinduoduo are the dominant modes of livestream consumption, despite the meteoric rise of short video platforms like Douyin. Whilst this may shift in future, this finding highlights that livestream shopping and social commerce are far from just for young people who grew up using social media. As China enters population aging, it will become imperative for retailers to include middle-aged and elderly consumers in their digital strategies.

The authors of the report advise consumers to carry out background research on livestreamers, concluding that the quality of products, streamers’ advertising, and after-sales service all need to be improved in commercial livestreaming. This aligns with the government’s ongoing efforts to bring online advertising under tighter regulation, most recently by targeting algorithms used to promote products on short video platforms.


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