Uniqlo dives into Douyin livestreams to capture Chinese customers

After facing a slump in retail sales wrought by the aftermath of covid-related shutdowns, Japanese apparel company Uniqlo hopped on Douyin’s livestream bandwagon in hopes to cast a wider net in the Chinese market

Launched on September 6, Uniqlo’s Douyin account runs a series of daily live-streamed shows, which allows users to directly purchase merchandise on the app. In addition, Uniqlo frequently posts short videos promoting its garments and giving styling advice to users. Since the publication of its first short video, Uniqlo’s Douyin account has gained more than 400,000 followers.

According to Zhang Yi, chief executive of research firm iiMedia, “top brands are increasingly putting their weight behind Douyin, [which] poses a challenge for Alibaba as it plans the coming Singles’ Day shopping festival.”

While it may take some time to reach a scale comparable to larger players, Douyin’s e-commerce business is faring well so far. In 2021, Douyin generated $119 billion in product sales from live broadcasts, a 7x increase year-on-year. Meanwhile, the number of users engaging with e-commerce livestreams exceeded 384 million, close to half of the platform’s user base.

At present, China is the second largest market for Uniqlo outside of Japan. In 2020, China accounted for 23.5% of Uniqlo’s global sales, bringing in a revenue of 362.65 billion Japanese yen ($3.51 billion). What’s more, the number of Uniqlo shops in China outnumber those in Japan, with 897 shops and 809 shops respectively.

By joining Douyin’s livestream culture, Uniqlo diversifies sales channels while directly targeting China’s Gen Z market. As Chinese consumers continue to embrace e-commerce, diving into livestreams may prove beneficial for brands seeking to break into the Chinese consumer market.


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