Chinese Consumers Lose Interest in Livestream Shopping

By: James Flippin · November 11, 2022 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

What is Livestream Shopping?

Livestream shopping is a digital event in which social media influencers stream themselves showcasing various products and make recommendations to consumers in real time. You may be wondering how many people would actually buy a product solely based on an internet celebrity’s recommendation. The answer is: a lot.

Last year, one of China’s biggest online stars singlehandedly drove $1 billion in product sales during a 14-hour livestream. It was conducted as part of Singles’ Day, a Chinese holiday celebrating single people and encouraging them to shop (similar to Cyber Monday). The two weeks leading up to November 11 include deals and discounts in this vein.

Losing Steam

After a banner year in 2021, livestream shopping this year, on a whole, appears to be losing some steam. Factors contributing to this shift include heightened regulations by the Chinese government and a recent crackdown on celebrity influencers, some of whom have been evicted of tax evasion.

Notably, Alibaba (BABA), China’s largest ecommerce company, is expected to post flat growth in sales from last year’s Singles’ Day. Additionally, only 75% of consumers said they would watch a livestream shopping event this year, down from 97% last year.

What About the US?

While Singles’ Day isn’t formally celebrated in the US, some American companies have explored the use of livestream shopping, perhaps inspired by the past success of Singles’ Day.

For reference, the two-week Singles’ Day shopping spree, known as the world’s biggest shopping event, generated about $131 billion in sales for companies in 2021. By comparison, US shoppers spent about $30-40 billion during last year’s Black Friday.

Despite the crackdown on celebrity livestream shopping from Chinese authorities, US consumers can still expect this trend to carry over into Western culture. In fact, the next time you tune into your favorite YouTube (GOOGL) or TikTok star, pay extra close attention to the products those influencers might be hawking.

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