China’s CEOs are making millions by selling their products on livestreams

China’s CEOs are making millions by selling their products on livestreams


China’s CEOs are making millions by selling their products on livestreams

Credit:
Taobao & Kuaishou

In the past few years, retail-streaming has become a rapidly growing ecommerce channel in China, with all manners of salespeople directly selling goods to consumers on an ecommerce livestream. While influencers and celebrities are the most familiar faces seen on retail-streams, recently, executives of major Chinese corporations have also appeared in front of the live camera. 

Some of these efforts yielded lucrative results — Li Jing, president of the home accessories business Mendale Textile, for instance, achieved $3.5 million worth of sales for his company on a four-hour livestream in March. James Liang, the executive chairman & former CEO of the travel services company Trip.com, had also made $8.4 million selling travel packages, with five sessions of hour-long livestreams. And on May 10, the chairwoman of Gree Electric, Dong Mingzhu, sold more than $43.7 million worth of home appliances on a three-hour livestream. 

Retail-streaming is going big

For many sectors in the Chinese market, retail-streaming has become a normalized part of business. The streams take place both on ecommerce platforms like Taobao and JD, as well as on social video platforms like Douyin (TikTok’s Chinese version) and Kuaishou. Vendors from diverse business areas are selling to consumers via live video every day.

In need of lipsticks and beauty products? There’s a stream for that — actually, many. Fruits and vegetables from the countryside? You can buy them from streams starring the farmers themselves. Craving seafood from a specific small fishing town? Seamen streamers got you covered. And if, for some reason, you’re in the market for a commercial rocket, you’re in luck: you can buy one from a Taobao stream for a mere $5.6 million.

According to a report by iiMedia Research, livestreamed ecommerce in China reached an annual $61 billion worth of transactions in 2019.  More recently, due to people being stuck at home during the coronavirus lockdown, the channel received yet another dramatic boost: the same report predicts that retail-streaming will reach a total of $129 billion in transactions in 2020. Figures from earlier this year seem to support this prediction — in February alone, the biggest Chinese retail-streaming platform Taobao had seen a 719% increase in the number of vendors. 

Streaming CEOs

Since the start of this year, both responding to the momentum of growing consumer interest and to boost revenue during the COVID-19 economic slowdown, Chinese CEOs started to participate in retail-streaming to help sell their companies’ products. Among them are Qian Jinbo, the president of the footwear giant Red Dragonfly; Liu Minghui, the CEO & Founder of China Gas; Chen Xiaodong, the CEO of department store chain Intime Retail Group… the list goes on. Some get on the stream as a one-off promotional event, others do so on a regular basis.