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How live streaming reveals the real China


CONTENT 01:27 What is special about live streaming in China? This is a 60 billion USD market in China, that grew 100% in 2020. Internet influencers in China are called key opinion leaders (KOL) in China. Viya is the queen of KOLs, and can sell any product from any brand when she goes online.


02:04 What is so special about Chinese KOLs? If we take Li Jiaqi en Liziqi as KOL examples, it’s immediately obvious that they do not fit the image of typical Chinese star. They are very authentic, diverse and make their stories very personal and emotionally beautiful.


04:05 What is live streaming in China mostly about? KOLs are more focused on life-style and creation than purely commercial goals. RED was the first lifestyle internet platform that was used by consumers to share authentic stories and experiences. The site added live streaming and e-commerce later.


06:04 Which live streaming platforms does China know? China has more than 20 famous life streaming platforms. The most popular ones are from e-commerce platforms like Alibaba’s Taoabo, JD Live, RED, Meituan and Pinduoduo. Douyin and Kuaishou are very famous. Pretty much any popular internet platform added live streaming functionalities. This is very different from the West, where it is still novel or not available for many platforms as social, commerce and payment are less integrated.


07:58 Do Chinese live streamers have large followings. Top KOLs have typically tens of millions of followers. But more than 85% of the popular live streamers have only thousands of fans, not millions. The difference is that these are fans that almost blindly trust their heroes. They are called Key Opinion Consumer (KOC) and can sell sometimes more than KOLs in one live stream as their fans almost blindly follow their recommendations.


08:56 Do brands work with KOLs or KOCs. Both. But many Chinese brands like KOCs as this is closer to the Chinese culture of personalized communication and interaction between people. Cosmetic brands like Perfect Diary have used KOCs to outcompete top Western brands like L’Oréal or Lancôme. It is a new weapon for Chinese brands in China.


10:42 Do Chinese live streamers do this for the money? Of course, as more than 10 million KOCs are making a living from streaming, but their motive is also purpose driven. They are passionate about certain brands, want to share their stories, love the interactions and want to educate fans and friends if possible. Their fans care ever more about healthy and fun live, but also societal empathy.


13:00 Does live streaming go beyond young netizens who want to become stars? In China, everyone is starting to live stream. Farmers live stream to sell their produce, CEOs life stream to promote their services and cultural engagements, restaurants live stream to promote food, car salesmen sell their cars online by streaming, even real-estate gets sold online. The biggest disruption is that employees are learning to live stream to sell products and services, but also for customer service and customer experience. It’s more about communities and social than about transactions and convenience.


17:19 Is Live streaming trend going to remain? Live streaming has gone beyond a trend in China, and is now an industry with Multi-Channel Network agents selecting KOLs/KOCs a and training them for a year to become a successful live streamer.


19:20 What does Chinese government think of live streaming? Beijing is supportive of live streaming, but they want to regulate the industry to avoid live streaming problems: such as large groups of people that could create chaos, children that are addicted to the new media, code of conduct of live streamers that is sometimes inappropriate, and any form of scams or fake or unhealthy products sold through live stream. China is trying to make the channels and streamers healthy for society. So yes, this about censoring like the internet.


21:46 What are new trends of live streaming? The newest trend is virtual KOL, who sometimes have millions of followers. KOLs are becoming stronger brands, and are competing with famous brands for consumers attention. Most important change is the sensitivity for cultural and societal problems: insensitivity to Chinese culture, Me2 or anti-China views are not tolerated by fans and can hurt a brand or KOL big time.


24:30 What does live streaming reveal about China? It reveals core values of Chinese people which is seldom talked about in the West. Authenticity, trust, cultural sensitivity, caring for people, creativity, power of netizens, entertaining society, trendsetter industry, and seeking more purpose in life.



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