Did you know that there were around 703.4 million people in China who actively live-streamed in 2021? Plus, the live streaming industry in China was worth around 2269.7 billion yuan. That’s around $482.99 AUD – a lot of money.

But today, that number has increased dramatically. So much that experts believe the Chinese live-streaming industry will be worth over 4914.4 billion Chinese yuan – $1045.78 AUD – by 2023!

What’s the cause of such a sharp incline in live streamers and audiences, you ask? Well, the Covid19 pandemic.

Live stream content lifts China out of its slump 

The coronavirus pandemic impacted China terribly, both physically and also commercially. Many China-based companies were unable to trade with their international partners as borders closed down across the world, so they shifted their focus to their domestic customers and markets, hoping to make up for the loss of international business as best as they could.

Live streaming was an incredible help to small companies in China, who wanted to get in touch with their target market. Many businesses took to social media sites like TikToK, Xiaohongshu (LittleRedBook), Douyin and WeChat to engage with their existing customers and their prospective clients.

Take Taihe Music Group, for instance, which wished to release new products during the pandemic. The company recreated a live clubbing experience for customers to partake in – but completely online. Retail giant JD.com even opened up a dedicated live streaming base in the Shaanxi Province, so they could churn out engaging videos for their patrons. In fact, JD also offered the facilities at Shaanxi to other local businesses that wanted to get in the live stream game.

Not just for businesses, but influencers too 

Businesses aside, many Chinese influencers too found live streaming as their favourite mode of engaging their audiences. The legendary influencer Viya, who is believed to have live stream superpowers – also found her audience increasing by the day. In November of 2021, during peak Covid time, Viya sold beauty products worth a whopping 8.5bn yuan ($1809.50 billion AUD) in one evening during the Singles’ Day shopping festival, using just live-streamed content!

For-profit influencers aside, there have been many influencers in China who used social media live streams to earn money for charitable and not-for-profit causes.

Li Jiaqi, also known fondly as “King of Lipstick.” With an audience that is 40 million strong on Douyin, the King used live streaming to sell a staggering 15,000 tubes of lipstick in just 5 minutes! During the start of the pandemic in 2020, he teamed up with ecommerce giant Alibaba on their Taobao Live streaming platform to host a charity auction to raise money for the people of Wuhan.

So, what’s selling on live stream? 

With all this love for live streaming, what exactly are people buying through live stream sales and events? Well, everything from toothpaste to oranges to alcohol was sold on live streams in China during the pandemic.

In particular, live streaming helped thousands of Chinese farmers stave off poverty and starvation by getting them in touch with brands and consumers during the pandemic. 

Take Li Jinxing, a flower seller and farmer living in Yunan province. He was one of the thousands of businesses to be brutally affected by the lockdown and isolation protocols that the Chinese government used to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. The challenges in getting his logistics company to his village amidst the lockdown proved futile, and a large part of Li Jinxing’s crop spoiled and became unsaleable. 

That was when he became aware through a friend of JD.com’s offer to let local sellers use their live streaming station to directly contact their customers. All he had to do was create live-streamed videos showcasing his content on the company’s JD Live video streaming platform and field any questions by customers. If he made a sale, JD would give him their trucks to ship his products – all for a small percentage of the sale. Li Jinxing started his live-streamed content and the rest, as they say, is history.

 Even influencers joined in the mix to help out. Wu Zhifang, who goes by the name Wei Wei – used Alibaba’s Taobao Live streaming platform to showcase small businesses and farm products in Hainan Province to help generate sales for technologically-challenged farmers. She would travel to farms across the province each day to showcase a new seller. All of this work – combined with the efforts of others – resulted in sales worth 60 million yuan ($12.77 AUD) in sales.

Even without JD Live, Alibaba’s Taobao Live and influencers, many businesses themselves took to live streaming to garner customer support to survive the pandemic. Thousands of farmers, mom-and-pop stores, freelancers, manufacturers and suppliers were able to appeal to people across China to help them save their businesses by buying from them.

Live streamed events take over entertainment 

Apart from agriculture, live streaming became a very common medium for events like Karaoke contests, game shows, news forecasts and even TV shows. Wuhan, the epicentre of the pandemic, which was already the livestreaming capital of China and which has an official livestreaming “village,” became one of the first provinces to adopt live streaming wholesale during the pandemic.

Experts in China say that live streaming is here to stay. If businesses across the world – such as the US, UK, Australia, EU etc. want to export or sell to China, they can count on live streaming to be one of the best ways to reach Chinese consumers.

If you would like to add live streaming to your marketing and eCommerce mix, let us know. There is a healthy live streaming industry here in Australia, selling to local Chinese and those abroad, available and ready for business to use.