While e-commerce live streaming has existed in China for several years, 2019 has been the year that it really took off and became a widely accepted means of promoting and selling products. This is largely due to live streaming’s strong appeal among consumers in lower tier cities in China. These lower tier markets are seen as the next big opportunity and brands are eager to try new methods to connect with this audience.
Alibaba’s Taobao live streaming platform is both an early adopter and leader in the e-commerce live streaming space, and over the past few years they have cultivated a strong base of high-performing live stream hosts.
The most famous of these hosts is Austin Li, or “lipstick brother,” who has become famous for his ability to try on and sell beauty products at unimaginable speeds. On top of that, he was the first Taobao live streamer to really make a name for himself outside of the Alibaba ecosystem and move into the mainstream, developing massive audiences on Douyin and Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu).
Yet while Austin may be getting all the buzz, (and his results are nothing to scoff at!) he is actually not the top ranked live streamer on Taobao. That position goes to a streamer named Viya, who’s selling skills are revered by beauty assistants and sales associates across China. Recently on October 10th, she broke her own sales record once again, driving 353 million RMB (roughly 49.7 million USD) in sales in a single day.
How is she able to generate such incredible results? Here are six of the secrets to her success:
1. Viya will not feature a product in her live stream unless it has been rigorously tested by her and her team.
Every day, prior to her streams, she spends around four hours testing and reviewing products to be featured on her shows, and only with her final permission can a product be added to the lineup. By the time these products have even gotten to her, they have been heavily filtered by her team. In total, Viya has a team of 200 employees. Within that there are three groups specifically dedicated to selecting and testing products.
One group is in charge of selecting products, seeing if the brand has a good reputation and if there are any negative comments about its products. The second group is in charge of checking ingredients of products, making sure that they are safe to use. The last group tests products. If the product is a snack, they will eat it and give their feedback. If it is a facial mask, they will use it for a few days and look for results. This stringent selection process instills a high level of trust in Viya’s audience that she will only recommend high-quality products.
2. Create an immediate problem or need the consumer didn’t know existed
Viya is very savvy when it comes to understanding the psychology of her viewers. For example, she was trying to promote dental floss. But many consumers in China think they can just use toothpicks. So instead of focusing on the long-term pros and cons of floss vs. toothpicks, she made the problem a child safety issue, telling viewers that their children might imitate them and try to use toothpicks too, which could be very dangerous as toothpicks are sharp objects that could easily damage a child’s gums or poke them in the eye. Dental floss was a safe alternative. This angle made the issue urgent and immediate and inspired action from viewers.
3. Sell specific products to specific audience segments
In one of her recent live streams, Viya featured a 2,000 RMB refrigerator made specifically for storing beauty and skincare products. When viewers questioned why they would need a refrigerator for beauty products she didn’t waste her time trying to convince them and make the product appeal to everyone, instead dialing in on those viewers who frequently buy high-end beauty products.
4. Develop loyalty and ownership over a specific audience
In China it is common for streamers to address their audience with the endearing terms宝宝 or 亲爱哒, essentially the Western equivalent of honey or sweetie. But Viya is different, dubbing her followers the “Women of Viya” (薇娅的女人). From this nickname, it’s clear that Viya is not interested in male consumers. And the nickname also attaches a subordinated relationship between Viya and her fans. Once you enter her live streaming room, you are one of her women, you are part of her tribe, making viewers feel more loyal towards her.
5. Careful wording to avoid after-sales issues
Viya is very careful to never promise specific results from the products she sells. For example, when selling a slimming tea, Viya told her audience that it tasted good and would not cause an upset stomach but avoided stating how much weight someone would lose or which parts of their body would lose the most weight.
6. Invite celebrities with hosting experience
We’ve all heard the power of celebrities to drive sales, whether that’s through live streaming or other means. Viya has also leveraged celebrity influence, but she is very selective with who she invites to join her streams and tends to invite celebrities that have experience with hosting, such as Xiao S (小S), Lin Yilun (林依轮), and Li Weijia (李维嘉). It’s likely that with their hosting experience these celebrities come across as more natural and comfortable during the stream.
Whether your brand is looking to work with established live streamers or develop in-house talent of your own, observing the practices of top streamers such as Austin and Viya can provide excellent insight into what it takes to run a successful e-commerce live stream.