Live Streaming in China: Guide for Fashion and Luxury Brand

As the popularity of live streaming grows in China, more and more fashion and luxury brands are turning to this outlet to reach Chinese consumers. But what are the best ways to use live streaming for your brand?

In this guide, we’ll take a look at how fashion and luxury brands can make the most of live streaming in China. We’ll discuss why live streaming is so popular in China, and offer some tips on how to create successful live stream campaigns. So if you’re looking to reach Chinese consumers with your fashion or luxury brand, read on for our essential guide.

How Fashion and Luxury Brands Can Use Live Streaming To Engage with Customers

Live video streaming in China (or anywhere else, for that matter) provides more than access to real-time content. Because of the platforms that facilitate live video streaming in China, sellers or marketers can engage with customers in real-time. This is a functionality that lives video streaming marketers in the luxury and fashion brand niche can take advantage of. 

One of the ways luxury brands can leverage the power of live streaming is with social media integration. For a video to reach a wider audience, it must first be shareable on social media. This is why it is crucial for luxury brands in China to have several accounts, each for different channels including social media. 

Getting Engagement with Chinese Social Media

A social media marketing strategy is essential in Chinese marketing. When it comes to live video streaming in China, a social media account can be a powerful driver of traffic. 

Social media in China can enhance live video streaming in two ways. First, a brand’s social media page can be another channel on which to broadcast live streaming. Second, it can be where brand owners can place links to live streaming videos present on the corporate site. 

Social media live streaming enhances the experience of consumers in one other way — engagement. Social media streaming platforms in China enable live messaging much in the exact way Facebook Live videos do. As a result, owners can communicate directly to members of the audience who send messages via the video platform. 

Live Stream on Chinese Streaming Platforms

Another area to host live streaming events is a live streaming platform. In China, options for live streaming abound, and most allow for live messaging with audiences and real-time e-commerce transactions. 

From left to right iQIY, QQ Video, Youku, Sohu

Live streaming platforms in China have millions of users, making them an ideal environment for content consumption and purchases. For this reason, having an account with a live streaming platform has usually been a standalone strategy for luxury brands breaking into the Chinese market. 

The key to leveraging the capabilities of live streaming platforms is selecting the right platform. The right platform is one that is both tailored to a brand’s target audience and has live messaging features. 

The Top 3 Best Fashion E-commerce Platforms for Live Streaming in China

In the West, consumers and markets are accustomed to the separation between e-commerce platforms and ones best suited for live streaming. In China, e-commerce and live video streaming are two online infrastructures that go hand-in-hand. Basically, an e-commerce live stream is a concept that allows viewers to buy products as they’re watching a stream.

Live streaming platforms in China all have e-commerce integrations. While one may not necessarily be better than the other, choosing one that caters to a specific audience can be challenging. 

For many companies that have high marketing spend, platforms like WeChat and TMall are safe options, targeting a wide variety of niches. To target audiences in the luxury brand and fashion niche, the following are the best platforms for live video streaming in China: 

XiaoHongShu

XiaoHongShu is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China. It is a retail e-commerce store in the same league as Zalora. As a fashion e-commerce platform, XiaoHongShu is a go-to option for a consumer demographic looking for luxury fashion finds. 

As of 2019, approximately 90% of XiaoHingShu’s user base consisted of young women belonging to the middle class — the perfect audience for any luxury brand owner. 

Kuaishou

More than 300 million users tune into the live streaming events of this relatively new e-commerce and live streaming platform. While Kuaishou has been around since 2011, it has only grown in prominence as an e-commerce and live streaming platform since 2016. 

As a newcomer to the live streaming space, luxury brands can capitalize on the platform’s element of novelty. In other words, being on a newer platform allows brands to gain younger followers. 

Taobao Live

Taobao Live is a live-streaming platform launched by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. It allows users to stream live videos of themselves shopping on Taobao, China’s largest online marketplace. Viewers can interact with the broadcasters and make purchase requests in real-time. Taobao Live has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it offers a unique and interactive way to shop online.

Bonus: It is directly integrated into the Taobao app, which is also connected to Tmall! it’s incredibly easy for a live-streaming watcher to finalize a purchase when watching a live broadcast on Taobao live. These live-streaming can also be integrated on the homepage of your Tmall flagship store.

Tips for Attracting New Audiences and Building a Loyal Fan Base

Chinese audiences in the luxury fashion space relish engagement and novelty. With these into account, fashion brands can attract fashion-forward audiences by doing the following: 

Enlist a KOL as a Host

This has remained a hotly debated course of action as many push for the use of less-costly influencers instead. Nonetheless, having a KOL involved in any Chinese marketing strategy can go a long way in generating much buzz around any product — luxury or otherwise. 

KOLs have a large and engaged following on social media, which can help to reach a wider audience for the brand. Secondly, KOLs are respected by their followers and seen as experts in their fields, so working with them can help to build trust and credibility for the luxury brand. Finally, KOLs often have strong relationships with other influencers and celebrities in China, which can help to open up even more marketing opportunities for the brand.

Schedule Live Streams Based on High Attendance Times

Despite most users being on their mobile phones, being fully present during a live stream event requires being at home, for the most part. It would be practical to hold live streaming videos in China during times when people are not at work or in school. Knowing this will require research on the ground. 

Promote the Live Streaming Event Ahead of Time

This is where your other channels like your corporate site and social media page will come in. Live streaming events are best advertised on various channels days before their airing. 

In order to promote a live streaming event in China, there are a few key things you’ll need to do.

  • Promote the event heavily on social media. Use Chinese social media platforms like Weibo and WeChat to promote the event.
  • Have a strong marketing strategy in place. Plan out how you’re going to market the event ahead of time, and make sure that all of your marketing materials are in Chinese.
  • Work with Chinese celebrities or online influencers to promote the event. This will help to generate buzz and increase attendance

Case Studies of Successful Live Streaming Campaigns by Chinese Fashion and Luxury Brands

Foreign luxury brands like Kim Kardashian West, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton have found success getting on the Chinese live-streaming bandwagon. Of course, live streaming would not have made waves without domestic patronage. 

Chinese luxury brands have taken full advantage of live streaming platforms and have the following and profits to show for it. Here are two examples of how live streaming can promote luxury brands in China: 

Luxury Jeweler, Chow Tai Fook

In 2020, luxury jeweler Chow Tai Fook held a charity jewelry live streaming event meant to raise funds for Wuhan’s early COVID-19 response. For the broadest reach, the Hong Kong-based jeweler chose TaoBao as its live streaming platform. Boosting the attendance rate further were the hosting efforts of Li Jiaqi, one of China’s most well-recognized young actresses. 

The brand keeps doing live streaming on Taobao that can be accessed directly through their flagship store.

ICICLE

ICICLE is a Chinese luxury fashion brand that started in 1997. In 2020, the Shanghai-based luxury brand conducted live stream showcases of its 2020 collection. Trying out big platforms like TaoBao did not yield the expected number of audiences despite the platform’s broad audience base. 

The fashion brand shifted its live stream marketing approach towards shorter content. For this reason, the brand fared better in an ad option that was perfect for shorter live stream content — WeChat Mini Programs.  

live streaming in china for luxury brands
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Live streaming on WeChat Mini Programs allowed ICICLE to generate new followers since the audience was within the WeChat ecosystem. Hence, after watching the live stream, ICICLE either gained purchases or new followers to its WeChat page.

Why Is Live Streaming So Popular in China? 

Since 2016, live streaming’s popularity has been on the rise. In 2021, the number of live stream audiences grew to half the size of the Chinese consumer market.  Representing 703.4 million live streaming users or a 68% market penetration rate.

This recent development can be attributed to two things. First, China’s consumer base has grown in its tech literacy over the last decade. The years since 2015 have ushered in a period of increased smartphone use among Chinese millennials. Mobile phone adoption in China has been on a steady increase, with as many as 40 million new users each year.  At the current rate of mainstream adoption, there will be a projected 1.28 billion mobile phone users in the country. This projected figure is more than 90% of the current Chinese consumer market. 

The massive mobile user population creates the perfect environment for the penetration of various media formats. Originally, mobile video sharing was the dominant video format for everything ranging from entertainment to news. Live video streaming in China offered access to both and more but with one additional selling point — real-time content. As a result, it did not take too long for China to warm up to live streaming, with both consumers and marketers catching the bug. 

The other event that contributed to the boom of live streaming is the COVID-19 pandemic. With brick-and-mortar stores closing down, business owners needed other ways to make sales. With no other space to turn to than the online space, business owners needed to advertise goods and sell them via streaming on various video platforms. 

The numbers show an interesting correlation between the surge in live streaming use and the pandemic. The number of live streaming users remained constant between 2016 and 2018, with a small peak occurring in 2017. However, there was a sharp uptick in live streaming usage in 2020 with users increasing to nearly 100% of 2018’s 3.9 million-user population. 

In short, live streaming in China is big due to a large smartphone user base and the massive clamor for live content. Couple this with changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and you can see why live video streaming will remain dominant for years to come. 

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