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Livestreamers: The game changers of Double 11 shopping

2019/11/12 11:14:47   source:CGTN

Shopping turned into something akin to national revelry in China when the annual world-renowned Double 11 festival kicked off on Monday.

The sales on Alibaba's Tmall hit 10 billion yuan (about 1.43 billion U.S. dollars) in 96 seconds after midnight on Monday, 29 seconds faster than last year.

Initiated by Alibaba's e-commerce platform Taobao.com in 2009 as an annual sales promotion day, the event involves not only online and offline retailers in China but has also spread to the international market and even started to reshape some industries. The festival has so much presence that it has attracted the attention of numerous livestreamers or internet personalities with millions of online viewers. Seeing the enormous earning potential, they promote – anything from makeup to small appliances.

As the shopping festival marks its 11th anniversary this year, CGTN explores the rise of livestreamers and how these internet personalities have helped change or reshape the ecology of China's e-commerce industry.

Livestreamers, the new game changers

Livestreaming is not new, but the sensational livestreamers are always new. This year, the most sensational livestreamer is no doubt Li Jiaqi, the 27-year-old cyber celebrity who sold out 5,000 lipsticks within three minutes during a sales promotion on June 18.

Li always appears on camera in thick makeup, trying on different lipsticks colors and sharing his experience using them. He recommends the ones he likes with this trademark slogan, "OMG! Girls! Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!"

And it works! His records include selling 8,000 sets of makeup in one second, earning a six million yuan (85.8 million U.S. dollars) turnover within hours, and he has vowed to attempt to sell out goods worth one billion yuan (14 million U.S. dollars) during the Double 11 festival this year.

Having started out as a salesman for a makeup brand, Li now has nearly six million followers on China's social media platform Sina Weibo, and 34 million on short video platform Tik Tok. The media has dubbed him the "Lipstick King," and he earns a monthly income of hundreds of thousands of yuan.

His popularity has also earned him access to some of the prestigious fashions shows with top brands in the fashion industry and jobs working with celebrities, such as singers, supermodels, and TV and film stars.

Blurring the boundary between social media and traditional celebrity

Brands have also shifted their focus from traditional celebrities to the newly rising group. As is perceived and exclaimed by Chinese netizens, the boundaries between the idols and the "web reds" (the Chinese name for cyber celebrities) have become increasingly blurred.

Many film and TV stars have gradually shifted their focus to the livestreaming industry as well; only they are not performing as well as livestreamers such as Li Jiaqi.

Instead of becoming livestreamers themselves, many stars prefer to work with cyber celebrities to promote their own brands or benefit from the livestreaming frenzy. Either way, it is a win-win situation.

A still of Li Jiaqi livestreaming with Chinese actress Angelababy on his Sina Weibo account.

Meanwhile, many of the cyber celebrities have started to appear on TV or online variety shows, and some of them could even expect to make appearances in TV series and films as well.

But promoting goods via livestream is not without controversy.

Days before the Double 11 event this year, while promoting a nonstick pan during his livestream, an egg Li was frying stuck firmly to the pan. The incident raised doubt over the quality of the products he sells.

The National Radio and Television Administration issued a notice the next day, urging the platforms to regulate the contents in the livestreaming shows to protect customers from being misled or deceived.

The public has also started to question the professionalism and acting skills of some of the TV and film stars who have invested a lot of time in livestreaming.

However, as the Double 11 continues to boom, there will always be newcomers, as long as the stage remains open and competitive. The question remains, who will start the next trend, and who stays when the tide fades away?

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Sponsor:Information Office of Shandong Provincial People’s Government