China’s quickly developing market has created a new set of demands in terms of customer service and accessibility – making innovation the key to success. China is one of the most digitalized countries, with many companies taking advantage as their customers become more digitally savvy. Chinese companies had no choice but to adopt innovation at the core of their development strategies in order to stay competitive. The Chinese are hungry for entertainment. Live streaming in China is a thriving and fast-growing industry that has been made even more popular with COVID-19. It’s not just about watching celebrities live, but also interacting with them through chat rooms to create an interactive experience on both ends of the screen! With this context in mind, we will be looking at the adoption of live streaming by Wechat in this article.

Tencent’s Ecosystem

To begin with, let’s start by looking at Tencent, the company behind WeChat that has created its own ecosystem with several extremely useful apps and tools. Established in 1998, Tencent Holdings Ltd., also known as Tencent (腾讯), is a Chinese multinational technology company. Tencent is known for its various Internet-related services and products, which are highly used in entertainment, video games, as well as in artificial intelligence industries.

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What has made Tencent successful with Chinese netizens?

Tencent is specialized in new technologies and is one of the world’s largest companies. The success of Tencent comes from its social media, venture capital, and investment corporations. Thanks to the variety of services it has, such as social networks, music, web portals, e-commerce, mobile games, e-payment, internet services, etc. Tencent was able to be part of Chinese people’s lives. In China, Tencent is mainly used with its instant messaging apps like WeChat and QQ, web portals like QQ.com, and music services with Tencent Music Entertainment and Tencent Games.

In 2018, Tencent’s market value was worth more than US$500 billion, becoming the first Asian technology company to achieve this. Nowadays, Tencent ranks among the world’s top technology companies in terms of market value and innovation.

Tencent most popular App being Wechat.

What is WeChat?

Developed by the famous company Tencent, WeChat (known as Weixin 微信 in China) was launched in 2011 in Mainland China, and in 2012 in its international version. This app quickly became the world’s largest standalone mobile app, reaching 1 billion monthly active users in 2018. What was at the beginning only a mobile messaging app has become China’s number one app; with 1.21 billion users as of 2021.

(© Hootsuite)

Even though the messaging functionality remains the core of the app, WeChat’s ecosystem is extremely vast and appreciated by Chinese users. As of 2021, Wechat is the most used social media far beyond Weibo and is expected to grow even more in 2022.

(© Hootsuite)

Worldwide, WeChat is one of the leading social networks, ranking sixth in terms of active user number, becoming a lucrative marketing platform with its plethora of different functionalities. Its success relies on the fact that Wechat was able to integrate almost all the features that made the success of the world’s most popular networks.

WeChat: China’s Must-Have App for businesses

WeChat can be considered as a must-have app in China as it reunites all the services of Facebook, Skype, Slack, Amazon, and PayPal… WeChat started out as just a messaging app but now includes features like social networks with voice chat capabilities and other functions for entering into business agreements or handling money transfers between friends and as we will see later in detailed this post: live streaming.

WeChat’s Ecosystem

In fact, WeChat’s Ecosystem is one of the most complete in the world, providing text messaging with a hold-to-talk functionality, video conferencing, video games, the possibility to share pictures and videos on what is called the “WeChat Moments” and more recently, for live streaming.

As you can see, we can do almost everything just by using a single app that provides a wide variety of services. Take also into account that WeChat’s ecosystem is growing at a fast pace, with new functionalities added over the years.

Why does Wechat matter for businesses?

If you want to enter the Chinese market it is important to know that WeChat users can follow official accounts. On average, 49.3% of WeChat users are following between 10 to 20 WeChat accounts. In other words, the app is too big to ignore if you want to be seen as a legit company.

As of 2019, around 24% of the WeChat users followed less than ten official WeChat accounts. Almost half of the users followed between ten and 20 official accounts. When following these official accounts, they can for example take part in the brand’s live streaming

Live Streaming on WeChat: A Very Promising Feature

Over the years, China’s live streaming industry has grown exponentially, as Chinese internet users are fond of social interaction and entertaining formats that live streaming can provide. As a matter of fact, over the last five years, the number of daily video posts on WeChat has increased more than 33 times, while video content on WeChat Moments is up tenfold.

This explains why live-streaming has even become an important tool to attract Chinese online shoppers, with major social media and e-commerce platforms like Taobao, JD.com, WeChat, and Weibo paving the way.

WeChat Live Streaming

As the most popular app in China, WeChat’s live streaming functionality that is available for official accounts can be extremely rewarding and promising for the future of online retail. By doing live streaming, brands can attract easily and retain Chinese consumers. Since its launch, many brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Bvlgari, and Burberry have already taken advantage of live streaming, redirecting clients directly to their WeChat Store or e-commerce shop.

According to the survey conducted in 2021, around 94% of department store operators in China have already built WeChat mini-programs or WeChat Stores to attract more customers. Moreover, 3/4 of the surveyed department stores have already taken part in live streaming for e-commerce.

On the other hand in 2020, the most popular WeChat mini-program function among Chinese retailers was live streaming, with around 47% of the retail merchants using it. AI shopping assistance and digital membership were also popular, with 35 and 32% of them using these functionalities as well.

The Covid-19 Pandemic’s Impact on WeChat Live Streaming

The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the Chinese market. With people unable to go out shopping, retailers were forced to find ways of attracting consumers online as well as be able to give tips and advice. The most effective solution was using live streaming in order promote products and encourage customers purchase directly from them online.

 According to a survey on online shopping in China, the usage of live streaming e-commerce grew by 6.3% during the COVID-19 outbreak. Then, we can also see that shopping via short videos increased by 2.6% in comparison to before the pandemic. The two major players who were able to benefit from this shift in consumption were Douyin and Kuaishou.

Live streaming users in China

In 2020, there were approximately 617 million live streaming users in China, representing a penetration rate of 62.4% among internet users.

Live streaming can be a great tool to promote your business in China. Given the large population of Chinese internet users, you would do well if you use live video as part of an overall marketing strategy for this region. As shown in the graphic below, the usage rate among internet users in China is pretty consequential.

 In 2020, about 62.4% of internet users in China had live-streamed. E-commerce and gaming were the most popular content types of live streaming with about 388 million and 191 million users respectively. Thus, if you want to promote your products online, you’ll be able to potentially be visible by more than half of the Chinese population.

As mentioned earlier, e-commerce is the most popular content type of live streaming with about 388 million users in 2020, accounting for about 39.2% of the total internet population. Live streaming commerce is a new format that combines influencer marketing and social experience into a live shopping show on e-commerce platforms. Taobao, Douyin, and Kuaishow are the prominent players in the live streaming commerce market, and we can say that live streaming on WeChat also has a lot of potentials.

What are Chinese consumers purchasing the most during live streaming?

With live streaming shopping being a fast growing e-commerce trend in China, we can wonder what are the most purchased products during live streaming?

According to Statista’s survey about live streaming e-commerce in China, about 36.5% of respondents claimed that they had purchased clothing and apparel during an online streaming sale, while approximately 24% of respondents bought consumer electronics.

Best time slots for live-streaming campaigns in China

Such as other social media for which there are many suggestions when it comes to the time a post should be published, we can say that it is even more important when it comes to live streaming. Chinese people are working all day long but when they have a break, many of them like to watch live streaming. To give an idea on this subject, you can look at the following survey.

It is estimated that around 67% of respondents usually watch live streaming during their leisure time after dinner. About 2% of the Chinese population watches live streaming whenever and wherever possible. Watching shopping live streaming became a popular activity among Chinese internet users over the years, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

What will you gain from implementing WeChat Live Streaming?

The rapid development of WeChat mini-programs over the last few years has enabled the app to quickly ramp up its live-streaming e-commerce efforts.  Recently, and even more, after the COVID-19 pandemic, live streaming has become a powerful way to rapidly promote its services and products online.

Users can share their live streaming information in the format of a Mini Program code automatically generated by Tencent Live. When followers receive push notifications, they can simply click on the code and subscribe to watch the upcoming live stream.

Chinese people can watch often on their handsets celebrities and influencers and average citizens live broadcast everything from games and gigs to everyday lives. Research said that the users of live stream apps reached 200 million, roughly one-seventh of China’s entire population and one-third of China’s online population. The size of the market is estimated to be between 9 billion yuan ($1.37 billion) and 15 billion yuan and is projected to grow to 100 billion yuan by 2020.

Who are china’s live-streamers?

In China, 80% of live streamers are women even though they are representing only 20% of the total user base. When female users started live streaming, they were essentially receiving huge attention from male users. Then, as time passed, many female users are watching live streaming on WeChat.

It is also important to know that WeChat Live streaming users are also widely spread geographically across China. Interestingly, only 11% of users are from Tier 1 cities. 34% come from Tier 2 cities and 55% from Tier 3 cities.

WeChat initiates live-streaming shopping through its mini-programs

In January 2017, WeChat came up with mini-programs that quickly gained popularity. This particular feature made it much easier for WeChat to provide live streaming services to its users. The main goal of the mini-programs is to allow Chinese consumers to buy services or products without leaving the application. There is a lot of local and international brands which are using mini-programs nowadays. The majority of them have also included the “See-Now-Buy-Now” option which allows them to take part in live stream events via WeChat mini-programs.

For example, L’Oréal turned the Cannes Film Festival event into a shopping opportunity for Chinese consumers to purchase products, enabling them to use the “see now buy now” functionality accessible on its dedicated mini-program.

L’Oréal mini-program for the Cannes Festival

The live stream option within mini-programs allows brands to showcase their services and products as well as to attract and retain customers. It is a much simpler and easier way to do so, and live streaming shopping has become one of the top services through Wechat mini-programs.

Live streaming on WeChat

The importance of the video streaming feature is to let users record videos and events, and share them in real-time which will be more like live streaming. Users are also able to add stickers, emojis, filters, texts, and music directly during their live stream.

Along with the streaming service, WeChat has also planned to launch several satellite applications which will be linked to the main app and will also have an independent existence. Live streaming can convert traffic to other social media websites and apps, so it’s a great opportunity for brands to post some products or service-related content on their social media accounts after doing live streaming, in order to increase their brand awareness.

In fact, live streaming combined with other functionalities is a continuing trend that enhance the marketing experience and allows to push further promotional features.

Live streaming & e-commerce

The “Live streaming & e-commerce” mode is the most popular way to take advantage of the live streaming feature. For example, a live streaming channel embedded in the Mogujie app, a famous e-commerce platform for women’s fashion, and its stores that sell by live streaming have witnessed a 236% rise in customer retention within 30 days. This explains why so many e-commerce platforms encourage users and brands to use live streaming to promote and sell their products and services.

To understand how live streaming & e-commerce works, you can look at the following picture.

Process of e-commerce combined with live streaming

Chinese consumers have become increasingly drawn to foreign brands via e-commerce platforms. For small brands, WeChat stores are a cost-effective way to build a China e-commerce presence without paying large upfront fees on e-commerce platforms. For big brands, they can be used for different functions such as launching limited collections, live streaming makeup tutorials, or designing creative games.

How to take advantage of live streaming on WeChat?

KOLs: A Good Way to Gain Visibility

KOLs to promote your products on WeChat

If you want to sell your products in the Chinese market, you have to know that influencers or Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are highly appreciated in order to increase a company’s visibility and sell products. Some of these KOLs are even more popular than Chinese celebrities and that’s why Chinese consumers really trust them. However, finding the right KOL who will be able to promote your brand is not an easy task. As a Digital agency in China for many years, we were able to gather quite a few KOLs, and we will be happy to introduce them to you if you want to work with them in order to promote your products in China.

Contact us to Get Started on WeChat for Live Streaming

The Chinese market is one of the most promising in the world in terms of opportunities, both for smaller companies like startups, but also for larger international companies. But in order to succeed, you will need to adapt your marketing strategies to local demands and methods, such as using the most popular platform in China: Wechat. To do so, you will need to do a lot of research beforehand and develop a strong marketing and communication strategy. However, expanding its activities in China is not an easy task, as 50% of brands fail because they don’t understand the Chinese market well-enough. Working with specialists on the Chinese market is the key to success.

Designing the right digital marketing strategy is therefore key. Working with an agency which has both the western and Chinese point of view like Gentlemen Marketing Agency can help you overcome the pitfalls of the Chinese market. Our agency has developed the marketing strategy on Wechat for many companies. We have collaborated with many companies, helping them with their Wechat marketing strategies and our experts are here to help you develop yours in China.

Our services for Wechat:

  • Wechat eCommerce
  • Mini/Micro-Site Development
  • Ad Campaign Management
  • Content Promotion Strategy (Organic)
  • WeChat Content Creation & Formatting
  • Reporting & Analytics
  • HTML5 Content & Account Development
  • WeChat CRM & Menu

Of course, if you have questions or need more information about our services, do not hesitate to contact us so we can talk about your projects.

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