How to sell fruits via Douyin?

Tingyi Chen New WeChat features

Fruits are one of the hardest products to promote online. They are perishable, a commodity good, and have no consumer loyalty. Yet due to their affordable price, fruits are one of the best products for impulse purchases on social media.

Some fruits became extremely popular on social media.

How did these fruits become online superstars?

Product selection 

These popular fruits all have distinctive characteristics:

  • Pudding orange, just like the name suggests, contains a lot of juice
  • Zhu orange has a great startup back story
  • Sichuan mango has green skin

When creating a hit product on Douyin, it is crucial to only focus on one specific property of the product to make it easier for users to remember it.

Working with many mid-size influencers 

A key strategy for Douyin and Kuaishou is working with many mid-size influencers. These influencers are fairly priced, and working with many of them increases the chance of one of the videos going viral.

Earlier this year during the mango season, a fruit distribution company called Meiri Haohuo (每日好货) successfully made the Mango from Sichuan province viral on social media. This company focuses on building viral fruit products on social media via influencer marketing. Meiri Haohuo worked with around 2,000 KOLs on short video platforms. It was able to create multiple bestselling fruits on Douyin. 

This was one of the videos that became viral during the mango season.

It was posted by Baiguofang Fruit 百果坊水果. This video got 279k likes, 6k comments, and 350 re-shares. The product link in the video generated 650k RMB in sales. 

A viral video on Douyin often seems random. A couple of takeaways from this one:

  • Very short: this video is 12 seconds long. It increases the chance of the viewer completing the whole video. According to Douyin, the best promotional videos should catch viewers’ attention within 5-7 seconds, and full video length should be under 15 seconds.
  • Surprising twist, there is almost no connection between the fall and the fruit, this makes it an interesting plot for viewers to rewatch
  • The music and the hard fall makes people feel bad for the guy, thus more likely to comment 

But creating a viral video takes lots of trial and error. Since the success of this video, many other farmers tried to copy the “slip + show” move, but none of them were successful. The same account tried to repeat its success later with fruits like oranges, peaches, and apples. None of the videos reached the 5,000 likes threshold. 

Thus don’t put your egg in the same basket. Work with many mid-size KOLs to maximize the chances of success. 

Promote via Douyin’s Premium Marketplace 抖音精选联盟

Douyin has a marketplace where KOLs can pick a product and link it to their video.

An orange distributor used Douyin’s marketplace to work with KOLs on a commission basis. A box of orange sold for 39.9RMB and KOL could add a link to their video to receive a 15% commission. 50k boxes were sold in the last 30 days, and over 10k KOLs promoted the orange. 

Note that the sales picked up on December 15th, 20k orders were received, 589 KOL promoted the product bringing 770k impressions. Most likely one of the videos went viral. 

On average, 300-500 KOLs promote this orange every day. The sales amount doesn’t directly correlate with the amount of KOL promotion it gets. 

Here is another fruit promoted on Douyin. The sales trend is very unstable.

This pineapple product received around 500 orders in the last 30 days. Around 400 orders (80%) were placed from December 15th to 18th. Only 17 KOLs promoted the product. Orders are most likely coming from 1 video that went viral. But the order amount dropped to close to 0 right after the 18th, despite the fact that close to 500 KOLs promoted the product around the last week of December. Also note that this pineapple was sold for only 30RMB for 2.5kg, and 35% goes to the commission to the KOL. 

This kind of volatility is characteristic of Douyin marketing: high risk & high returns. However, most of the risks are taken by the influencers who are rewarded on a commission base in the rather unlikely event that their video goes viral.

How to list as one of the premium selection products?

Here is the official regulation explaining how to get listed.  

A few requirements: 

  • Having a Douyin native store (not Taobao)
  • 75% positive reviews
  • Working with an approved 3rd party storage partner
  • ERP integration 

After listing on the premium selection, merchants will be able to set up the commission rates to attract KOLs (the higher the commission rate, the more KOLs will be attracted to promote the product).

Conclusion

Sales on Douyin are unpredictable, relying on the unlikely event of a video going viral.

However, commission-based campaigns are low-risk for brands. There is no upfront cost, and potentially high rewards if a product becomes popular.

By working with a large number of small to mid-size KOLs, and by setting attractive commission incentives for special products, brands can turn Douyin into a powerful although volatile sales channel.

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