Taobao Live-streaming, RMB 100 million sales in 6 min

Tingyi Chen New WeChat features

“OMG! All ladies, buy it, buy it, buy it! “

This is the famous catchphrase of Li Jiaqi, the top-selling Taobao live-streaming host. 

“Buy it!”

He just broke a stunning record during the Single’s Day pre-sale on October 21st:

  • Record-breaking 100 million RMB of products sold within 6 minutes
  • 5-hour live streaming
  • Concurrent viewers reached 31 million
  • 39 products, each was sold out within 5 minutes
  • The first Taobao Live Streamer that has over 9 million followers

How does Jiaqi Li sell on Taobao Live streaming?

Gifts & lowest price guaranteed  

Taobao live streaming viewers are usually very price sensitive. Thus gifts or discounts are the prerequisite to work with Li Jiaqi on the live streaming campaign. His team made sure to provide the best deals to viewers during the campaign. 

Good pricing is the core of why users are willing to spend time to watch and wait to buy their favorite brands. 

Hero products & large brands

Not all brands mentioned during the campaign are large brands. But each live-streaming campaign will at least feature 2 well-known products from larger brands. 

He usually would leave one best selling product during the middle of the campaign, and another key product towards the end of the campaign. 

For example, the last product featured in one of the campaigns is MAC’s lipstick, color code Chili.

This the best selling color of MAC lipsticks. And as the highlight of the night, the live streaming sales start from midnight. Since viewers are only able to get gifts from MAC if buying from Li Jiaqi, many are willing to wait until the last minutes to participate. He strategically schedules smaller brands with larger brands to keep users excited and waiting for the next product.  

Lots of lucky draws 

Lucky draw is the best way to engage with viewers. He started his live stream with a lucky draw within the first minutes. 

Taking a screen-short of the users commenting during live streaming is a typical way of lucky draw to encourage engagement

Limited quantity & limited time 

Li Jiaqi made his Livestream into an extreme version of a flash sale campaign. The extreme scarcity drives viewers to make a purchase ASAP. 

  • Limited time: each flash sale only lasts 10 minutes at most, usually just around 5 minutes 
  • Limited quantity: the amount of each item Li Jiaqi introduced is usually between 30k to 3k. Sometime when a product is sold out within just minutes, he will add another batch of products. It almost seems like he is controlling the number of products making sure it will be sold out within the right amount of time 
  • Announcing the urgency: he will announce the amount of product left so that users won’t have much time to think except to make an order ASAP to make sure they get the product 
  • Limited time to claim the coupon: most of the products will come with a special trackable coupon, appearing on the screen. Viewers only have 3 seconds to claim the coupon

All these limitation makes a 4-hour long live-streaming exciting to watch. Viewers have to be on the edge of their seat acting ASAP in order to buy Li Jiaqi’s products. 

Constantly adjusting according to users reaction 

The live streaming campaign happens in real-time. While the host has to constantly engage with users by answering questions, e-commerce strategy is also constantly adjusting.

Each product is set up with a limited quantity to start with. Depending on how fast Li Jiaqi sells the first batch, the operation team may or may not add another batch for users to buy. The goal is to make sure every product Li Jiaqi promotes can be sold out, while selling enough so that brands can achieve an optimal margin. 

Review and improve

According to an interview with Li Jiaqi, the team has a daily meeting to review the sales performance of the live streaming campaign. The operation team will analyze each product, summarize sales tactics and improve based on that.  

Is live-streaming right for you? 

Top influencers are few, and therefore expensive

Taobao’s live streaming traffic is extremely concentrated on the top live streaming hosts. The amount of sales, traffic and the time spent on live streaming will affect the traffic Taobao allocated to the host of the next day. This causes an extreme concentration of traffic on some of the largest hosts. 

Wei Ya, one of the top-selling hosts, does 20 to 25 live-streaming campaigns each month. Around Double 11, each of her live streaming campaigns lasts 6 hours. 

Wei Ya, top Taobao KOL, usually sells cosmetics, F&B, and clothes

Li Jiaqi is also trapped in this vicious cycle of the Taobao algorithm. He hosts live streaming campaign every single day, each day for at least 3 hours. 

Wei Ya and Li Jiaqi’s effort do pay off. But thousands of other smaller live streaming hosts will never be able to reach even close to the top. 

Some analysts estimated that the top 2 players Wei Ya and Li Jiaqi amount for 50% the total amount of GMV sold on Taobao live streams.

While it makes sense for Taobao to only allocate traffic to top-selling hosts to maximize the GMV, it hurts smaller hosts that want to start a business and smaller brands that cannot afford the top tier KOLs. 

Pricing war 

Most of the live streaming viewers are extremely price sensitive. 

Thus the top KOLs will demand huge discounts or gifts, on top of commission or campaign fee. Li Jiaqi charges 800,000 RMB for posting one Douyin video. The Taobao live streaming is usually a fixed cost plus commission. 

Top tier brands might be reluctant to heavily discount products, which might hurt the brand perception. Thus, many choose to giveaway gifts instead of lowering the prices of their hero products. This also enables customers to be exposed to new products from the brand.

For mid-tier brands, it makes sense to sell a limited quality of product at this low or even negative margin, hoping it could bring long-term marketing effects. 

For smaller or premium products,  Taobao live streaming is simply not a good fit. The cost of the top KOL is way too high. It’s better to work with a mid-tier WeChat KOL to have higher ROI, users are less price-sensitive and investment can be controlled within 80k RMB. 

Product selection

Taobao live streaming purchases are extremely impulsive. Viewers would make a purchase for things that they won’t normally buy through the recommendation of the KOL. 

A lower priced item, a new, visually appealing product would be a better option for live streaming. It is not the right platform to compete on quality.

Douyin, Kuaishou, and WeChat

Live streaming campaigns on other platforms are also thriving. Many social media platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou drive live streaming traffic to Taobao. Below are the top-ranking influencers on Douyin, Kuaishou, and Weibo by GMV during the 11.11 pre-sales.

Surprisingly Kuaishou KOL really stands out as the top-selling (by GMV) KOL. 9 out of the top 10 KOLs are from Kuaishou, only 1 KOL is coming from Douyin.

The top-ranking Kuaishou KOL is Xin Youzhi. Xin Youzhi hosted a concert inviting top tier celebrities, including Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Wang Leehom, GEM and more. All these celebrities helped to promote Xin Youzhi’s live streaming campaign.

And just like that, with no previous history publishing content on Kuaishou, this KOL miracle became the top-selling KOL on the platform, charging 150k to 250k per campaign and 15-30% commission.

In fact, this meteoric success is so exceptional that it can shed doubt on the reliability of the data. But time will surely tell, as advertisers will see for themselves if the returns from Xin Youzhi’s campaigns hold to their promise.

WeChat also has a live-streaming feature. But since traffic on WeChat does not work on an algorithmic basis, the traffic on WeChat live stream are solely depending on the KOL.

Conclusion 

Lots of hype in the Taobao live streaming field. The top tier KOLs are completely dominating the market and generating an incredible amount of sales. It’s a game-changing channel that FMCG brands can’t afford to miss. 

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