Chinese Livestream Festival Breaks Records

livestream shopping

As the U.S. prepares for its immersion in livestreaming, new data from China shows that the mid-year 618 shopping festival broke records for revenue and viewership. According to measurement company O’Ratings, livestream shopping generated $449.5 million sales during the 618 festival.

“Live stream shopping has been developed since 2016 by e-commerce platforms in China and set off an upsurge in 2018 when popular live-streamers could sell more than 300 million RMB (43 million US$) a year and their online viewers could reach 10 million at one time,” says O’Ratings. “During the pandemic, bridging the gap between the source of goods and consumers, the Chinese government encouraged people to use live-streaming to sell unsalable products caused by massive lockdowns and upgraded the live-stream shopping industry. Now live stream is indispensable for product marketing in China.”

O’Ratings monitored 806,000 chat rooms across different platforms on June 18th, the central day of the mid-year shopping festival that lasted a week in some cases. It showed that the amount of sales was over $500.6 million and 412 million viewers watched livestreams on that day. Taking the sales since the week before the festival day, total sales were $3.4 billion US. The top three best-selling categories on eCommerce platform Taobao were jewelry, clothes and food, and the top three on Douyin (Chinese TikTok) were food, mother and baby products and cosmetics.

“Timing is very important when retailers choose live-streamers to sell products. After calculation, it finds that every product is sold at a fixed frequency,” the company’s research showed. “Those fast-consuming products have a higher frequency than durable ones. For example, snacks’ frequency is one day, while cellphone’s is 55 days. Because if a live-streamer sells cellphones today, the fans do not need to buy another phone for some time. When retailers promote their products by live stream, they should notice the time period of product and whether the live-streamer has sold the same kind of product recently.”

Live streaming has taken Chinese retail into a new phase, Daniel Zipser, who leads McKinsey & Co.’s consumer and retail practice in China, told The Wall Street Journal. “For retailers now it’s about digital engagement, generating demand by exciting people and creating an experience.”

“Some analysts say China’s embrace of live-stream retail offers a glimpse of the future of shopping everywhere,” says the WSJ. “Others think Chinese consumers are more open to watching shopping broadcasts on their phones than, say, their American counterparts.”

Those American counterparts are just starting to get a taste of livestreaming. Glamhive is among a handful of companies bringing it to the U.S. Glamhive hosted its second event over the weekend, with noted Hollywood stylist Tara Swennen.

“The style, beauty, and designer communities are a close-knit one; many of us have worked together or known each other for years — and, this year has been a tough one. I’m thrilled by the opportunity to bring us all together and share our insights, experience, and advice with everyone who wants to be part of our community too,” said Swennen.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.