For those outside China, Li Jiaqi, as China’s top live commerce host, is fascinating. With boyish good looks, he became famous selling lipsticks,makeup and skin care products.
He and his competitor Viya dominated the live commerce scene on Taobao – with thousands of other aspiring (and hardworking) hosts not even getting anywhere close to the views and GMV.
In June this year, there was a “incident” and Li Jiaqi disappeared from Taobao Live. (Viya disappeared earlier due to tax evasion issues).
Investors and industry observers started speculating who would fill in their void and become the new monarchs. Unfortunately nobody has yet been able to. Other hosts remained miles away from what Li Jiaqi and Viya could achieve.
On 20th September, Li Jiaqi was finally back to host his live session, hitting a record of 63.528 million views. (Live streaming platforms count views, not unique viewers).
But to the followers of Li Jiaqi, this is only a warm up for the annual 11.11 festival.
On 24th Oct, Li Jiaqi sold RMB 21.5 billion (US$ 2.9 billion) worth of goods during his 8-hour live session (presale for 11.11), doubling his own record in 2021.
A lot of industry practitioners believe that this data seems to be true, as most of the products listed on his live session are really sold out.
Why is Li Jiaqi’s performance important?
Many people did not expect Chinese consumers to maintain the same level of passion towards the 11.11 festival as previous years, given the present economic challenges and sluggish business environment.
However, Li Jiaqi’s performance seems to tell a different story, showing the vitality of China’s consumer market can still be strong.
Some friends in my community who participated in these marketing campaigns (as consumers), shared that they only shop because of Li Jiaqi’s “If it is not for his come back, I don’t think I would consume on 11.11 in previous years at all”.
On one hand, we cannot deny Li Jiaqi’s celebrity effect. A lot of consumers believe that Li Jiaqi has the power to convince brands to give customers the lowest price for their goods (through his live sessions).
One thing seems to be certain from this episode – it is that the consumption power and willingness are still there.
Just like this week’s stock rally in Hong Kong (allegedly triggered by an unverified post saying China will slowly reopen), the consumers (as well as investors) need some rally cry to regain the confidence.
One of the brands that we talked to mentioned that they actually reduced their stock this year, and put all the promotional effort on the new products.
Brands are adjusting to the changes and nuances of this year’s 11.11, and because platforms have been quiet in the media (for a reason – as they did last year), we will not expect the same buzz, but a lot of hardwork in the background.
We will anyway find out whether this year’s overall 11.11 festival can continue the growth trajectory in a few days time. It might not be that pessimistic as many analysts predicted it to be.