This blog post has been contributed by Kevin Fan, Senior Account Director at Brandimage, APAC
During this pandemic period, a new marketing tool is booming—livestreaming platforms. What started in China as a means to reach a larger audience has expanded to other markets as many countries are going through temporary, COVID-19-driven lockdown.
As nonessential shopping activities are limited to digital forums, livestreaming has become one of the key drivers for commercial growth and marketing resiliency.
The ‘New’ Trend for Luxury Branding
In its infancy, livestreaming as a form of e-commerce content kicked off as a transaction-driven tool, selling cheap goods, serving as a platform for people eager to sell. These behaviours were antithetical to luxury brands, going against their brand values and brand positioning. Livestreaming limits sensory or experiential shopping—both of which are primary selling strategies of luxury branding.
But these factors did not stop some luxury brands, such as Burberry and Michael Kors, from previously exploring livestreaming as another marketing tool. Burberry had participated in livestreaming events on the e-commerce platform Tmall to reach to a wider audience and to understand the platform and its users.
Because the pandemic has limited infrastructure and accessibility to consumers, livestreaming is now the remedy for luxury brands to continue engaging their consumers. Luxury brand Chanel has embraced livestreamed engagements during this pandemic: Chanel’s real-time fashion show, attended by a slew of top celebrities and KOLs, garnered 397,000 likes and 201,000 reposts on Weibo, inspiring many other smaller boutiques to adopt the livestreaming approach.
Always with a KOL/KOC
Livestreaming appears to be effective with the combination of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) or Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs). KOLs are the top choice for brands to promote their products due to the popularity that KOLs garner, whereas KOCs are widely welcomed by consumers, especially when promoting daily necessities.
Particularly, FMCG and CPG companies will benefit from appointing KOCs. Live demonstration of the products, direct Q&A sessions, and visual journeys help potential customers to follow through before deciding to purchase. This creates a more genuine and interactive form of brand engagement when physical interactions may be limited.
For instance, Li Jiaqi from China once sold 150,000 lipsticks within five minutes of a livestreaming session. Not only does he sell cosmetics, but he also sells a variety of items from dried mangoes to tampons. Brands looking for a quick sales boost may consider a similar approach. As this success has demonstrated, choosing a KOC such as Li Jiaqi (who has over 50 million followers) to perform a live demo showcasing your products in a single live streaming session will earn maximum sales.
Inspiration for e-Commerce Platforms
Lazada saw the potential in livestreaming through its sister platform, Tmall in China. It introduced hosted live sessions on LazMall in major social commerce markets, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.
Coupling the live sessions with a KOC or KOL drove higher traffic to Lazada’s website because consumers are now connecting with the eCommerce platforms as they would engage in a physical mall. It was a relatively low-risk initiative with a huge ROI, simply because the demonstration was more compelling during the live show.
But Is Livestreaming for Everyone?
While livestreaming has been beneficial for most retail and educational industries, it still poses a considerable challenge for other sectors that traditionally capitalise on human interaction. For example, the healthcare and the medical industries may face challenges leveraging livestreaming.
Health education, medical treatment advice or demystifying medical procedures can be hosted on live streaming as part of medical education. But a regular medical examination or procedures are nearly impossible without human interaction. Livestreaming is democratising medicine but limiting its capabilities to some convenient areas in the field even during the pandemic period.
So, is live streaming here to stay or a short-term marketing tactic during the pandemic?
It is a prime time for marketers to explore livestreaming while the industry is taking off, and customers are getting into the habit of relying on it as an e-commerce channel. It drives huge traffic numbers because of the sense of intimacy it creates with shoppers. There is no photoshopping or editing involved with livestreaming, making the experience enticing and authentic for consumers.
Live hosting sessions, demonstrations of products, or running a virtual live event streamlines the marketing ecosystem, delivering the output straight to the consumer. However, its capabilities depends on the nature of the industry—most beauty and fashion brands, CPGs, FMCGs, and retail stores are the most significant potential winners of this advertising channel.
Livestreaming has quickly become a key tool in expanding brand marketing and awareness. Instead of pigeonholing livestreaming as a one-off, you should integrate it into your post-COVID-19 digital campaigns. But first audit your marketing ecosystem and its nature to understand how livestreaming will impact sales before wholeheartedly embracing it.
About Kevin Fan: Kevin brings over 10 years of experience in delivering strategic contents across different industries from F&B to real-estate sector. He works with brands to create local and globally relevant contents and assets for usability across all channels and consistently provide high level of branding and communication strategies for campaign management.