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The Power of Streamers

Austin Li is one of the most popular streamers in China, holds live streaming sale program on the Taobao platform. He has made an unbroken record of realising 23,000 deals worth around $508,668 in his live stream section on March 7th. Another Chinese influencer Viya invited Kim Kardashian to her live stream platform and helped Kardashian to sell more than 15,000 bottles of perfume in just few minutes.

Source: Sina Weibo (the left is Austin Li and the right is Jack Ma)
Source: Sina Weibo (Kim Kardashian joined Viya’s live stream platform)

The booming of the live streaming in e-commerce industry has attracted thousands of Chinese social influencers to become live streamers on “Taobao Live” (Official live streaming platform of Alibaba Co., mainly used to promote the product). During the live streaming show, live streamers will display the product and share their own personal user experience. Customers come to see sale streaming and they make comments or ask some question about the sold items via bullet chat[i] at the same time. The live streamers will respond to some of questions in order to deliver valid information. If they are satisfied with the product, they can make a purchase directly on the Taobao.

Source: Screenshot of Li’s live streaming sale(He was trying to promote product)

The live streamers definitely re-define “influencer marketing”, which is one of the symbols of digital economics. As mentioned before, most live streamers are also social influencers, who owns more than millions of fans on social network. People are quite familiar with traditional influencers marketing: the corporation between brands and influencers. A popular way is to invite the influencers to make a video to promote the product, either by sharing their own experiences with the brand or just introducing the product in more detail . For example, the Emirates invited Casey Neistat to experience “the $21,000 first Class Airplane Seat”, and he recorded every aspect of the experience and uploaded to YouTube. This video was watched by more than 71 million people, and Casey has around 1.19 million followers .

Source: Casey Neistat’s Youtube Post, Available at:

Let’s consider the following question: How many of the 71 million viewers will finally become the potential customers of emirates and finally make a purchase of first-class ticket which is worth around $21,000? There is no doubt Neistat’s video help Emirates to establish a luxury brand image, but the conversion rate from YouTube viewers to Emirates customers is unclear. By contrast, the marketing method live streamers provided can tell the brands their ability to sell product, illustrated by the sales volumes after the live streaming section, and this advantage is considered as one of the one of main drivers of the booming online live stream sales. With sales figure, the collaboration between live streamers and brands consolidate. Long-term corporation might establish. Brands prefers to start corporation with live streamers rather than the mainstream celebrities to promote its product. On the one hand, brands pay less commission to the live streamers, but the sales are still guaranteed. On another hand, live streamers usually are more professional when make an endorsement, and they can widen audience and increase brand awareness.

As for viewers, live streamers provide better online shopping experience. Traditional e-commerce is always blamed for insufficient product information and poor product quality, as most online shops are private owned. Live streamers can help solve the problems. Firstly, real-time broadcast enabled viewers to get better understanding of items by the frequent interaction with the live streamers. Besides, live streamers are also internet celebrities, who live upon their reputation. Selling product with poor quality will lower down the credibility of the streamers. Finally, live streamers help stimulate customers to buy extra products. Some viewers expressed they always purchase items beyond their shopping lists. Some viewers even watch live streaming for entertainment without specific purposes. The “shoppertainment” (combination of shop and entertainment) is now the symbol and character the livestreaming industry.

In the future, live streamers will play an important role in the e-commerce industry because of their incredible ability to increase revenue. According to Wen Zhong, Senior Director of Taobao Content Ecology, said “Taobao Live has become a ‘standard configuration’ for ecommerce shops doing business on Taobao, rather than an “optional choice’.” The majority of the e-commerce platforms in China take the construction of live streaming platform as their business goal, because they see huge potential behind the industry. At present, most of live streamers are key option leader, who have influence on a certain industry. Austin Li and Viya are influencer in beauty industry and mainly sell related products. In the future, live streamers will expand their business areas from products in some categories to all categories item on the platform. Besides, the audiences of the live streamers are expected to change from the original followers on the social networks to all customers in the society.

China has already established matured Live streaming eco-system. Streamers first appear in the game industry, but the majority of top streamers (ranked by the donation they attain) are from the daily life section and entertainment channel in China. E-commerce shopping is only in the third place, and the popularity of education is followed after the five contents. Education industry is full of opportunities, market value of online education is expected to reach $77.95 billion in 2022, The benefit of economics scale encourages more students to choose online education. With technology advance, live streamers are able to deliver online courses, and this can enhance the education industry and profoundly change the way of studying in the following years.

Source: iMedia Research @ Statista. 2020
Source: iResearch @ Statista 2020


1. Tianyi Gu(2019) An introduction to the streaming market in China and How it differs from the west. Available at: 10 February 2020).

2. Statista(2019) Popular online streaming content types in China Q3 2019. Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2020).

3. Statista(2019) Market size of online education in China from 2012 to 2022 Available at: (Accessed: 9 February 2020).

4. Influencer Marketing Hub(2019) What is Influencer Marketing: An in Depth Look at Marketing’s Next Big Thing . Available at: 9 February 2020).

5. Yu Zhiming(2019) 3 things to know about super-famous, lipstick-selling livestreamer Austin Li. Available at:,-lipstick-selling-livestreamer-Austin-Li.html (Accessed: 9 February 2020).

6. Daxue Consulting (2019) How to do KOL marketing in China. Available at: (Accessed: 11 February 2020).

7. Rebecca Sentence (2019)  Why livestreaming is a major part of Singles Day 2019. Available at: (Accessed: 11 February 2020).

8. Adina-Laura Achim(2019) Trends in Digital Marketing in China Available at: (Accessed: 11 February 2020).


2 thoughts on “The Power of Streamers

  1. Hi Sihui, your post gives lots of data to explain how strong the power of stream, which is really persuasive. I have to say, I am also a follower of Austin Li. Indeed the digital economy provides
    people with new job options. The data and technology support these KOLs (key opinion leaders) a new platform to use the bandwagon appeal and ‘influence marketing’ selling products. At the same time, a new channel, O2O mode, opened for goods.
    Some applications like Tic Tok and Taobao even support interactive function and the link service crossed platforms. However, the return rate of e-commerce is also high.
    It is still a potential industry because of the high ROL (return on investment) and the rapid development of the digital economy.


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