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HomeTechnologyGadgetsPale pop stars become e-commerce live streaming stars at Douyin in China

Pale pop stars become e-commerce live streaming stars at Douyin in China

As other Shanghai residents grapple with prolonged isolation and food shortages, Taiwanese actor Will Liu is experiencing the highlight of his career. Formerly known as “Jay Chou’s close friend,” the 49-year-old singer and actor has been placed under quarantine in China’s largest city to finally rise to fame. Liu and his wife, Vivi Wang, skyrocketed to internet stardom from their Shanghai apartment by live-streaming their workout routine on Douyin, China’s local version of TikTok. The simple but grueling moves went viral, gaining him 60 million followers in just one month.

Liu’s rise in just a few weeks has demonstrated the star-making power of China’s short video industry, especially at a time when millions are stuck at home for weeks. China’s zero-Covid lockdowns hit offline retailers hard and tighten censorship reduced profitability The traditional entertainment industry’s Vlog and on-air economy is still a delightfully rare bright spot. significant growth during the pandemic. Among those who have found a new life as digital stars are not only domestic vloggers, but also the last generation of pop stars, entrepreneurs and Olympians trying to monetize their often outdated fame.

Since film, TV, and streaming programs were tightly controlled by the government or entertainment companies, short video apps provided a space for anyone to try their luck at getting rich and famous. “Everybody wants to win the lottery,” said researcher Chunmeizi Su of the University of Sydney. studies The short video industry in China. “If this platform will give me a second career or support me in my first career, why not try it?”

Liu and his wife are currently among China’s most valuable influencers, with viewership dwarfing even that of the country’s top e-commerce livestreamer. king of lipstick Austin Li. While still based in Shanghai, Li has taken a hit with his business due to supply disruptions caused by zero Covid restrictions, the quarantines have been the perfect opportunity for digital trainers to shine. Liu’s signature move Keep kicking your legs up to the Jay Chou rhythm. Women who follow the workouts every night, lose weightthey call themselves “Will Liu girls”.

The playbook is simple: build a strong digital personality, attract a significant number of followers, and ultimately earn money through shopping channel-style live streams, in-video ad placements, paid online courses, or tips from fans. Cecilia Cheung, 41, a Hong Kong star whose acting career peaked in the 2000s. peddler Skin cream, tissue paper and salt on Douyin and she almost hit it $10 million in sales during the first live broadcast show. Swimmer Sun Yang, who was banned from racing due to the doping scandal, went live from a duty-free shop. Yu Minhong, the once high-flying founder The top English language teaching company, New Oriental, also became a live streamer after her firm lost more than 80% of its market value due to Beijing’s ban on private tutoring. The GRE and physics teachers he employs are now sell food such as beef, durian and crayfish.

Chen Lihong/VCG/Getty Images

Even though the barrier to entry is low, the odds of becoming an outstanding influencer like Liu are almost as slim as winning a lottery. For example, restaurant operators in Douyin flight attendants businessmen, competing for the attention of some 780 million online shoppers. For those accustomed to starring in blockbuster movies or competing in international sporting events, entertaining mobile audiences requires an entirely different skill set. York Lee, a Beijing-based marketing specialist who represents retired athletes, said live-streaming salespeople are expected to continue speaking in front of the camera for four hours or more, but most sports stars hosts can only last an hour. Many also lack confidence and expertise in product selection. “Not everyone can be an e-commerce live streamer,” Lee said. rest of the world. “Athletes may have no problem talking about basketball shoes, but if you ask them to sell a smartphone [that is] outside of knowledge domains, this can be a huge challenge.”

Despite the growing number of older consumers, most buyers on short video platforms currently under 40, according to market research firm QuestMobile. Mint Xu, a marketing specialist working for a Korean cosmetics brand in Hangzhou, said that although pop stars charge high commission fees for including products in their live streams, they often fail to deliver as high sales figures as grassroots influencers who seem more relatable. and reliable for young buyers. “These celebrities only work on people from my family’s generation,” Xu said. “They just have an old-fashioned vibe.”

In addition to fighting for the attention of consumers, the entire industry must compete for the government’s blessing. Last year, several top live streamers were banned for alleged tax evasion. China’s cyber watchdog in April promised strict controls on influential accounts and the agencies behind them to clear the “chaos” in the short video and live broadcast industry, such as expose one’s wealth or to defraud consumers with false personalities. With more edits coming, the buzzword in the short video industry is now “positive energy” — An umbrella term encompassing the official values ​​of the Communist Party, such as patriotism, hard work, and respect for parents. “The party line is the bottom line,” said Su of the University of Sydney. “For anyone who wants to join the short video industry, you should be aware of the party line so as not to cross the bottom line.”

Like other Taiwanese celebrities who take advantage of the huge mainland market, Liu remains silent on politics. While other Shanghai residents protested the two-month quarantine online, Liu and Wang always seemed upbeat. The couple previously got into an argument in Taiwan. marched against same-sex marriage (later legalized), but not an issue in China, where discussions about gay rights are often censored. In a recent interview, Liu’s manager said that having three kids was a solid starting point for the couple’s career as influencers, because they matched Beijing’s. three child policy.

Fans are now pondering how Liu will monetize his fame. On the Taobao shopping site, vendors labeled their water bottles, yoga mats, and socks as “same as Liu’s.” The first obvious product placement in Liu’s workouts was the Fila shirts and shoes he wore with his wife this month. And they stopped promoting soy milk at the end of a recent study. As a popular saying in China goes, “The end of the universe is selling something live.”

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