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Consumer sentiment towards livestreaming in China is on an upward trajectory, a positive sign for China’s booming livestreaming market. Latest research from Mintel reveals that nine out of 10 (89%) urban consumers in China* have watched livestreaming shows in 2018. This compares to the 58% who said the same in 2017—a 53% growth in just one year.

For the remaining 11% who say they do not watch livestreaming shows, the key barriers include a lack of interesting content (41%) as well as not having the time for it (34%). In fact, over half (52%) of urban Chinese consumers who have watched livestreaming shows in 2018 say the variety of content is the top reason why they watch. What’s more, the majority (92%) of China’s livestreaming audience agree that they’d like to see more high-quality livestreaming content.

Alina Ma, Associate Lifestyle Director at Mintel, said:

“Seeing how China’s livestreaming market has boomed in the last couple of years and with consumers increasingly watching livestreaming shows, Mintel predicts a positive outlook for the industry in the years ahead. Our research clearly indicates how essential content is for livestreaming to sustain, and further penetrate, China’s consumer market.

“Consumer interests do shift from time to time, so content variety is crucial. When brands are looking to reach consumers via livestreaming shows, it is important not to restrict themselves in too narrow a field. They should not simply stick to the most popular types of shows; they may want to offer diversified content, especially if they are aiming to attract new consumer groups with varying interests. What’s more, while consumers embrace the realness that more often than not comes with livestreaming shows, it does not necessarily mean that poor production will always be accepted. A balance of realness and good production value should be prioritised when making livestreaming shows. The most important thing for brands to consider is the quality of their content.

Equally important as content variety is the pursuit of knowledge; 52% of China’s livestreaming audience say that they watch livestreaming shows because they can learn something new. In comparison, in 2017, just 38% of livestreaming consumers said they watching livestreaming shows to gain new knowledge or skills.

Breaking down the gender binary, compared to women, men are more likely to watch livestreaming shows to interact with other audience (38% men vs 34% women), to have some company when feeling alone (21% vs 13%), or just to kill time (30% vs 25%). However, more women watch livestreaming because people around them are watching (25% women vs 22% men).

“Livestreaming shows, today, are seen as information channels. For brands, offering as much information and being as transparent as possible are important. For instance, food and drink manufacturers can come up with campaigns that include livestreaming the process behind how their products are created—a strategy that’s both informative and transparent in nature.

“Meanwhile, there seems to be a tendency for women to watch livestreaming to keep up with trends; while men watch for the shared experience as well as to kill time. On the other hand, the fact that more women watch livestreaming because those around them are watching indicates that women are more likely to discuss these shows with others or watch the shows under the influence of others,” Ma continued.

Finally, when asked what they tend to do while watching livestreaming shows, 63% of China’s livestreaming audience say that they post comments, 41% gift the host (streamers can cash out these virtual gifts), while over a third (37%) say that they chat with the host. On the flip side, just 14% say that they buy products or services that are featured in the show. Of these consumers who purchase products or services featured in livestreaming shows, close to two-third (64%) say that they have done so because they have seen the whole usage experience.

“Our research shows that while consumers are not likely to purchase products or services featured in livestreaming shows, when they do make these purchases it is because they have viewed the entire usage experience during the show; thus showcasing that usage experience is essential to drive purchase among China’s livestreaming audience. This signals a huge opportunity for brands to use livestreaming as a marketing and communication channel rather than a purchase channel.” Ma concludes.

*3,000 internet users aged 20-49, March 2018

Press review copies of Mintel’s Livestreaming China 2018 report and interviews with Alina Ma, Associate Lifestyle Director, are available on request from the press office.