For US brands that are considering testing out Asia before jumping head first into the market, they should consider the rise of e-commerce live streaming options that are proliferating in the far east, especially in China.
Before Netflix, on-demand and other streaming services, if you woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep you’d turn the television on to find long TV shows essentially selling a product. They had a simple formula and often had easy payment schemes. These long form infomercials have been a namesake of late night TV since P&G invented the soap opera concept and today continue to have a strong following on channels like HSN and QVC. At Newell Brands, we had a lot of success advertising many of our kitchen appliances through these mediums but the reality is the demographic who buys on these platforms is aging and the model needs to be reinvented.
At Casper, I brought the idea of e-commerce streaming to test appetite for US mattress brands in Asia. It was a market that the brand wasn’t presently in but there was tremendous competition and a lot to learn about the way younger consumers shop on the superapps (Alibaba, Tencent, etc). The idea of creating a 30 min segment on sleep doesn’t resonate as consumers opt to consume micro bits of short form video, and given the digital first nature of live streaming, you can attach an even more precise ROI than using traditional media channels.
This idea continues to get traction as Bloomberg recently did a piece on the growing trend of e-commerce live streaming in China and highlighted how some are making a livelihood by being a modern day saleswoman for brands. They tap into massive audiences sitting on the super apps and leverage their selling capabilities and unique stories to move physical products. Fulfillment and logistics are all outsourced so the creators literally focus on the content.
US brands need local solutions to understand this movement which led NY based Union Square Ventures to invest in a startup called ShopShops which focuses on helping get western brands in front of Chinese shoppers. They essentially have hosts throughout Asia who do livestreamed features from the brands retail stores either here in the US or abroad. Consumers tune in during specific times in China and watch the latest from western brands. The best part is they can place an order and check out as well.
It’s a great opportunity with little downside to test appetite among Asian shoppers for your product before considering the more costly (and arguably risky) idea of entering a new market and finding licensee’s, JV’s or building an operation from the ground up.