Have you ever missed the customer service and interaction that is part of the physical retail shopping experience but also prefer the convenience of online shopping? In response to movement restrictions due to the pandemic, various new retail approaches have emerged to satisfy consumer needs and attract customers, one of which being livestream shopping which is one of the biggest trends to emerge in the e-commerce sphere. Livestreaming combines real-time interaction with instant purchasing, providing a new avenue for vendors to promote their brand and draw in customers, so how have the shopping-loving Malaysians in lockdown reacted to this new innovation?
What is Livestream Shopping?
Livestream shopping operates in a similar fashion to the home shopping TV shows which first became popular in the 1980’s, with livestream shopping being an evolution of the format which takes full advantage of the interactive potential of social media. A person (occasionally an influencer or celebrity) demonstrates and promotes a product on a livestream, while also providing various avenues for the viewers to purchase the product during the broadcast (e.g. through a link to the product on an e-commerce platform or buying sending orders to a whatsapp number). These are usually streamed on e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba’s Taobao, Lazada, Shopee, and sometimes on general social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
However, unlike traditional home shopping TV shows, shopping via livestreaming offers more engagement between viewers and the host of the program, as the audience is able to interact with the broadcast in real time through likes, polls, and comments. Viewers can send questions to the host through the live chatbox or even talk to other viewers about their opinion and feedback on the product. Besides that, gamified content is used to entertain viewers and reward them with promotions, discounts, or giveaways, e.g. providing the audience with a discount code once the total number of viewers reaches a point, or doing a lucky draw where one or more viewers in the audience will win a free gift.
This method was first introduced in Alibaba’s Taobao Live in May 2016. E-commerce stores were linked up with online livestream broadcasts and offered functions such as live chat, reaction buttons and seamless instant purchasing to viewers so they could watch and shop at the same time. This approach further established itself during Singles’ Day in China when Taobao’s sales event featured a livestream with a famous influencer in 2019.
In 2019, livestream shopping was reported to generate $60 billion in global sales. Based on the data by Cyberspace Administration of China, almost one in every three Chinese users have bought products through livestreams. In 2020, the Singles’ Day pre sale campaign on Taobao Live made $7.5 billion in the first 30 minutes.
While not as prevalent in the West, more brands are pursuing live e-commerce. Facebook developed its own livestream shopping tools and launched Live Shopping Fridays. Instagram has their own livestreaming function in Instagram Live and has added more in-app shopping functions. Not lagging behind, Amazon also launched Amazon Live, enabling influencers and brands to create their own shoppable shows.
How Does Livestreaming Benefit Brands and Consumers?
Livestreaming is an ideal way for brands to get closer to customers, greatly improving brand appeal and differentiation. Livestreaming keeps viewers entertained and generates more interest towards the product than would otherwise be possible if the product was only being viewed on a static shopping platform. The interactions between the host and potential customers allow the brand to create a character and personality of its own, making it more relatable and recognisable to their customers. These real time interactions allow vendors to build relationships with their customers, while the promotions that are made available during livestreams give customers the incentive to tune in to subsequent livestreams, thus enabling the vendor to build their audience with each successive broadcast.
In a nutshell, livestream shopping combines the best of both worlds between traditional retail and e-commerce. Shoppers can get immediate feedback from the seller and view products in real time from the comfort of their homes, or even enjoy the convenience of being able to view livestreams for products they are interested in using their mobile devices at any time regardless of whether they are out or at home. As long as they have a stable connection, viewers can enjoy a live shopping experience anywhere in the world, and be confident that they are producing an authentic product as no image manipulation is taking place.
Have Malaysians Made Livestream Shopping Purchases?
With livestream shopping becoming increasingly popular worldwide, how have Malaysians reacted to this emerging trend? Are they as enthusiastic as the people in China or still gradually warming up to the idea like Western audiences are?
As observed from the graph, the percentage of people who said they made purchases from livestream shopping in the past 3 months has been on the rise. Livestream shopping has seen a drastic growth of 53% in the beginning of 2021 compared to the fourth quarter of 2020 where only 15% of people made purchases from livestream shopping. This increase can be attributed to the implementation of MCO2.0 that kept people at home under lockdown for the second time that year. As most businesses were unable to operate as usual during the lockdown, livestream shopping provided an opportunity for them to attract customers and stay afloat during a critical time.
In the second quarter of 2021, the percentage of people who made livestream shopping purchases maintained at 22%. This was due to the fact that MCO3.0 was enforced, and people opted to stay home and stay safe. It also implies that Malaysians are accepting this trend, possibly including repeat buyers who were satisfied with their previous livestream purchases.
The Demographic of Livestream Shoppers in Malaysia?
Most of the shoppers are from KL/PJ which accounts for 43%, followed by Johor Bahru (26%) and Penang (23%). The people in Kuantan show the least enthusiasm towards livestream shopping at only 8%.
Overall, the average age of livestream shoppers is 32 years old. People between the ages 18-24 and 25-34 show the highest at 32%. Generation Z and Millennials are more familiar with social media, many of whom are already in the habit of watching livestreams or following a certain influencers’ pre-recorded broadcasts. Thus, they are more appreciative towards real-time engagement with brands and retailers that livestreaming offers, boosting their eagerness to make purchases.
It can be noted that the older the person the less likely they are to participate in livestream shopping, with those above 45 years old only accounting for 13% of livestream shoppers. These people prefer traditional brick-and-mortar stores with personal engagement and are sceptical of new marketing tactics. Some of them may also be unfamiliar to livestreaming and require time to understand how to operate its functions.
In terms of gender, females make up 55% of livestream shoppers compared to males at 45%. Females generally purchase more items than males and enjoy the entertainment that comes from the experience of shopping around and viewing items through livestreams while men are more likely to take a conventional approach to shopping and buy whichever item they need on an e-commerce platform as long as the product and vendor appear decent.
Malays account for 57% of livestream shoppers, followed by Chinese (32%) and Indians (10%), which is more or less in line with the general racial demographic in Malaysia, showing that livestream shopping can most likely be said to be equally popular amongst all Malaysians regardless of race.
Most livestream shoppers are Non-PMEBs (46%) and PMEBs (38%). Students (11%) and homemakers (5%) are less likely to make purchases. This relates to income as livestream shoppers have an average income of RM8,000.
What are The Items Purchased via Livestream Shopping?
Beauty products (55%) along with Men (48%) and Women’s (45%) fashion products are the top 3 most popular items purchased through livestreaming. Looking into beauty products, perfume/cologne is one of the most popular products purchased, followed by skincare and cosmetics. These items are considered daily necessities, especially for the working-class people who make up most of the livestream shoppers in Malaysia. In terms of fashion products, clothing is the most purchased item for both men (27%) and women (30%). Shoes and bags/wallets are also items of interest with men (20%) favouring shoes slighting more than women (17%). Clothing in particular is an ideal product to be promoted via livestream shopping since vendors are able to show off the designs and sizes of their apparel more effectively compared to still images on a static e-commerce platform.
At 21%, food is also a category of interest. Seafood stands at the top of the list at 11%, followed closely by fruits (9%) and fresh meat (8%). Food such as vegetables, snacks, and processed meat are less favourable. Since movement restrictions have been in place to curb the pandemic, home-cooking trends have been rising. As most people are working from home, they have more time to plan cooking from scratch or to experiment in the kitchen, and food vendors can use livestreams to demonstrate how ingredients can be used, making them more appealing to customers.
The Profile of Livestream Shoppers
Beauty products livestream shopping is primarily the domain of females, although interestingly 28% of the purchasers are men too. It also appears that even though the majority of the purchasers are in their 30s, there is a noticeable larger skew of aged 45 year-olds and above females also buying via this channel.
Meanwhile, men’s fashion purchasers tend to be the younger males, PMEBs and within the upper M40 group. Also, females do make up a decent proportion of purchasers here as well.
For food products, notably the buyers are mainly males (53%), Chinese (47%) in mid-older age (35 and above) and highly skewed towards the PMEBs and upper M40 and T20 group.
Overall, Malaysia is slower in the adoption of livestreaming compared to countries such as China and America. However, given the growing trend and the inevitable improvement of digital media in years to come, it is highly likely that livestream shopping will continue to grow in popularity as new technologies and features are introduced to social media platforms to enhance the interactivity and viewing experience for customers. Just as how livestreaming has become an integral part of the digital lifestyle in China, it can also be achieved in Malaysia with the right tactics and implementation.
If you would like to find out more about livestream shopping trends in Malaysia and get additional insights on this innovative marketing approach, feel free to contact us at: email@example.com
(Featured Image Source: PYMNTS)