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Training pays off for livestreaming hosts

By HE WEI in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-08-07 07:27

Questions answered

While some observers have questioned how livestreaming differs from its predecessor, television shopping channels, Pei said synchronization and interaction have been the ultimate gamechangers.

"With real-time connection, potential customers can get answers to urgent questions and gain a more comprehensive impression of products, making promotional activities more convincing and effective," he said.

Chen Wangyu, 29, who lives in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, was persuaded that she needed a $300 Dyson hairdryer during a livestreaming show hosted by Viya Huang, arguably the country's top-ranking internet celebrity by transaction volume. Chen bought the dryer just four days after purchasing a hair straightening product, which was also endorsed by Huang.

Yi Chao, a former TV host in Shanghai who is instructing potential livestreaming hosts at the city's Sheshan Internet Celebrity Training Base, said: "You need to be outspoken, react fast, know the latest trends, and tell jokes when necessary. Being familiar with products, along with having a well thought-out script, can really make a difference to sales figures."

However, while internet celebrities have the ability to increase a brand's market share, the cost of livestreaming can be prohibitive.

Wang Gao, a marketing professor at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, said livestreaming usually involves a preset endorsement fee and commission of 20 percent to 40 percent on sales.

"In some cases, businesses are spending big bucks only to find that users have become more loyal to the celebrity, rather than the brand itself," Wang said. "So, for most brands, it's more a case of a one-off deal that lacks sustainability."

This stark reality has led to some cash-rich brands setting up their own livestreaming teams and studios to keep a firm grip on online traffic.

For example, livestreaming is being developed at L'Oreal Paris, one of the best-selling beauty brands in China, with such broadcasts becoming part of its daily marketing routine.

The company's livestreaming team has adopted a three-pronged approach: using top KOLs; employing dedicated full-time hosts it has trained; and using marketing and sales teams who take turns to front broadcasts.

Zong Guoning, L'Oreal Paris China brand general manager, said: "We normally run several sessions a day, whether in offline stores or via e-commerce channels. I know the products well and want to have a direct conversation with the customers."

She said there is huge potential for livestreaming to attract new groups of customers. In her company's case, older clients are now taking to socializing and shopping by phone.

"Compared with simply promoting sales, providing premium services is more of an end in itself," Zong said. "Answering questions posed by livestreaming audiences has been an effective way to engage with customers, contributing to a huge brand asset."

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