Taobao’s live streaming function has become the main platform for internet celebrities (网红 wǎnghóng in Chinese) to monetize their fanbase.

Recording 180% growth in 2016, live streaming (直播 zhíbō) was one of the hottest topics in China last year and is still wielding influence in the country. While some investors have raised their eyebrows about the sustainability of mushrooming live streaming apps that secured less than 10 million downloads in China last year, the wanghong business itself is getting bigger and is now targeting for content-hungry niche audiences. For example, as Taobao live streaming serves more detailed and vertical needs of consumers, introducing more categories of products including food, maternal and child product, beauty product, sports, and fitness product.

Taobao, as the biggest C2C marketplace in China, stands on the throne of other live streaming apps, since its live streaming goes directly to sales. After gaining fans, wanghong have clear intention to make more money, and they find various ways to monetize their fanbase, such as being part of a weishang to sell cosmetics, become a fashion influencer to start their own store on Taobao or live stream brand products to viewers.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com