Inside Social Commerce – the New Breed of Influencer Marketing in China

What would Kim Kardashian have to do with mahjong on the most active e-commerce platforms in China?

Some theorize that the celebrity’s selling-power, with 150M followers on Instagram, boded well on a livestream channel run by popular Chinese celebrity, Viya, on Taobao, China’s e-commerce platform.

Indeed, Viya’s influence on China’s consumer is well-studied – at her peak in October, she sold nearly $50 million worth of goods in a single day. So after a quick product demo, Kardashian sold 150,000 bottles of perfume in mere seconds.

Kardashian’s appearance on the channel – and appeal to mahjong, a popular Chinese boardgame — is part of the larger effort to ramp up sales of her signature line of fragrances, KKW, for “Single’s Day,” China’s largest shopping day of the year. Last year, Single’s Day generated more than $30 billion in revenues for Alibaba’s two online platforms, which includes Taobao. This year, that number has crossed a record high of $38 billion – more than five times the online sales for Black Friday last year, in the United States.

Tellingly, despite China’s slowing economy, and fears of repercussions from the US-China trade war, sales through China’s ‘social commerce’ – a fusion of social media and online shopping – is more robust than ever. Through this ecosystem, e-payments, livestreaming, and e-commerce are integrated, allowing influencers to drive consumption.

Kardashian is one of Alibaba’s 500 recruits from ten countries. And soon, she’ll be one of many more. The retailer has announced plans to recruit and train 2,000 influencers to sell international goods to Chinese consumers, and celebrities are buying-in. Taylor Swift headlined the countdown for Single’s Day this year, on Nov 11, while Rihanna is marketing her brand, Fenty Beauty, through another one of Alibaba’s platforms.

Inside Social Commerce – the New Breed of Influencer Marketing in China