The Limits of Luxury Livestreaming

A year of COVID-fueled lockdowns led to the use of livestreaming to reach Chinese consumers, but luxury brands must do it right.

A year of COVID-fueled digital lockdowns, which have led to the use of live commerce to connect with Chinese consumers, has turned livestreaming from a “yes-or-no” dilemma to a “how-to” question for luxury brands. According to Coresight Research, Chinese consumers are expected to spend $300 billion on products featured in livestreaming videos this year. For brands, it has never been clearer that livestreaming is an unavoidable part of doing business in one of the world’s most digitally advanced markets.

Last year marked the arrival of China’s livestreaming trend for many because, “if not now, when?” Louis Vuitton held its first-ever livestreaming session on Little Red Book, a popular Chinese social lifestyle platform. Net-a-Porter sold luxury bags by teaming up with A-list influencer Mr. Bags on Alibaba’s Taobao Live platform and livestreamed exclusive timepieces from Watches & Wonders Geneva, the top luxury watch tradeshow. The Kering-owned brand Bottega Veneta went even a step further by collaborating with super-host Austin Li on a sales-oriented livestream that sold out a record of 230 Mini Pouch bags ($1910 each) in 10 seconds.

The astronomical sales figures from China’s livestreaming economy could easily tempt brands to see the digital medium as the magic formula. But despite headlines, quick sellouts, and brands like Bottega Veneta making bold moves in this space, luxury’s story with livestreaming is still at the beginning. And simply making livestreams a part of a brand’s digital marketing strategy doesn’t guarantee success.

To transform this industry buzzword into a sustainable practice, brands must be aware of livestreaming’s current limitations before jumping into the trend.

First, being underprepared and failing to meet a Chinese audience’s high expectation of luxury-worthy livestreams could backfire on a brand’s reputation. Based on the industry’s early experiments, a lack of livestream preparation seems to be a common Western luxury problem.

Louis Vuitton’s Little Red Book livestream debut drew numerous “looks cheap” comments because its background setting and production style felt no different than other Taobao rooms selling fast fashion at heavy discounts. In January this year, Dior’s livestream talk after its Spring 2021 Couture show did improve on background quality, but the audience lamented the talk’s “boring” conversations, suggesting that brands are still far from understanding the necessary nuances of this digital medium. Continue to read the full article here