Net stars re­de­fine e-mar­ket­ing

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By MENGJING

Eat­ing hot pot and stream­ing the “event” live on a smart­phone app could be an ef­fec­tive way of mar­ket­ing a res­tau­rant — that’s what Wu Guoxu, owner of a chain of 13 restau­rants in Shen­zhen, real­ized re­cently.

Wu in­vited a young, mar­ried cou­ple to use live stream­ing apps to show­case the en­vi­ron­ment at his restau­rants and the food there.

Sur­pris­ingly, the strat­egy at­tracted hun­dreds of new cus­tomers. In the fol­low­ing weeks, Wu’s chain pulled in about 35,000 yuan ($5,255) more than nor­mal as word spread near and far about the great hot pots at his restau­rants.

“It was be­yondmy ex­pec­ta­tion. The young cou­ple are nei­ther superstars nor celebri­ties. But they do have thou­sands of on­line fol­low­ers. I guess e-mar­ket­ing, by way of re­al­ity TV-like streams where hosts of­fered hon­est com­ments about our food, worked magic,” Wu told China Daily.

Live stream­ing from his restau­rants lasted about 90 min­utes. The two so-called in­ter­net stars sent out some vir­tual red en­velopes con­tain­ing coupons that users could re­deem at Wu’s restau­rants. About 82 per­cent of the cou­ple’s view­ers who claimed the coupons even­tu­ally showed up and dined at his restau­rants.

“The rate is higher than any other dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing meth­ods we use. We do have an of­fi­cial WeChat ac­count, which sends out coupons from time to time, to main­tain ex­ist­ing cus­tomers. But how to lure new cus­tomers had al­ways puz­zled me,” he said, adding he will con­sider us­ing live stream­ing more of­ten.

Wu’s restau­rants are not alone in this re­gard. A grow­ing num­ber of busi­nesses are rid­ing the wave of live streams. They are us­ing in­ter­net stars to at­tract new cus­tomers.

For ex­am­ple, cos­met­ics are ped­dled on Taobao.com’s streams whose con­tent in­cludes tips and ad­vice on putting on makeup, in­ter­ac­tions with con­sumers, and Q&As with po­ten­tial cus­tomers in real time.

In a sales event in June, e-com­merce ma­jor JD.com even in­vited in­ter­net stars to live-stream the way fa­mous restau­rants cook lob­sters, in or­der to boost on­line sales of its seafood.

“In­ter­net stars have the po­ten­tial to re­shape how young peo­ple spend money. They of­fer more than mere en­ter­tain­ment, and have real power to boost com­mer­cial­iza­tion of a prod­uct, ser­vice or con­cept,” said Cao Lei, di­rec­tor of the China E-Com­merce Re­search Cen­ter in Hangzhou.

He said by com­bin­ing the trendy live streams and in­ter­net celebri­ties, e-com­merce own­ers can not only gain loyal fans but ex­pand the in­flu­ence of their brands via the so­cial net­works of such celebri­ties.

ad­di­tional sales that Wu’s restau­rants gen­er­ated by us­ing live stream­ing apps

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